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The Insider

Mar 12, 2001  •  Post A Comment

HBO’s `The Sopranos’ hits the mark for accuracy
With the third season of HBO’s “The Sopranos” under way, the show is receiving praises of all sorts-such as that the series depicts the world of real-time mobsters accurately. That’s no surprise to one “Sopranos” cast member whose depiction of a gangster comes as second nature. Tony Sirico, who portrays Paulie Walnuts on the HBO series, was a feared shakedown artist who preyed on Manhattan nightclubs and has a police record. And based on Mr. Sirico’s own description of his real-life shakedown technique, he didn’t need any lessons at James Lipton’s Actors Studio to play his on-screen part: “You hit them over the head with a baseball bat, and they come around.”
Regis finds his sole at Court TV
Last year Regis Philbin was red-faced when he was unavoidably delayed on the night he promised to appear onstage at the upfront presentation for Court TV, the cable channel that has been radically transformed by his good friend, Henry Schleiff. What will bring Mr. Philbin back to this Thursday’s Court TV upfront? Red shoes. Very shiny, pointy and high-heeled red shoes. The red spikes came wrapped in an upfront invitation billing a trench-coated babe as “a whole new kind of gumshoe” and put big grins on faces of New Yorkers who fondly recall the plastic fish wrapped in newspaper with which Court TV invited them to last year’s advertiser bash. “I love these shoes. They look really uncomfortable,” said Mr. Philbin’s wife Joy at a recent dinner with Mr. Schleiff and his wife Peggy. So Mr. Philbin, who has in his possession two left shoes bearing the Court TV label, is dutifully looking for the right mate.
Chuck D: #$%?! the trouble
that Napster’s in
It’s not every day that attendees at a stodgy Washington conference get to hear a speaker use the f-word. But that’s exactly what happened last week at a Consumer Electronics Association event when rapper Chuck D interspersed a little profanity into an otherwise amusing, entertaining and heartfelt defense of Napster. The music-file-sharing Web site is entangled in a controversy that pits the rights of consumers against the rights of content owners and could be a harbinger of battles to come for programmers in the digital age. Chuck D was followed by Billy T, as in Louisiana Rep. Billy Tauzin, who didn’t use any foul language but did talk a lot about his proud Cajun heritage.
Interactive TV discovery: sex sells
What will be the killer app of Interactive TV? “Sex,” said Phillip Swann, author of “TV dot COM: The Future of Interactive Television.” “You can’t underestimate how sex appeal can contribute to making a new technology a success.” Mr. Swann predicts shows such as “Temptation Island” will become online hubs for romantically adventurous chat junkies.
`Boot’ producer kicks Burnett over safety
The producers of Fox’s upcoming “Boot Camp” reality series (see story, Page 3) took exception to “Survivor: The Australian Outback” Executive Producer Mark Burnett’s recent pledge to “fire” any camera person who stopped taping at sight of a contestant being potentially injured or in danger. Mr. Burnett’s remark came in a March 2 response to reporters’ questions over how he handled the burning injury of contestant Michael Skupin, who had to be removed from the CBS show for the treatment of burns on his hands after passing out in front of a campfire. “I do guarantee that if one of our camera people were closest to a contestant about to be injured or in immediate danger of it, I would expect them to stop shooting to give help-or they’d be fired,” said Eric Schotz, executive producer of the show and president/CEO of LMNO Productions. “Everybody has their sensibility on how they run the show, but, unlike Mr. Burnett, I do think that safety is paramount, and it would be imperative for the closest person to render aid immediately.”
Soon we’ll all be privy to `Chains’ secret
One of the best-kept secrets in UPN’s upcoming “Chains of Love” reality series is how the five manacled contestants carry out the functions of going to the bathroom or taking showers. This much is known: The chain gang-featuring a man or woman linked with four members of the opposite sex-will sleep together in a bed specially designed for five; and a “locksmith” will be on hand to unlock the jilted suitor in each episode. “All of that will be revealed in the show,” said UPN Entertainment President Tom Nunan, who has scheduled “Chains” to start in the 8 p.m. (ET) Tuesday hour on April 17. “We are going to show how we do it on the show, but everyone is going to have to wait until then. The suspense is a killer, isn’t it?”