Great news for fans of HBO's "The Sopranos." There will be a seventh season after all.

Sort of. Just not officially.

In addition to the 12-episode sixth-and-billed-as-final season of the mob drama -- which is scheduled to debut in March of 2006, ending a 11/2-year dry spell -- the pay cable network announced yesterday it would produce eight "bonus episodes," which will debut nearly one year after that, in January of '07.

Why the network is not calling this an abbreviated seventh season instead of "bonus" episodes, which sounds suspiciously like DVD boxed-set-speak, is beyond us.

HBO offered no explanation other than Chairman Chris Albrecht's canned comment that they were thrilled that "David Chase felt there are more stories to be told."

Last month, at Summer TV Press Tour 2005, the Reporters Who Cover Television, who were understandably confused having also been told that the show's sixth season would be its last, quizzed Albrecht about the possibility of a seventh season.

He responded: "I don't know. I read what you read."

That Albrecht, such a kidder.

Albrecht then hinted that he believed Chase feels like there's more to tell than just what he had planned for the sixth season.

He'd probably read that in the New York Times, which in June quoted Chase as saying that he had been publicly expressing nostalgia for the show, which "kind of got transmuted into that there would be another season, which doesn't mean there wouldn't be a seventh season; it's just that's not the plan right now," adding, "I've got it all planned out now in six seasons, but everyone loves doing it and we can probably -- might be -- able to do another few episodes."

The "bonus" episodes will be shot immediately after the episodes for the sixth season, which are in production.

HBO did something similar for the final season of "Sex and the City." Twelve episodes of the final season ran between June and September of '03; eight more ran from January through February of '04.

And if that's not enough good news, CBS yesterday announced that "The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" broadcast will be back this fall.

CBS offered little other information in yesterday's exciting announcement, except to assure us that it would be a "fashion spectacular . . . infused with a holiday theme, musical performances, red carpet interviews, model profiles and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the world's most celebrated fashion show."

All great.

CBS broadcast the undies runway shows during the November sweep ratings derby in 2002 and 2003. But the network had nothing to air in fall of '04 because in April the lingerie outfit had decided to scrap the fashion show, in part because "the heat was on the television networks," as Ed Razek, chief marketing officer of Victoria's Secret parent company, Limited Brands, explained in various press reports.

The heat was coming from the direction of our fair city after the national television debut of Janet Jackson's right breast during the Super Bowl in February of '04.

"The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" had been broadcast for three consecutive seasons, beginning with ABC in 2001. The broadcasts brought complaints to the Federal Communications Commission -- which, of course, puts it in company with the opening ceremonies of the Athens Olympics. No FCC indecency fine was slapped on the lingerie showcase, though the National Organization for Women did pronounce it a "soft-core porn infomercial."

Hopefully, the year off will have rekindled viewer interest in the special, which snagged an average of 12.3 million viewers when it ran on ABC but dropped to 10.5 million in its first CBS telecast and even further, to 9.4 million, in '03.

"Sopranos" mobsters Tony (James Gandolfini), right, and Johnny Sack (Vincent Curatola).HBO's Chris Albrecht said they were thrilled that David Chase, right, "felt there are more stories to be told."Lingerie-clad models sashay down the runway at "The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" in Manhattan. CBS says the show will be back.