'Sopranos' Creator Whacks Press | Pellicano Case | JT Leroy | CD Sales, Oscar Parties

'Sopranos' Creator Whacks Press

David Chase, creator of "The Sopranos," has decided to bite the hand that has fed him for the last six years.

Chase has told HBO that when the show has its premiere next Tuesday at the Museum of Modern Art, the press is not invited.

To make matters worse, neither are the countless minions who help put the show on the air. I'm told the MoMA screening of the first two episodes of the final season is just for the cast, their friends and families and A-listers like the New Yorker's David Remnick and Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman.

The many grips, gaffers, production services people and extras who give "The Sopranos" its authentic flavor will be treated to a real-time premiere party on Sunday night, March 12, at the Roseland Ballroom.

The whole gang can watch the show on TV screens as it airs on HBO. But they're not welcome when Chase unveils his latest masterpieces on the 7th.

This could be a sign that "The Sopranos" has, in the lexicon of TV fans, "jumped the shark." I sure hope not.

Like millions of viewers, I've been a steadfast supporter of the show for its whole run. But Chase — who's been allowed to write each entire season before shooting it, resulting in unprecedented gaps between seasons — is said to be driving the HBO brass nuts with demands and ultimatums.

A few months ago, the inside word from the show (and ultimately reported in the Daily News) was that the cast was upset that they weren't being treated as well as the Teamsters on the show.

Cast members said then that the show's drivers got advance scripts and they didn't, meaning the drivers knew who was going to get whacked or cheated on before the actors.

What Chase doesn't seem to understand is that no one likes getting "spoilers" about the show. Apparently, his high level of secrecy is due to worries that someone will report key facts about the show's plot before the episodes hit the air. But I can tell you from experience, readers don't like it when you give the story away. Neither does this writer. We have to have some surprises left in the world!

In the meantime, the Chase cone of silence seems to have extended to New York magazine. Their cover story this week promises "How Tony Gets Whacked." But the small print indicates the copy is just a bunch of scenarios imagined by a half a dozen people I have never heard of, and neither have you.

In the cover story, there are one or two quotes from Chase, with much of the chat left to minor player Steve Schirripa (Bobby). Talk about a loss leader!

Pellicano Case: Star Lawyer Worried

Lawyer to the stars Bert Fields is telling associates that an indictment may be imminent — as soon as this Friday, perhaps.

Yesterday, Fields' attorney, former San Francisco prosecutor John Keker, was spotted arriving at Ontario Airport in suburban Los Angeles by one of FOX 411's lucky spies. Keker's companion may have been investigator Dave Fechheimer, who now has the task of investigating Pellicano, the investigator.

They may have been visiting private investigator Paul Barresi, who worked for Pellicano as a "Leg man" for years. Barresi could be in possession of evidence that could help convince a future jury that Fields never knew what Pellicano was up to when he was allegedly and illegally wiretapping Fields' client. Got that?

Fields' clients included Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone. Prosecutors claim that Pellicano spied on Stallone, and it may have been for Fields. As I told you last week, Fields' wife, art dealer Barbara Guggenheim, had a long-running and contentious legal dispute with Stallone over a painting.

You may be squinting with non-comprehension at the Pellicano story. But let me tell you, folks: if Fields is indicted by a grand jury, letters will fall out of the Hollywood sign. There's a lot of stuff, legal and otherwise, that Fields and his clients consider so secret they'd consider driving an American-made car before they let them out.

JT Leroy: Connect the Dots

The whole saga of fake writer JT Leroy, the San Francisco male novelist who turned out to be a Brooklyn mother, has gripped the literati for weeks. New York magazine outed Leroy first, and then the New York Times got an actual confession from Gerald Knoop, the brother-in-law of Leroy's real entity, Laura Albert.

Laura's sister, Savannah Knoop, had for years played the role of JT Leroy in public.

But it's not like no one knew what was going on. For example, all of these people are tied to the small world of San Francisco publishing, where the Leroy saga was kind of an inside joke, from what I can tell.

Last week, Page Six reported that actress Winona Ryder had given weight to Leroy by telling Vanity Fair how she met him.

Of course, Ryder being involved with the Leroy story is not exactly a coincidence. Her father, Michael Horowitz, is a well-known author and publisher in San Francisco. Horowitz is also the archivist for the late Timothy Leary, whose many books are published by Last Gasp's Ron Turner.

Turner brought out one illustrated Leroy book last year, and has another one in the works for next year. And Turner's best friend George DiCaprio, father of Leo, is a highly regarded publisher of graphic novels and comics.

Got that?

Turner told me last week that he, DiCaprio and their spouses all tried to get into a Leroy reading last year at Book Soup in West Hollywood, but were turned away.

Turner swears he didn't realize that Knoop was Leroy, despite many meetings. He hasn't seen Knoop since the scandal broke, but he's talked about author Albert — who wrote the Leroy books — a lot.

Has he asked her about the whole mess?

"It hasn't come up," says Turner. She did give him some free sweatshirts from the show "Deadwood," where she/he has been working as a writer.

But Turner also says of Albert, "She completely fooled me."

And PS: the Leroy/Leary six degrees of separation doesn't stop with Winona and Leo, as far as stars go. Add Uma Thurman to the list: her mother was married to Leary before she and met married Dr. Robert Thurman, and had Uma and her brothers.

CD Sales, Oscar Parties, Jeep 'Crash'?

CD sales were perilously low last week. According to hitsdailydouble.com, the total for the top 10 was less than 750,000. The No. 1 album was a piece of fluff called "High School Musical," a soundtrack to a Disney TV show.

Warner Music Group's debut R&B album from Jaheim fell from No. 1 to No. 10, off 63 percent with 53,000 copies sold. Ouch!

But public records show that newish owner Edgar Bronfman believes in his product. On Dec. 5, 2005, he bought an underwhelming 1,000 shares of his own company for a total price of $18,340. He wanted to show a dramatic commitment to the enterprise...

I'm told that the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills fire departments will be cracking down on large Oscar parties, especially those at private homes. Word is that ICM agent Ed Limato has been told by the BHFD to scale back this Friday night or risk being shut down a la the Ron Burkle/Mariah Carey event two weeks ago. Limato erects a humungous tent on his well-groomed grounds for the old and the restless...

Oscar-nominated Terrence Howard, of "Hustle and Flow" and "Crash" fame, has designed a 2006 Jeep Commander. Now the car, if it doesn't "crash," will be auctioned off on eBay this week for charity beginning on Friday...

Meantime, ad-packed Los Angeles Confidential's annual Oscar bash is Thursday night, competing with The Creative Coalition/Premiere Magazine's party, Marilyn Crawford's soiree at the Beverly Wilshire and Larry Gagosian's annual art opening. Hendrix Vodka is pouring for LAC ... they should have drinks called Purple Haze, Foxy Lady and the Watchtower, no?...

And Bono is on his way to the Oscars for a good cause...

More tomorrow...