June 6, 2004. That was the last time anyone saw an original episode of "The Sopranos."
The HBO series returns Sunday for its sixth and final season, and promises to go out with a bang.
Why the nearly two-year hiatus? An HBO spokesperson says it was a "collaborative decision" -- not the network caving to the artistic whims of creator David Chase.
There are 12 episodes of Tony and the gang, with eight "bonus" episodes airing in early 2007.
Dropping a hiatus in between adds dramatic farewell flair -- HBO used the same device for the sign-off of its last great series, "Sex and the City."
How well has the mob series fared? Viewership was down last season from the season before -- 12 and half million viewers shrunk to 11 million. But that doesn't count replays and on-demand viewing.
And as a pay service, HBO relies on subscriber fees, not ad rates -- making ratings less important.
Still, two years ago "The Sopranos" didn't have the "Housewives" to contend with -- and I'm not talking about Carmela. "Desperate Housewives" now dominates the 9 p.m. Sunday time slot ... and it's racked up awards as well.
But "The Sopranos" is bringing out the big guns. The first episode has a mind-blowing climax, and guest stars this go-around include Ben Kingsley, Julianna Margulies and Hal Holbrook.
Janice and Bobby have a baby girl, and Carmela wonders what happened to Adriana.
Tony is still seeing Dr. Melfi, Christopher's on the wagon and A.J. wants to run a nightclub. Junior is sliding into senility, and Johnny Sack is in the slammer.
And there's your "Sopranos" primer. I could tell you more, but then I'd have to kill you.
Oscar-winner Kathy Bates plays wife to Super Bowl stud Terry Bradshaw -- and the two play parents to McConaughey. Here’s how Kathy met Terry: “I got a call on my cell phone,” said Bates, "and this voice on the other end said, ‘I’ve loved you from the moment I said, ‘I do.’ It was Terry, and it was a really sweet way of breaking the ice.”
And the gridiron great impressed the thespian with his performance. “A lot of the funny lines in the movie are ad-libs that Terry did,” said Bates. “And he was always teasing me about my Oscar.”
Cyclist Lance Armstrong had this to say about what he and buddy McConaughey like to do together when they hang out: “You don’t want to know.” He laughed, then added, “We like to drink a beer every now and again, exercise and listen to music.”
On a more serious note, Armstrong expressed concern for ex-fiancee Sheryl Crow, now undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
“It's been tough -- in many ways it's been tougher than my own diagnosis cause I felt removed and isolated, and I understand the situation. But she knows that I can be 3,000 miles away, or right next door ... But I know she caught it very early and she's got great doctors and a great attitude, and I expect a full recovery, and I think she does too."
And, finally, Sarah Jessica Parker confirmed there will never be a “Sex and the City” movie, basically because costar Kim Cattrall didn’t want to do it.
Said Parker, “The momentum for that has come and gone. It was very disappointing at the time -- a tough pill to swallow but I think we’re recovering.”