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Reuters/Variety TV, By John Dempsey
Fri Nov 8, 4:22 AM ET
NEW YORK (Variety) - The Sci Fi Channel has renewed "Stargate SG-1," its highest-rated series, for a seventh season, commissioning producer MGM to produce another 22 episodes.

Over the summer, original episodes of "Stargate SG-1" on the Sci Fi Channel averaged 1.32 million households, the best series ratings in the history of the cable channel.

Negotiations for the new contract dragged out because Richard Dean Anderson (news), the star and co-executive producer, reportedly didn't want to do another full season. One scenario under discussion was to bring the show back without Anderson.

"I'm glad he's signed up: Anderson is a major part of the series," said Bonnie Hammer, president of the Sci Fi Channel.

Hammer referred to the series as the linchpin of the network's Friday night of original programs. In January, the network will schedule the last 11 episodes of the sixth season along with the final 11 hours of the canceled "Farscape" series, plus reruns of "The Dead Zone" from Sci Fi sister network USA.

Sci Fi also owns exclusive rights to the first five seasons of "Stargate," which it runs every Monday night from 7 to 11.

"Stargate," based on the 1995 MGM movie starring Kurt Russell (news), began its life as a Showtime series in 1997.

After the show's five-year run on the pay cable network, Sci Fi took over the rights to the firstrun episodes. MGM said the network will continue to share the runs with TV syndication in the seventh season.

The parties declined to comment on reports that the new contract will increase the cost of each Vancouver-based episode well beyond the current $1.3 million an hour, with Sci Fi paying a larger percentage of the production cost in license fees.

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