NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) -- NBC-owned Bravo is close to signing a mammoth renewal deal for a second season of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."
Scout Productions, which created the hit makeover series, is negotiating with the network for a hefty order of about 40 episodes, sources said. "Queer" began a 13-episode run in July, and Bravo had already ordered as many as seven additional episodes that Scout will begin producing next week.
"We won't be shutting off the 'Queer Eye' production engine for quite a while," said David Collins, "Queer Eye" co-creator and executive producer.
Not as close to completion, according to sources, are a separate deal between Scout and NBC that will presumably repurpose (i.e. recycle) "Queer" in primetime as well as talent deals to bring back the "Fab Five," the quintet of style experts who signed on to the program for a relative pittance of $3,000 per episode, according to contracts made available on the Smoking Gun Web site.
Now Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia, Jai Rodriguez, Ted Allen and Kyan Douglas have formed a unified front with their respective agents to yield a hefty raise from Bravo and Scout.
All five are expected to get salary bumps not stipulated in their current deals, which call for six consecutive one-year contracts with 5 percent annual raises.
When Scout first brought "Queer" to Bravo, the network was under the ownership of Rainbow Media Holdings. With the channel now under the supervision of NBC, which acquired Bravo in December, Scout and the "Queer" cast find themselves negotiating with a company that has considerably more clout.
In its 11 weeks airing at 10 p.m. Tuesdays, "Queer" has emerged as the cable network's highest-rated series ever, averaging nearly 2.5 million total viewers in its time slot, with additional audience coming from numerous reruns. The series also averages 1.8 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic.
The buzz has been boosted by primetime exposure on NBC, which has repurposed two episodes that were strong ratings performers. The "Fab Five" also have made appearances on other NBC properties such as "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and "Good Morning, Miami."
The new episode order will come just in time as the last of the original 13 will be exhausted next week. Original episodes set to go into production next week will provide a fresh supply beginning in November; "Queer" will go into reruns in the meantime.
The series will likely take another breather from airing original episodes in the beginning of 2004 and then return with another batch in February.
The "Queer" quintet is expected to remain intact, as is the series' format, but Collins said the series will venture outside New York in future episodes, including Texas and the Midwest.
NBC entertainment president Jeff Zucker said at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society luncheon earlier this month that he intends to continue giving "Queer Eye" a dual window on the broadcast network, but he emphasized that the show will be used sparingly on NBC to avoid wearing out what has become a vital franchise for Bravo.
The frequency of that window is an open question, but one contractual issue potentially up for discussion is establishing parameters on where and when the "Fab Five" can appear on non-NBC outlets, such as their recent book deal and on-air contributions on Viacom-owned MTV.