The Sopranos, Boondocks bumped

The waiting is the hardest part.

HBO announced they will push back the eighth season premiere of acclaimed mafia drama The Sopranos due to star James Gandolfini's knee surgery. Cartoon Network is moving back the premiere of season two of edgy animated series Boondocks to March of next year.

The final season of the The Sopranos was originally scheduled to return January 7, but HBO chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht, speaking with the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, said that lead actor James Gandolfini's knee surgery pushed back production by several weeks, which would have caused the show to be delayed and air opposite post-season football games. Now, the cable network has penciled in a premiere date in March as a possibility.

HBO also made the announcement that beginning in the fall, they will stop premiering first-run cable moves on Saturday and move them to Sunday night, which has traditionally been where the network's powerhouse original shows have roosted. The move comes after the cable giant has lost some of its Sunday-night luster at the hands the reinvigorated networks and shows like Desperate Housewives.

Albrecht said that as far as returning shows go, Curb Your Enthusiasm will return for a sixth and final season sometime in 2007, and polygamy drama Big Love will come back for its second season next June. Rome will return for a second and final season in January, as will Office creator Ricky Gervais' Extras.

Boondocks, which stormed from newpapers to the tube last year and gave Cartoon Network its highest-rated premiere ever, was moved back to March 2007 from winter 2006/2007. Show creator Aaron McGruder said the move was because the network upped their episode order from 15 to 20.

"Our production schedule is really, really long," McGruder told The New York Post today. "We're halfway through the writing and just getting under way with the animation."

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