No Country for Sharon  | Ricci Goes Theater  | Joey Pants, Edie Falco  | 'Scarface' Returns

Sharon Osbourne: Wynonna? Never Heard of Her

The very bad "Sharon Osbourne Show" got off to a rocky start yesterday with negative reviews and a puzzled host.

According to set insiders, Osbourne had no idea who her lead guest would be when producers pitched the great singer Wynonna Judd at a meeting.

"Who is she?" Osbourne demanded.

"The No. 1 country superstar," responded a staffer.

"Oh, please!" exclaimed Osbourne, rolling her eyes.

Nevertheless, Wynonna made it onto the debut show yesterday, along with a taped piece on Justin Timberlake and a segment on orphans that had reviewers gagging.

Osbourne's bookers, according to insiders, are having trouble getting A-list guests. This week the show features a pop act called Becky.

Who is she, or they? I have no idea. She's not exactly Madonna, who Oprah featured yesterday, or Sharon Stone, who popped up on the extremely ingratiating new "Ellen DeGeneres Show."

Sharon Osbourne is also using up her personal problems quickly. Yesterday she ran a piece on gastric-bypass surgery. On Thursday, Sharon makes her own son Jack relate the story of his drug rehab. Sometime soon we will hear about her rotten neighbors. In New York, where "The Sharon Osbourne Show" runs at 1 p.m., you'll hear better topics on "All My Children."

Christina Ricci Makes Her Stage Debut

Each of the actors in Monday night's third annual "24 Hour Plays" was allowed one line for his biography in the show's program. None put it as eloquently as Sam Rockwell, currently wowing audiences in "Matchstick Men."

Wrote the star of "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind:" "I love cheese!" Period. Full stop.

Otherwise the entries from fellow actors Bebe Neuwirth, Fisher Stevens, Liev Schreiber, Griffin Dunne, Rosie Perez, Adam Goldberg, Giancarlo Esposito, Brooke Shields, Alan Cumming, Julianna Margulies, Gaby Hoffman, Frank Whaley and others were of the conventional sort.

But the six one-act plays they put on at the Roundabout Theatre for one night were anything but standard. They'd all been written in the previous day, with the actors and directors then getting their instructions and finally putting the whole thing on to a full house.

Christina Ricci, the 23-years-young movie starlet, has almost 40 acting credits, starting with "Mermaids" in 1990, but before last night had never set foot on a stage. Granted, the three-character comedy written by Nicole Burdette and directed by Frank Pugliese included her two of her friends: Hoffman and Goldberg.

But Ricci pulled it off; she was relaxed and confident. When I saw her last night at the premiere of Woody Allen's "Anything Else," she told me she'd actually been a bundle of nerves.

"I was so scared," she said, "my knees were knocking."

I'm supposed to tell you, by the way, that the whole point of "24 Hour Plays" is, of course, to benefit a worthy cause called Working Playground.

Sponsors for the event were Bloomingdale's and Details magazine, as well as Moxie Pictures and Planet Impact. The rather loud after-party was held at the Whiskey Bar in the basement of the W Hotel in Times Square, although those who knew better (including the wise Neuwirth) skipped that part.

Joey Pants, Edie Falco In the Lead for Sunday Night

Our long national suffering may at least be over. Joe Pantoliano could be headed for an Emmy Award on Sunday night.

"Joey Pants," as he is affectionately known, is up for Best Supporting Actor as Ralphie, the hot-headed, now no-headed sleazy mobster from "The Sopranos." God bless him.

Joey first came to national attention in 1983 as Rebecca DeMornay's pimp in "Risky Business." A huge career as a character actor followed, with memorable turns in "Memento" and "Bound."

This fall, Joey is the star of his own TV show, "The Handler," on CBS. Famed director Mick Jackson, a creator of the show, directed the first five episodes, which means at least the spirit of quality — often absent from network TV — is there.

"Who's in the favorite in my category?" Joey joked the other day about the Emmys. It's not an easy group: Michael Imperioli, also from "The Sopranos," Victor Garber of "Alias," John Spencer of "The West Wing" and Bradley Whitford, also of "The West Wing."

Joey, with "The West Wing" always hovering, you're an outside shot, but you're the people's choice, and that's what counts. I'm crossing my fingers.

Also, P.S., but a big P.S.: Don't let me say I told you so, but Edie Falco should win Best Actress on Sunday night for her own role in "The Sopranos." The season finale of that show was so terrific that literally everyone involved should get an award. But Falco's portrayal of Carmela finally coming to terms with the truth of her marriage made it almost Bergmanesque. No other performer came close to her this year.

De Palma's 'Scarface': The Return of a Record-Setter

In a bit of clever but cynical synergy, Universal Home Video is re-releasing Brian De Palma's 20-year-old "Scarface" in theatres this week in anticipation of its DVD release.

You see, Universal is owned by the same people as Def Jam and Interscope Records, whose "artists" — gangsta rappers — have made the violent, drug-championing movie a cult hit and a template for their lives.

Since NBC does not yet own Universal, the peacock is safe for the time being.

Tonight, there's a big screening at which the movie's director, stars and fans can mingle. But what is "Scarface" actually remembered for? It was nominated for not one Academy Award, in case you were wondering.

At the time, it was considered a bad movie, overly violent and maybe the apogee of bad acting. According to the Internet Movie Database, "Scarface" did set a new record — I'm sure long since surpassed — for use of a certain expletive beginning with "F" 206 times.

Some movies create brilliant legacies, but over time the appeal of the nearly three-hour bloodbath known as "Scarface" has only grown exponentially among rappers who want to emulate its drugs and hyperviolence.

One rapper even named himself Scarface as a tribute to the De Palma movie, and it was said to be Saddam Hussein's son Uday's favorite movie — certainly the epic gun battle that ended his and his brother Qusay's lives was worthy of Tony Montana.

"Unlike most films, 'Scarface' has gained in interest and influence over the last 20 years, and its fervent fan base continues to grow," says Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Video.

That, of course is an understatement. Some titles of songs by the rapper Scarface — who records for Rap-A-Lot — include "Homies and Thuggs," "I See a Man Die," "[Expletive] Faces," "Hand of the Dead Body," "Born Killer," and the inspirational "A Minute to Pray."

Last year, Scarface offered his advice on how to catch the serial sniper in Maryland. "You can get him out of here. You got to bait his [expletive] in, put that money up. Money talks; everything else got four feet [walks]," he said.

Not surprisingly, Scarface took a reported sabbatical from performing in August 2002 due to high blood pressure.