'Breaking Bad' gets a Season 4 pickup

breaking-bad-320.jpg "Breaking Bad" ended its highest-rated season on Sunday (June 13), and Emmy nominations are likely to follow in July. It's also coming back for a fourth season in 2011.

A pickup for a new season is all but a done deal, according to several reports, and a formal announcement is expected on Monday. AMC and producer Sony Pictures TV haggled some over the show's per-episode budget but have come to an agreement that's pretty much in the middle of what each side had proposed.

Bryan Cranston has won two consecutive Emmys for outstanding lead actor in a drama series for playing chemistry teacher/cancer victim-turned-master meth cooker Walter White. His co-star Aaron Paul was nominated for outstanding supporting actor last year, and the show got a best drama series nod.

Cranston, Paul and the show are all contenders for repeat nominations this year; the Emmys announce the field on July 8.

"Breaking Bad" averaged 2.2 million viewers per episode (including DVR viewing) this season. The show has grown its audience in each of its three seasons.

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Photo credit: AMC