The next season of "The Sopranos" won't debut until January 2006, HBO chief Chris Albrecht told adoring critics Thursday at Summer TV Press Tour 2004.
One female reporter -- an unfamiliar face at the press tour and clearly not yet a convert to Albrechtology -- asked whether he was worried that another break of more than a year between seasons might cause the mob drama to lose momentum.
"No," Albrecht said curtly, giving her one of his amused "what are you, nuts?" looks. The audience was delighted.
"What is this woman -- an idiot?" mumbled one critic.
Albrecht then gave his "such are the petty concerns of other networks" speech, always a crowd-pleaser at the press tour. Critics responded with guffaws and harrumphs.
Then he gave a newer, better, Harry Potter analogy -- "Harry Potter" movies being a very big moneymaker for HBO parent Time Warner, in which, Albrecht later reminded the crowd, he has stock. At HBO, additional seasons of drama series are regarded more like sequels than actual "seasons." It made a great deal of sense.
Albrecht then scanned the room. "Uh-oh -- a tough question from [critic's name withheld]."
"Not really," the critic said. He wanted to know whether there is a chance "The Sopranos" creator David Chase would do more than 10 episodes next season, as originally announced.
Albrecht responded that he's told Chase that it would be great for him to do as many episodes as he could and that until the very last episode of "The Sopranos" airs, he's always hopeful Chase will find a way to tell more stories.
Asked if the "Sex and the City" flick was definitely dead, Albrecht barked, "As far as I'm concerned."
When asked to explain the story behind that, he said that at the start of that series's final season they got the necessary talent-holding deals to do a movie based on the show. But there was a delay, and when HBO tried to extend the deals, all but "one person" was willing.
Who was that person? "You know who -- Kim Cattrall; it's been reported many times," Albrecht snapped.
Sometime it would be interesting to see how Albrecht responds to a hostile crowd.
He also seemed unhappy when asked about Viacom-owned Showtime, which had its moment onstage the day before to talk about efforts to improve the pay cable network's original programming -- you know, make it more like HBO.
"HBO is Must-Have TV," Albrecht sniffed, noting that the network has 21/2 times as many subscribers as Showtime and that while HBO received 124 Primetime Emmy nominations last week, Showtime received fewer than 20. Of those, six were for a flick that is a "word-for-word re-creation of another movie" -- he was talking about "The Lion in Winter" -- and seven were for "a movie they didn't even make" -- that would be "The Reagans."
Alexandra Pelosi says it was much harder to make her upcoming HBO documentary "Diary of a Political Tourist," about her two-year road trip with Democratic presidential hopefuls, than it had been to follow George W. Bush on his presidential campaign trail in her 2002 "Journeys With George" because "all of the candidates were on to me and none of them wanted to give me access."
John Kerry was "most afraid of me," she told critics here, adding that she did not find him "warm and fuzzy" or good for TV. Kerry went furthest, she said, because he "never revealed anything off-message."
Based on her experience making those two films, Pelosi -- the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) -- said that Republicans stay at better hotels and eat better food; the Democrats' campaign arrangements were "all union, very low-budget" and they stayed at Super 8's every night. She also said none of the Democratic candidates turned her on, though, in fairness, that was in response to a direct question asking whether any of them did.
Pelosi said she "didn't believe any of them," that all of the candidates were caricatures. She liked covering Joe Lieberman and Richard Gephardt the best because every time she tailed Lieberman's campaign he sang a show tune and every time she tailed Gephardt he sat down to eat pie.
Twice she dodged a question asking which of the Democrats she would most like to have voted for. She finally turned to HBO docu chief Sheila Nevins, who was standing at the side of the stage, to ask whether it was all right to reveal that information.
"It's a free country," Nevins said.
"It's HBO, for crying out loud," said one critic.
After one telecast, HBO has ordered a second season of its comedy "Entourage," which is based on singer-underwear model turned actor Mark Wahlberg and his actual entourage.
Ironically, Jeremy Piven, who stars in the series as the hot young star's agent, fired his agent while doing the show and says he is now looking for a new one. Piven's character's name is Ari; Wahlberg's agent is Ari Emanuel, who, Wahlberg said during the Q&A session on the show, had been Piven's agent until he canned him.
"I started acting like an agent to my agent," Piven said of his situation. He seemed sincere; on the other hand, he said his last agency was Epstein and Barr, so it was hard to tell.