Amid the myriad reviews that are coming out this week, there's this little tidbit from the Philadelphia Daily News:

When in "Rome," speak as the British do.

Yes, HBO's ancient Rome will be like all the ancient Romes you probably remember from old movies - and PBS' "I, Claudius" - full of Brits wearing togas.

Those that aren't British, according to "Rome" co-creator Bruno Heller, are Italian.

Is that because "Rome" - the bill for which HBO entertainment president Carolyn Strauss says was "massively footed" by her company - is a joint production with the BBC?

"No, it was a very deliberate choice to restrict it to a British cast," Heller told reporters in Beverly Hills last month.

"Certainly for English people, accents are very telling," he said.

"And we wanted to make... the class system in Rome clear, for instance, and make people's characters rooted in some kind of reality, as opposed to some kind of false pretend accent or pretend sense of being. So it was important that the actors could act naturally. If, for instance, you have an Australian actor who's having to put on a different accent to fit in with the rest of the cast, it wouldn't have worked as well," he said.

Not that high-class Romans need necessarily sound as if they grew up on the playing fields of Eton, according to Heller.

"I think you could do a very good drama [without English accents] but you'd have to be consistent. So you'd have to use all American accents and run with that," he said.

Some would argue, though, that Americans themselves could never accept a Julius Caesar who sounded like them.

"Is it perhaps that the United States is, relatively speaking, a young country?" asked James Purefoy, the Somerset, England-born actor who plays Marc Antony. "Possibly the world thinks that the English people have been speaking like we do since God was a very, very small child and so we just accept it as that."

... I've often wondered why Romans in film always seem to have English accents (until the last decade or so) ... by the way, the best review of the week (in terms of readability, although it pans the thing) is in Newsday.