NEW YORK – Emerald City is closing its gates for good.
The upcoming sixth season of HBO's long-running prison drama Oz, will be its last.
Production is set to begin shortly on the final eight episodes of HBO's critically acclaimed prison drama. They will air in early 2003.
"With these final episodes of Oz, I will finish telling the story I originally set out to tell," said executive producer Tom Fontana in a prepared statement.
"I want the series to go out at what I hope will be the top of its form. And though it's the end of Oz, it's the beginning of our next collaboration with HBO," he said.
Fontana is executive producing a new series for the cable network called Baseball Wives.
Oz premiered in 1997 as HBO's first hour-long original drama series, paving the way for shows like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under.
Twisted, dark and disturbing, Oz chronicles the relentless struggles for power and survival inside a state prison. The series is set behind the walls of the Oswald State Correctional Facility — an experimental prison sectioned by plexiglass walls instead of iron bars — which has been dubbed "Emerald City" by its inmates.
By the time Oz wraps up, its 56 episodes will a have featured a cast of almost 200 actors, including a contingent of New York-based performers — such as Dean Winters, B.D. Wong, J.K. Simmons and Chris Meloni — who frequently appear or star in NBC's arsenal of Law & Order shows.