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Summer TV exit strategies

Spoiler alert! Two iconic series sign off this summer, and we have a preview of how they’ll bid fans adieu

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Seven seasons
The beginning of the end July 13, 10 p.m., FX
How it goes out The last day of shooting on Rescue Me was not in a firehouse — as one might expect — but in a run-down New York City church. ”How perfect,” exec producer Peter Tolan remembers thinking of the scene, which will air in the final episode. On a series where the characters have weathered plenty of tragedy (death, alcoholism, paralysis) and in a season that will find the firehouse coping with the impending 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the death of a major character, Tolan wanted to end on ”a positive, inspirational” note. In part, that will entail Tommy (Denis Leary) gaining permanent sobriety, working to mend his familial relationships, and dealing with the return of his love interest Kelly (Maura Tierney), whose story line will parallel the actress’ real-life battle with breast cancer. Says Tolan, ”Ultimately it comes down to simple ideas of loss, overcoming tragedy, and moving on in your life.”

Eight seasons
The beginning of the end July 24, 10:30 p.m., HBO
How it goes out Just days ago, exec producer Doug Ellin was still figuring out how to end Entourage, which is still in production. What he did know: ”You probably won’t see Vince die.” Instead, look for a throwback to season 1, meaning out with the dark Vince-on-drugs tone and a return to pure comedy. There’ll be ”a lot of hanging out” and ”having fun,” says Ellin, along with the continued development of Johnny’s Bananas, the cartoon collaboration between Johnny (Kevin Dillon) and guest star Andrew Dice Clay, which Ellin is angling to spin off into its own animated series. ”We’re hoping to do what The Tracey Ullman Show did with The Simpsons,” he says, ”but maybe get two seasons, not 25.” What does that mean for the long-rumored Entourage movie? ”I haven’t even discussed it,” admits Ellin, who’s got a TV series to wrap first. ”Hopefully there’s a demand for it.”