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Breaking: HBO renews 'True Blood'

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No surprise here: HBO has renewed True Blood for a fourth season, to debut in summer 2011.

The news comes just one week after the hit vampire saga kicked off its third season to near-record ratings.

“The new season of True Blood is off to a terrific start, as enthusiasm for this unique show continues to build among both subscribers and critics,” enthused HBO president Michael Lombardo in a statement. “We’re looking forward to more chills from Alan Ball and his gifted team next year.”

Added exec producer Alan Ball: “I am beyond thrilled to be able to continue working with this amazing cast and crew. This is the most fun I have ever had.”

More True Blood scoop

Major spoilers on July episodes

Alan Ball: Season finale will be “big”

Ken Tucker on last night’s episode

TV scoop is best served instantaneously, so follow me on Twitter at @michaelausiello