Two and Out for 'Rome'

The fall of "Rome" will happen sometime in early 2007.

HBO announced Wednesday that the second season of its epic series set in the time of Caesar will debut Jan. 7. At the same time, the network says next season will be the last for the show.

Filming on season two is currently taking place at the Cinecitta Studios in Rome and will wrap in October. Once that's done, though, the show -- a co-production with the BBC -- will call it quits.

HBO Chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht says that "Rome" was originally envisioned as a miniseries, but after seeing the quality of the first scripts the network and its partners (Italian broadcaster Rai was also involved) decided to go ahead with a full-blown show. However, after dealing with the logistics of shooting overseas and the high cost -- reports pegged the price tage for the first season at somewhere around $100 million -- HBO made the decision to pull the plug (the commitments of BBC and Rai were due to run out after the coming season as well).

The show's first-season ratings on HBO were decent (most episodes drew between 2 million and 3 million viewers) but not at the level of "The Sopranos" or, say, "Six Feet Under" in its prime. It did earn a fair share of critical praise and last week was nominated for eight Emmys.

The second season will pick up following the death of Julius Caesar. Most of the principal cast is scheduled to return, including Kevin McKidd, Polly Walker, Ray Stevenson, James Purefoy, Lindsay Duncan and Kerry Condon.

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