The Italian Almanac

Rome on screen

Italian Television - March 28

Just as the second installment of "Rome" starts shooting at Italy's Cinecitta, a toned-down version of HBO's lusty historical skeinskein has finally marched onto Roman TV screens sans nudity and violence. And it has been snubbed by Italos with disdain.

The lavish epic, which has sold around the world in both its original format and the sanitized version, aired on pubcasterpubcaster channel RAI-2 to a mere 10% audience share, half as many viewers as skit comedy show "Zelig" got on rival commercial broadcaster Mediaset.

That is a far cry from the substantial ratings the original "Rome" scored when it debuted on HBO Stateside and on the BBC in BlightyBlighty. For Italians, "Rome" was preceded by polemics over the edited-out frontal nudity, which some blasted as censorship. There were also qualms over historical accuracy, a worry shared by the British press.

Newspaper Corriere Della Sera blasted it as a "prime example of historical misinformation," calling Ciaran Hinds' Caesar a "parody" -- "too young and with too much hair" -- and describing the sexual relationship between Roman matron Atia (Polly Walker) and Mark Anthony (James PurefoyJames Purefoy) as "ridiculous."