EXCLUSIVE: Lifetime has picked up 10 more episodes of its flagship drama Army Wives. The series is currently in production on its 13-episode sixth-season order. I hear Lifetime’s decision to stockpile more episodes was made now so the show could stay in continuous production. It comes after both of the network’s new series launched this past summer, The Protector and Against The Wall, underperformed. By not branding the pickup as a new season, Lifetime can have all original cast members locked in. The actresses don’t have deals beyond Season 6 but their contracts requires them to do all episodes produced, which would include a 23-episode sixth season.

The 23-episode order will likely be split into two batches but, from a contractual standpoint, Lifetime could make the stars of the show return for the 10 episodes at their current salary. While legal, such a move is generally frowned upon. I hear that Lifetime, which is currently deficit financing the ABC Studios/Mark Gordon Co-produced Army Wives, has offered the main cast members a raise of $10,000 per episode. That represents an increase of 10%-20% for the actresses, whose salaries vary but are all in the 5-figure range, but is far less than what they would get if they have to negotiate new contracts for a seventh season. (more…)