The Fix

Rosie to leave "The View"? The marketplace morality behind A&E's profanity-free "Sopranos." Plus: Cowell disses Dylan.

Topics: Jennifer Aniston, Barbara Walters, Donald Trump,

Morning Briefing:
The Trump letter; Rosie leaving? We kind of can’t believe the Donald Trump/Rosie O’Donnell spat has gone on this long, but all the parties involved just keep adding fuel to the fire. After several newspapers reported yesterday that O’Donnell and Barbara Walters have been fighting backstage at “The View,” Trump fired off a letter to O’Donnell (and numerous media outlets) taking advantage of the news. The letter outlines two different conversations Trump says he had with Walters in which she knocked her co-anchor. He writes: “To be exact, she said that ‘working with her is like living in hell,’ and, more pointedly, ‘Donald, never get into the mud with pigs’ and ‘Don’t worry, she won’t be here for long.’” And indeed, on Wednesday morning, Fox 411 reports that insiders at the show say O’Donnell will likely leave the show when her contract ends in June, unless ABC execs intervene in a way Walters may not have foreseen. O’Donnell’s presence has boosted the show’s ratings and public profile immensely, and now some speculate that ABC might try to buy out Walters and hand over the show to O’Donnell entirely. (TMZ, Fox 411)

“The Sopranos” goes mass: “The Sopranos” arrives on A&E tonight, albeit in slightly different form than the original. The basic cable network is taking a large gamble (it reportedly paid between $150 million and $200 million for the rights to broadcast the show) to bring the epic mob drama to a wider audience — HBO has a reported 29 million subscribers, while A&E is in 91 million households. In doing so, though, it has taken out some of the series’ bite. In scenes at the Bada Bing women in bikinis have replaced topless dancers; Paulie Walnuts, crashing through the woods in pursuit of a hit, now curses the “freakin’” poison ivy. The changes have turned the R-rated series into something more PG-13, though as the Los Angeles Times notes, basic cable isn’t under the regulation of the FCC, writing, “It’s a morality governed almost exclusively by the marketplace.” (L.A. Times)

The people have chosen: It was a very “Pirates of the Caribbean” night at the People’s Choice Awards on Tuesday. The second installment of the swashbuckling blockbuster picked up best movie, best drama, best male action star (Johnny Depp) and best on-screen matchup (Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley). As Splash News reports, the night’s best moment came when the audience reacted to Jennifer Aniston thanking her former costar/boyfriend Vince Vaughn — who won best leading man — while picking up her award for best female star award: “Thank you for loving ‘The Break-Up’ — I did.” As the audience tittered, Aniston lost her composure: “No, it was truly — no, I meant — just such a fantastic experience and an amazing cast.” You can see a full list of the winners here. (BBC News, Splash News, the Envelope)

It looks like the Claire Danes/Billy Crudup split is official — a number of gossips have said the two broke up just before Christmas, and today’s Gatecrasher reports that Danes and Brit actor Hugh Dancy were hooking up during the recent filming of their forthcoming film, “Evening.” (Gatecrasher) … Marilyn Manson’s close relationship with 19-year-old actress Evan Rachel Wood was reportedly a big factor in the break-up of his marriage in the past few weeks; People now says Manson, 38, and Wood are a couple. (People) … At the hearing for the DUI charges stemming from her arrest last September, lawyers for Paris Hilton entered a plea of not guilty — the heiress claims she’d had only one margarita but hadn’t eaten all day and was trying to find a place to get a hamburger when she was stopped by cops. (TMZ) … After Suzanne Somers’ Malibu, Calif., house was destroyed in a fire on Monday night, Somers told reporters she looks on the bright side: “My nature is to look at the glass half full. I don’t have a son or daughter in Iraq.” (TMZ) … Britney Spears’ stylist is tired of taking the heat for her client’s bad choices. “Yes, I’ve done Britney Spears, but don’t blame me, OK?” Britt Bardo recently said, according to In Touch Weekly. “I make her up and she just takes everything off and does her own thing.” (The Scoop) … Speaking of Britney and Paris, the blonde duo have been given the dubious honor of sharing the top spot on Mr. Blackwell’s annual worst-dressed list, released on Wednesday. Camilla Parker-Bowles came in second and Lindsay Lohan third, followed by Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Paula Abdul, Sharon Stone, Tori Spelling, Sandra Oh and Meryl Streep. (Associated Press)

Money Quote:
Simon Cowell admits he’s no Bob Dylan fan: “Do I prefer Kelly Clarkson’s music to Bob Dylan’s? Yes. I’ve never bought a Dylan record. A singing poet? It just bores me to tears. I’ve got to tell you, if I had 10 Dylans in the final of ‘American Idol,’ we would not be getting 30 million viewers a week. I don’t believe the Bob Dylans of this world would make ‘American Idol’ a better show.” (Playboy via Page Six)

Turn On:
The series run of “The Sopranos” (A&E, 9 p.m. EST) debuts on basic cable Wednesday night with the show’s pilot episode, while C-list celebs like Eric Estrada, LaToya Jackson and Jack Osbourne go through basic police training in the series premiere of “Armed and Famous” (CBS, 8 p.m. EST). Season 2 of “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency” (Oxygen, 10 p.m. EST) also kicks off. At 9 p.m. EST, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN and others will carry “The Presidential Address,” in which President Bush will speak to the nation about his plans in Iraq.

On the Talk Shows:
Larry King (CNN, 9 p.m. EST): Sens. Barack Obama and John Warner, Bob Woodward and others react to the president’s address
Charlie Rose (PBS, check local listings): More analysis of the speech, with Rep. Rahm Emanuel, William Kristol, Ken Duberstein, Thomas Ricks, Fareed Zakaria and Robin Wright
David Letterman (CBS, 11:30 p.m. EST): Peter O’Toole, Marc Maron
Jay Leno (NBC, 11:35 p.m. EST): Former Sen. John Edwards, Terri Irwin, Mindy Smith
Conan O’Brien (NBC, 12:35 a.m. EST): David Arquette, Lonny Ross, Chuck “The Iceman” Lidell
Craig Ferguson (CBS, 12:35 a.m. EST): LL Cool J, Masi Oka, Chris Daughtry
Jimmy Kimmel (ABC, 12:05 a.m. EST): Jerry O’Connell, Giada De Laurentiis, Lindsey Buckingham
Jon Stewart (Comedy Central, 11 p.m. EST): Gov. Mike Huckabee
Stephen Colbert (Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. EST): David Camp

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Scott Lamb is a senior editor at

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