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A&E readies 'The Sopranos' for airing

May 12, 2006 at 7:46 PM

NEW YORK, May 12 (UPI) -- The A&E Network has been busy cleaning up the first five seasons of HBO's provocative mob drama, "The Sopranos," for re-airing on U.S. basic cable.

A&E paid HBO an estimated $2.5 million each for 85 episodes of "The Sopranos." When it begins airing in syndication next January, it will be available in three times as many U.S. homes as it was during its first run on HBO, The New York Times reports.

Most of the changes are miniscule -- such as putting bikinis on the strippers at the Ba Da Bing! club -- but should be enough to satisfy potential sponsors, the Times said.

A&E Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob DeBitetto said so far, an average of only 30 seconds has been trimmed from each episode. Original "Sopranos" episodes ran anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour.

DeBitetto noted anticipation creates a lot of "The Sopranos" tension and even when someone is whacked, it's no more violent than what is seen on network TV.

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