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Full frontal and a bull’s blood shower? Count me in!

HBO’s newest hour-long drama, “Rome,” takes place during the last few years of Julius Caesar’s reign. Like the network’s other series – “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood” and “The Wire” – “Rome” features a healthy shooting budget and good production values. Co-produced by HBO and the BBC (who previously co-produced the excellent “Band of Brothers” mini-series), “Rome” looks and feels more like a film than a television show, and the premiere jumps right into the conflict brewing between Caesar and his long time friend and cohort, Pompey. It’s a story as old as the ages – both men want power and Rome just isn’t big enough for the two of them.

Like all Hollywood period pieces, “Rome” features characters in a foreign land speaking English, but with enough of a British accent so it sounds exotic. I’ve always scratched my head at this reasoning, as it’s just as likely that the Romans spoke with a New Jersey accent as an English one, but the practice is as old as Shakespeare so you just have to deal with it. However, whether you love or hate “Passion of the Christ,” you’ve got to give it up to Mel Gibson for shooting the entire thing in ancient Aramaic. Anyway, on to the good stuff – full frontal nudity from Atia (Caesar’s niece, played by Polly Walker) and her daughter Octavia (Kerry Condon). Atia is sort of the Julie Cooper of ancient Rome – fans of “The OC” will notice the resemblance immediately. She sleeps with a horse salesman so she can give one of his stallions as a gift to her uncle, she makes Octavia divorce her husband and give it up to the recently-widowed and much-wrinkled Pompey, and she takes a ritual pagan shower in bull’s blood. And that’s just the first episode.

“Deadwood” and “The Sopranos” feature a lot of (sick) humor and, based on the premiere, “Rome” appears to be somewhat lacking in this area. Aside from Atia’s various scheming, the best chance for comic relief is the gruff ne’er-do-well gladiator, Titus, who gets roped into retrieving Caesar’s insignia when it is stolen by “blue Spaniards.” At the same time, Titus also manages to rescue Caesar’s great-nephew, Octavian, who was kidnapped by the same blue Spaniards on his trip to deliver the aforementioned horse to Caesar. It’s only the first episode, but with all the fighting, scheming and politicking, along with the Romans’ well-known liberal attitudes toward sex, the network definitely has the ingredients for yet another compelling series.

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An interview with Dane Cook

Bullz-Eye.com interviewed stand-up comic Dane Cook a while back. Here’s a clip:

In five minutes, Dane Cook is going to call me. This is wildly surreal, in that I’ve been putting snippets of his material on mix CDs for years. He’s one of the few comedians that has made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t make a sound. His new album, Retaliation, is filled with paralyzed-by-laughter moments. His bit about being in a heist, and owning a monkey so he can battle it when he gets home from work, is sublime. After a good long stretch when comedy was dead dead deadsky, Cook is a sight for sore eyes and ears.

The phone rings. My Privacy Manager shows “Cook, Dane” on it. Sweet. Wasn’t expecting that.

BE: So when did you start hitting clubs?

DC: I started touring extensively, outside of New England, like ’94. I stayed around the Boston area the first year, and then started doing clubs in New Hampshire, Maine, and then started getting gigs at some colleges. So yeah, I moved to New York in ’95, and then started hitting the country.

BE: I used to follow comedy religiously, and to me, the boom was the mid ‘80s to the early ‘90s. What was it like getting into comedy when it was kind of at its lowest point?

DC: It was kind of funny, because the week I first started hanging out in the clubs, some of the old time guys, who had been there during the boom, they’d say, “Aw, you missed it! Yeah, it ended like a week ago. You’re just starting now! Oh, good timing, really good timing.” It was dead. There were a lot of clubs still, but it was no catapult to fame the way it was in the late ‘80s. It was good for me, though, in retrospect. It’s not like I had the chance to ride the big wave, only to get caught in the undertow. I could take my time, and nobody was pressuring me to be a headliner. I could go up there, find my voice, and figure out what it is that I wanted to do.

Click here for the full interview….


Read the rest after the jump...

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