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Hollywood Digest

By
PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter

PAY RAISES FOR 'SOPRANOS' GANG

The Hollywood Reporter said Wednesday that several key supporting players have worked out pay raises to stay on "The Sopranos" for a fifth season.

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The Reporter said Drea de Matteo, Robert Iler, Michael Imperioli, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Tony Sirico all renegotiated their deals to return for a fifth season with an option for a sixth. At the moment, there is no assurance that the show will return to HBO for a sixth season, but creator David Chase has not ruled it out.

Sources told the Reporter that Imperioli -- who plays Tony Soprano's nephew Christopher -- will get about $80,000 per episode for the upcoming season, which is scheduled to begin production late next month.

Sirico reportedly formed a coalition with de Matteo, Iler and Sigler and Iler to work out pay raises in the neighborhood of $35,000 to $45,000 per episode -- with each of them now being paid about $60,000 per episode.


RAY ROMANO WILL DO EASTWOOD HONORS

The Screen Actors Guild has announced that Ray Romano will present the union's 39th Life Achievement Award to Clint Eastwood in Los Angeles next month.

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Eastwood is being honored for humanitarian accomplishments and a body of work as actor, director and producer that includes the Oscar-winning "Unforgiven" and such classics as "Dirty Harry," "Play Misty for Me" and "A Fistful of Dollars." He joins a list of SAG Life Achievement Award recipients that includes Edward Asner, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Kirk Douglas, Sidney Poitier, Robert Redford and Elizabeth Taylor.

Romano -- an Emmy-winner and seven-time SAG Awards nominee for "Everybody Loves Raymond" -- is nominated again this year for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Romano is a frequent golf partner of Eastwood's.

The 9th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be presented on March 9 in Los Angeles and televised live by TNT.


ROBERT BLAKE TELLS BARBARA WALTERS HE IS INNOCENT

In his interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, Robert Blake said he is innocent and is sure he will be found innocent of killing his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley.

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"Of course I'm innocent," Blake told Walters in the interview, scheduled to air Wednesday night on a special edition of the network's "20/20" news program. Blake was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing earlier on Wednesday, on charges that he killed Bakley in May 2001.

In the interview -- conducted at the Los Angeles County Jail -- Blake said he wasn't surprised when he was arrested in April 2002. Walters wanted to know what Blake would do if he is convicted?

"What do I care?" said Blake. "How do you kill a dead man? They (the police) took away my entire past. They took away my entire future. What's left for them to take?"

Blake also speculated on who he thinks killed Bakley.

"In my heart I believe that some man, 10, 15, maybe 20 years ago, because she used to get married to them," he said. "I think she destroyed a lot of lives."

The "20/20" telecast is something of a homecoming for Blake. "Baretta" -- the police drama for which he won an Emmy in 1975 -- used to air on ABC in various timeslots, including Wednesdays at 10 p.m.


'ETERNITY' SCREENWRITER DANIEL TARADASH DIES

Daniel Taradash -- who won a screenwriting Oscar for "From Here to Eternity" in 1953 -- died in Los Angeles on Saturday from pancreatic cancer. He was 90.

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Taradash -- whose other screenwriting credits included "Bell, Book and Candle," "The Other Side of Midnight" and "Picnic" -- also served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and held several other academy offices during the 1960s and '70s.

He also served as president of the Writers Guild of America West from 1977-79. The guild honored him with the Laurel Award (1995), the Edmund H. North Founders Award (1990), the Morgan Cox Award (1987) and the Valentine Davies Award (1970).


HONORS FOR NORA EPHRON

The Writers Guild of America East will present its Ian McLellan Hunter Award for lifetime achievement in writing to Nora Ephron in New York on March 8.

Ephron is being honored for a body of work that includes Oscar and WGA-nominated screenplays for "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993, with David Ward and Jeff Arch), "When Harry Met Sally ..." (1989) and "Silkwood" (1983, with Alice Arlen).

She co-wrote and directed "You've Got Mail." Her other directing credits include "Mixed Nuts" and "Michael."


COMEDY HONORS FOR 'ABOUT A BOY'

"About a Boy" has been named best studio comedy feature at the first Comedy Film Honors, a new feature of the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo.

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"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was named best independent comedy film and "Igby Goes Down" director Burr Steers won for best first-time director. All three awards were determined by a vote among a panel of comedy movie actors, directors, producers and writers that included Billy Crystal, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Barry Levinson, Steve Martin and Jay Roach.

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" also won an audience award for best comedy, in an online poll conducted by Entertainment Weekly.

The Comedy Film Honors will be presented Saturday on the final night of the ninth annual USCAF in Aspen.


CASTING NOTES

Joe Pantoliano ("The Sopranos," "The Matrix") will star as a streetwise guy who trains undercover police in "Street Boss," a drama pilot for CBS.

In other casting news, David Krumholtz ("The Santa Claus") has joined Rob Lowe, Matt Craven and Frances Fisher in the cast of "Lyon's Den" a drama pilot being shot for NBC.

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