Lynette Rice
May 09, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Such problems a network should have. After spending $30 million on its Julius Caesar epic Empire, ABC doesn’t have room for it on its hit-packed schedule. So the network will debut the five-part limited series June 28, around the time it burns off Complete Savages, a series that couldn’t cut it in the regular season. Insists ABC exec VP Jeff Bader, ”An advantage to summer is there is less original programming, which gives us a greater opportunity to get attention for a distinctive series.” Or a good way to bury it. Given how poorly recent toga films (Alexander) have done, networks may wonder if there’s life for theirs.

At least Empire will debut well before HBO unveils Rome in September. Both focus on Caesar’s murder and the rise of his nephew, and often butted heads during production in Italy. ”We’ll have the advantage of being first out of the box,” says Empire exec producer Neil Meron (Annie). ”It will be riveting TV. There will be nothing like it on air!” At least until fall.

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