There will be extra treats for Baltimore-area viewers during the first season. One episode, which features Vice President Meyer hosting a "Get Healthy" conference (think Michelle Obama), is set at Camden Yards. Meyer's co-host is former Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer, according to Iannucci. Meyer also hosts a "police breakfast" at the Belvedere Hotel.

The Ottobar, Tremont Grand and Greater Baltimore Medical Center turn up as settings during Season One as well.

In the end, "VEEP" will probably rise or fall at the hands of the Nielsen gods, based on viewer reactions to Louis-Dreyfus. Having an on-screen identity as memorable as the one she helped create for her character of Elaine on "Seinfeld" is a tricky business. Some people fall so deeply in love with such a character that they never want to see the actor in anything else.

I don't think "VEEP is going to be a mainstream hit in the ratings. Let's be frank: It's probably too smart for that. I expect its first-play audience will be more in the range of "Girls," another outstanding series from HBO that debuted last Sunday to 1.1 million viewers.

Let's be glad that the folks at HBO have found a business model that allows for high-end, intelligent series like "VEEP" and "Girls" to populate its prime time instead of the brain-dead double-entendre that passes for comedy on network TV.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

'VEEP'

"VEEP" premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday on HBO.



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