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HBO road leads to ‘Rome’

Cabler's new series gets hefty welcome

HOLLYWOOD — Friends, TV critics, countrymen, lend us your ears. We come to praise “Rome,” not to bury it in the 500-channel TV universe.

The Veterans Administration’s grounds in Brentwood were transformed into Caesar’s grassy palace Friday as HBO treated TCA members to a night of toga-wearing, archery and Mediterranean treats.

The paybox will offer the series countless times in its initial few weeks over the net’s many cable channels, in order to make sure viewers sample the goods.

While execs no doubt hope this will be the cabler’s next water-cooler series, entertainment topper Carolyn Strauss is staying low-key.

“My expectations are always low, but that way I’m ready to be pleasantly surprised,” she said.

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