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HBO ‘Band’ lands on D-Day

U.S., U.K. heads of state invited to viewing

PARIS — HBO’s $120 million “Band of Brothers” World War II miniseries will preem June 6 — D-Day — at Utah Beach in France, one of the Allied Forces’ Normandy landing sites.

“There is no more appropriate place to honor the heroism of the men,” Jeff Bewkes, HBO chairman and CEO, told a press conference in Paris on Wednesday.

Produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, the 10-hour mini, based on Steven Ambrose’s bestseller about the real-life Easy Company, the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, is HBO’s costliest project ever.

Bewkes said that for this, HBO’s most ambitious premiere to date, 44 surviving members and the widows of others will be flown to France on June 2.

World leaders, too

HBO has also invited heads of state including U.S. President George W. Bush, Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair and France’s President Jacques Chirac. Hanks and Ambrose are also expected to attend.

An episode of the series will be shown on a 20-foot-by-40-foot screen inside a tent for 1,000 people at the Utah Beach Memorial, followed by dinner.

“Band of Brothers” was shot between April and November last year in Hatfield, England. It was produced by Band of Brothers on behalf of Hanks’ Playtone Co. and DreamWorks, and involved eight directors, including Hanks and co-exec producer Tony To. There are no stars in the series except TV actor David Schwimmer (“Friends”).

The huge production featured 500 speaking roles and 10,000 extras.

Series will run on HBO for 10 weeks beginning Sept. 9. It has been sold around the world to territories including the U.K. (BBC gets a co-producer credit), France (France 2) Australia (Nine Network) and Japan (WOWOW).

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