'Dexter' to return in June

TV Dexter
In this image released by Showtime, Michael C. Hall portrays Dexter Morgan, left, and Mos Def portrays Brother Sam in a scene from "Dexter." (AP Photo/Showtime, Randy Tepper)

The wait for the next season of "Dexter" won't be as long as usual.

Showtime entertainment president David Nevins Saturday announced that the eighth season of "Dexter" would launch June 30, rather than in the fall, to give a strong lead-in to one of the network's new series, "Ray Donovan."

"Homeland" will begin Season 3 on Sept. 29, providing another strong launching pad for its "Masters of Sex," its drama about sex researchers William Masters and  Virginia Johnson.

"I'm not making any announcements today" about whether this will be the final season for "Dexter," Nevins said. (The show's star, Michael C. Hall, has told me -- and others -- that he expects that to be the case.)

"There's a clear end game in place. I can't talk about it just yet," Nevins said of the show, which features television's most sympathetic serial killer, though he said he'd "clarify" that position before the season premiere in June.

Just speculation here, but given how Showtime is handling the final season of "The Big C," which will air as a four-part "limited series" under the umbrella of "The Big C: hereafter," I suppose it's possible that Nevins might hope to persuade the makers of "Dexter" to squeeze out a few more episodes after Season 8.

"'Dexter' is to Showtime what 'Batman is to Warner Bros.," Nevins said, and he's concerned that it end in a way that works both for the network and its 22 million subscribers.

As for "The Big C," which stars Laura Linney as a woman dealing with Stage 4 melanoma, I've only seen the first of the four hours. But I think you can guess from "hereafter" what those episodes might be like.

Other notes from Nevins' meeting with the critics:

-- Asked by one reporter if "it would be fair" to ask if Damian Lewis  would be back on "Homeland" this year, Nevins said, "It would be perfectly fair to ask."

-- The next season of "Episodes" will be on the air "fairly early in 2014," Nevins said, noting that he'd have preferred it to return earlier, but working at the pace of creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik was part of the deal he'd made to get them on the network.

-- "Nurse Jackie" and "The Borgias" will return April 14.

-- Ellen Gray, reporting from the Television Critics Association winter meetings in