Sarah Silverman Saved, Returning For Season 3


"The Sarah Silverman Program" will be back for a third season on Comedy Central, following the resolution of four-day day standoff over planned budget cuts.


The cable channel has ordered a 10-episode season of its signature live-action series, which will now be co-financed with gay-oriented sister cable network Logo.


"We're happy," Silverman said. "All we ever wanted was just to make our show. Nothing fancy -- just our show."


It's a happy ending to a drama that threatened to make "Sarah Silverman" the first major primetime casualty of the economic crisis after the cable network was forced to slash the budget of the series by more that 20% and its executive producers refused to continue at those terms.


"Things were tough on Friday and over the weekend," said Comedy Central's president of original programing Lauren Corrao, who headed the network's efforts to keep "Sarah Silverman" on the air. "We very much wanted the show, we just couldn't come to an agreement for a budget that was acceptable and uncompromising to the producers and that we could afford."


Like every other entertainment company, Comedy Central's Viacom parent has imposed companywide belt-tightening measures. As a result, Comedy central proposed picking up "Sarah Silverman" at an $850,000-per-episode budget for Season 3, down from $1.1 million for Season 2.


Concerned that the drastic reduction won't allow them to keep the integrity of the single-camera comedy, which incorporates animation and musical numbers, Silverman and her fellow executive producers Dan Sterling, Ron Schrab and Heidi Herzon declined the offer.


In a surprising twist, Corrao came up with the idea early on Monday to share "Sarah Silverman" with another Logo, which caters to gay, lesbian and transgender viewers.


She called former Comedy Central executive Marc Leonard, now a senior exec at Logo.


After discussing the idea for several hours, Logo's brass called up their Comedy Central counterparts to tell them they wanted to be part of the show.


Details on how the financial responsibility and the window sharing will be divided between the two partners are still being worked out, but sources said with the combined financing, "Sarah Silverman" will have a budget a tad higher than last season's $1.1 million per episode.


Logo has run Comedy Central shows before, including animated series "Drawn Together," but this the first time the two networks are involved in co-financing a series together.


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