‘Carnival’ bash

HBO hosts 'creepy' affair for new series

HBO abandoned standard wine-and-dine-’em party protocol for a dingy, Dust Bowl-era festival on the Warner Bros. lot that capped off the cable portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour Thursday night.

After a string of soirees wooing the critics — Comedy Central threw its celebration at the legendary lair of Robert Evans — HBO marched out grubby clowns, warped magicians and forward femmes in honor of its new fall entry “Carnivale.”

“If ‘Grapes of Wrath’ and ‘Twin Peaks’ had a baby, this would be it,” cast member Clea DuVall said of the series.

The strange, the supernatural and the grotesque mingled with guests while HBO topper Chris Albrecht whisked his daughter from booth to booth.

But it was a rickety old Ferris wheel, possessed by some sort of Lynchian speed demon, that had everyone frightened.

“It’s going kind of fast, and looks like it’s from the early 1900s or something. It’s creepy,” series star Nick Stahl said.

What about a whirl in the name of good promotion? Stahl logged a “maybe,” but HBO exec VP of original programming Carolyn Strauss stood firm. “Are you kidding? Hell no.”

Attendees included series creator Daniel Knauf and stars Clancy Brown, Michael J. Anderson and Patrick Bauchau.

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