'True Blood' Creator Alan Ball Stepping Down After Season 5

The man who created "True Blood" is about to put a stake in it ... sort of.

The creator of the HBO vampire-filled, steamy series, Alan Ball, will be stepping down as its showrunner after the fifth season, the network confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. Forbes was first to hint at the news.

"'True Blood' has been, and will continue to be, a highlight of not only my career but my life," Ball, who earned an Emmy for "Six Feet Under" and also won an Oscar for writing "American Beauty," said in a statement. "Because of the fantastic cast, writers, producers and crew, with whom I have been lucky enough to work these past five years, I know I could step back and the show will continue to thrive as I look forward to new and exciting ventures."

If "True Blood" is picked up for another season, Ball, the man who made Sookie Stackhouse a household name, will stay on as an advisor. "If we proceed to Season 6, the show will remain in the very capable hands of the talented team of writers and producers who have been with the show for a number of years," HBO said in a statement.

Ball teased "True Blood's" fifth season in 2011 at Comic-Con, including how Eric turned Pam into a vampire, the debut of other supernatural creatures and "a business venture that involves people of both sexes taking their clothes off for some kind of supernatural purpose."

Also coming in Season 5, former "Law & Order: SVU" star Christopher Meloni's very old (and powerful) vampire character. When viewers last saw the residents of Bon Temps in Season 4, Alcide (Joe Manganiello) confessed his feelings for Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Tara (Rutina Wesley) took a bullet to the head. No official premiere date for "True Blood" Season 5 has been announced, but it should be Summer 2012.

Up next for Ball, he will serve as an executive producer on "Banshee," a new Cinemax series about a criminal posing as a sheriff in Amish Country.

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