Like the character he plays on My Name Is Earl, Jason Lee seems to be suffering from a case of bad karma.

How else to explain his diagnosis of adult-onset chicken pox, just as NBC announced that it was renewing his series for a second season?

Production on the comedy was shut down over the weekend after Lee was diagnosed with the virus.

Fortunately for the rest of the cast, no one else was infected with the itchy ailment; unfortunately for Lee, he was judged highly contagious and will have to remain in quarantine for several weeks.

"Jason Lee, if you haven't heard, has the chicken pox," Kevin Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment, announced Sunday at the Television Critics Association meeting in Pasadena. "Jason is actually quite sick and is going to be out of the show for about two or three weeks."

"Well, I mean, first of all, we think it's chicken pox," deadpanned show creator Greg Garcia. "I saw him shake Charlie Sheen's hand at the Golden Globes, and the next morning he woke up with bumps all over him, so it could be anything."

Reilly, meanwhile, also announced the good news for Earl, revealing that NBC had ordered an additional 24 episodes for next year.

In its first season, Earl has been racking up impressive ratings for the network with an average of 12 million viewers each week, revitalizing NBC's post-Friends Thursday-night lineup.

The comedy was nominated for two Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, one Directors Guild of America Award and three Writers Guild of America Awards and won the People's Choice award for Favorite New Television Comedy.

The show centers on Lee's titular character, Earl, who buys a winning lottery ticket, only to lose it after he is hit by a car.

While recovering in the hospital, Earl has an epiphany that his rotten luck is the result of poor karma and subsequently decides to go back and right past wrongs in an effort to reverse his fortune.

His list of actions for which he wants to make amends includes faking his own death to get out of a relationship, blowing his father's campaign for mayor and ruining his ex-wife's wedding to her new husband. However, as he goes about trying to fix his mistakes, he inevitably ends up digging himself into an even deeper mess. (But he does find the lottery ticket.)

Earl is backed up on his quest by a gaggle of dimwitted friends, played by supporting castmembers Jaime Pressly, Ethan Suplee and Eddie Steeples, among others.

Because of Lee's central role, the show simply can not go on without him, Garcia told reporters.

"He'll be in all the episodes," Garcia said. "We're just shut down until he is feeling better and is presentable to put on TV again. So, yeah, we are not doing episodes without him."

Prior to landing Earl, Lee starred in such movies as Almost Famous and several Kevin Smith films, including Chasing Amy. He broke into show biz with Smith's 1995 comedy Mallrats.