The Hollywood Reporter has learned that NBC's cable affiliate Bravo is negotiating with the producers of its hit show Queer Eye for the Straight Guyfor production of a second season -- plus a huge increase in the number of episodes to be shot during the season.

During its first season, Queer Eye filmed only 13 episodes, of which eleven have been aired. After the show became a ratings powerhouse, Bravo exercised an option for 7 more episodes, which the producers, Scout Productions, will begin filming next week. However, for the second season order, Bravo is looking for as many as 40 episodes. Said the show's co-creator David Collins, "We won't be shutting off the Queer Eye production engine for quite a while."

In addition, Scout is negotiating with NBC to "re-package" the show and the "Fab Five" themselves (Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez) for NBC prime-time. Since NBC wasn't the owner of Bravo at the time of the original Queer Eye production deal in 2002 -- instead, Bravo was owned by a holding company controlled by Cablevision, with NBC as a minority holder -- the cross-promotion of the show between Bravo and NBC was not anticipated in the original deal.

Because of the show's runaway success, the "Fab Five" -- who have become such media stars themselves that they have each hired talent agents to market them outside the show -- will receive healthy raises as part of the new deal. As discussed in this story, the "Fab Five" only received $3,000 each per episode for the first season, which was envisioned as a part-time activity while they pursued their full-time careers. Although many pundits were stunned, the talent agents kept quiet while waiting for the show's renewal, knowing that a standard part of Hollywood deal-making is renegotiating the contracts of stars in hit shows that get renewed. Their time has now arrived.

Bravo's current plans call for airing the seven new episodes of Queer Eye beginning in November, for November sweeps. The first episodes of the second season -- if all goes well -- would be produced in time to air during February 2004 sweeps, and the second season might be broken into two parts to give production pre-planning a chance to explore new venues. According to Scout, the second season will venture outside of the New York City environs, to such locales as Texas and the Midwest. Looks like Queer Eye is about to become a full-time job.

Queer Eye has become one of the powerhouses of cable programming, drawing an average audience of 2.5 million viewers -- including 1.8 million in the 18-49 demographic -- which is a higher average than the best figures Bravo ever recorded for a single broadcast prior to its debut. Although NBC continues to cross-promote Queer Eye, NBC entertainment president Jeff Zucker has expressed his reluctance to move the show permanently to the parent network despite its ratings, since the show is seen as Bravo's "franchise" production. To protect that franchise, NBC make seek restrictions on appearances by the "Fab Five" on non-NBC broadcast outlets, such as Viacom's MTV, which could also be repackaged onto Viacom's CBS.

Of course, more restrictions on the "Fab Five" requires more cash in their base compensation. In other words, we think the people who worried about the "Fab Five" being underpaid can rest easier tonight.