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Ball undertaking a series for HBO

Scenes include corpses, but it's not really about death, Poul sez

NEW YORK — At Wednesday’s after-party for the premiere of his new HBO series, “Six Feet Under,” Oscar-winning screenwriter Alan Ball talked about death.

“I went to Europe while I was in college and saw a scene of women crying over a casket,” Ball said. Which hardly explained why he decided to pen and direct this tale of a family of undertakers. “It’s very personal,” Ball added seriously. “There’s a lot of me in it.”

Co-executive producer Alan Poul smiled as he explained that the show, which included scenes of corpses being embalmed, is not really about death. “It’s about a family dealing with death. And how the family deals with death on a daily basis.”

Seated across the table from Ball was fellow writer-of-the-moment Kenneth Lonergan. Unlike Ball, however, Lonergan doesn’t give interviews at the dinner table. “I don’t want any of my friends to see me,” he muttered.

Sneaking into the other room, Lonergan talked about Ball’s style. “There’s no one quite like him. A beautiful combination of deep emotion and macabre humor.”

The atmosphere at the Le Cirque 2000 reception was more surreal than funereal, with an odd assortment of guests chowing on lobster and halibut.

Hosted by HBO topper Jeff Bewkes, guests included guests Dan Abrams, Bob Balaban, Peter Boyle, Jean Doumanian, Bret Easton Ellis, Laura Linney and Spalding Gray.