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In the pipeline

As 'Sex,' 'Sopranos' trot off, cabler has a few new series up its sleeve

As HBO prepares to kick off a new slate of original series and movies, there’s no one single identifying concept that makes each of them a natural fit for the pay cabler.

But there’s one proviso: They all had to pass muster with both chairman-CEO Chris Albrecht and Carolyn Strauss, exec VP of original production.

“One way of putting our stamp on something is to let creators do what they do,” says Strauss. “You need to find the people with the ideas that we haven’t heard before.”

Albrecht, who became prexy of original programming in 1995, has ferried his share of hits — “The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City,” “Six Feet Under” — but is not above the occasional miss (“The Mind of the Married Man,” the lukewarmly received “Arliss”).

Strauss is quick to say that Albrecht’s mark on HBO’s signature series has been to sign the best people and then get out of the way.

“If you’re looking for Chris’ stamp, it’s not seeing it. You don’t see Chris’ fingerprints,” she says.

Strauss has worked with her boss for 13 years. “If there is one thing he emphasizes it is to take himself out of the equation and let people make the shows.”

“What we’re proud of is to create an environment and let the creators do their best work.”

The following is a rundown of the upcoming HBO slate of originals.

Title: Carnivale

Debut: Sept. 14

Episode order: 12

Cast: Nick Stahl, Clancy Brown, Clea DuVall, Amy Madigan, Michael J. Anderson

Exec producers: Ronald D. Moore, Daniel Knauf, Howard Klein

Director of pilot episode: Rodrigo Garcia

Logline: A traveling carnival winds its way through the 1934 Dust Bowl. A mysterious 18-year-old fugitive with hidden talents is taken in by the carnival as a shadowy evangelist crosses his path.

Strauss says: “I think this is something that’s entirely fresh. It’s the belief of good vs. evil in a world of magic. If you look at the long lines of people buying the ‘Harry Potter’ book, in a world enormously uncertain, people are aching to believe there’s a force out there.”

Title: K Street

Debut: Sept. 14

Episode order: 10

Cast: James Carville, Mary Matalin, Mary McCormack, John Slattery

Exec producers: Henry Bean, George Clooney, Mark Sennet, Steven Soderbergh

Director of pilot episode: Steven Soderbergh

Logline: A mostly improvised skein in which a fictional PR firm spins real-life political issues inside the Beltway. Filmed a week before air date, topics will be as timely as possible. Soderbergh will direct five episodes.

Strauss says: “We’re living in a very interesting time. People are very skittish about who and how we make decisions. It seems to uncover a nervousness we don’t want to know about. I think Carville said it best: ‘We don’t want to know how they make the sausage.’ ”

Title: Deadwood

Debut: 2004

Episode order: 12

Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, John Hawkes

Exec producer: David Milch

Director of pilot episode: Walter Hill

Logline: Two weeks after Custer’s Last Stand at Little Big Horn in 1876, honorable and unjust folk make their way to Deadwood in the Black Hills Indian Cession.

Strauss says:“David is one of the truly unique minds and voices out there. We’re thrilled to be working with him. When ‘NYPD Blue’ first came out, it was one of the few shows that I watched every week.”