Edie Falco, the award-winning actress who plays Carmela Soprano and a noteworthy Prince fan, told me an incredible secret last night, bigger than anything to do with her hit show, "The Sopranos": She named her baby son Anderson for Anderson Cooper, the gray-haired CNN anchor who’s a regular subject of local gossip columns.
"It was a family name to start with," Falco said at the premiere of "All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise.”
“But Anderson Cooper being out there with it made it easier,” she conceded.
(This was almost as shocking as when a friend of mine revealed she’d named her daughter Erica after Susan Lucci's soap opera character.)
Also at the "All Aboard!" screening last night: Falco's "Sopranos" co-star Lorraine Bracco, who plays Dr. Melfi.
The pair accepted many kudos for their extraordinary work on Sunday’s show in their big scene together. That was the one in which Carmela goes to see Dr. Melfi, her incapacitated husband’s shrink.
It was during this dialogue that Falco — in what will be part of her Emmy reel — registers a subtle epiphany about Carmela’s whole character.
If you recorded the show or have HBO on Demand, watch the scene again. A whole season of emotions passes over Falco’s face. It's absolute genius.
Falco told me, by the way, that she’s watching "The Sopranos" as it unravels each Sunday night. Just like reporters, Falco didn’t get advance DVDs of the episodes.
“It’s so interesting to see the whole show, because first of all we filmed it a long time ago. And then, I get to see what everyone’s doing because I don't see them when we’re filming."
Falco gives credit for how good the first three shows have been to the writers, of course, and she’s partly correct. But she and the actors are bringing it alive.
"It’s been almost 10 years of playing her," she said, “and I know I’ll miss it when it’s over. It will be hard.”
Television actors don’t often make the transition to movies when their shows are over, but I think we’re going to see Falco, James Gandolfini and Bracco all over the place when “The Sopranos” comes to an end. Are movies in Falco’s game plan?
“I’m ready,” she said. “Bring it on!”
Meanwhile, Lorraine brought her brother and her vintner — the man who imports her Bracco wine — to help Rosie O'Donnell and partner, wife, etc., Kelli Carpenter celebrate the ecstatic premiere screening of “All Aboard!”
The film, which was a resounding hit at Sundance, premieres on HBO shortly. Check your TV Guides. It’s not to be missed.
Among the other celebrities in attendance were soap star Linda Dano, TV newshound Barbara Walters — who came out of the screening room wiping away tears — and her “View” cohort, the side-splitting Joy Behar (no, I didn’t get to ask Joy about Star Jones).
Lorraine was a little scared when she saw me. “My boss is so mad at you!” she said, referring to "Sopranos" creator David Chase.
Apparently, Chase hasn’t read my three weeks’ worth of fawning over how good "The Sopranos" has been, just the story about him not inviting press to the show’s premiere.
“I can’t talk to you!” Lorraine said with a wink. Then she kissed me on the cheek. All shrinks should be so hot!
By some estimates, Rosie O’Donnell made about $100 million from her successful syndicated talk show. It’s a good thing she has a level-headed wife/domestic partner in Kelli Carpenter.
“I was booked for 'The View,'” she said, “and I told them I love the show 'Nip/Tuck.' I wanted to give away copies of the DVDs to everyone in the audience. We started that at my show, giving things away.”
So O'Donnell had her assistant call for 200 or so DVDs from the distributor.
“My assistant said, 'We can’t give you anything for free because you’re not Rosie anymore,'” O’Donnell told a group of friends after last night’s screening of her new HBO documentary, “All Aboard!”
And you didn’t think fame was fleeting. “I said, f--- it,” O'Donnell reported. “Just buy them.”
So she bought the DVDs that the audience will get under their chairs.
“And then Kelli saw the bill and she said, ‘Did you spend $68,000 last week?'" Rosie was exaggerating, but you see, it sounds a little like “I Love Lucy.”
Rosie and Kelli’s documentary is about their 2004 summer cruise for gay families. The cruise was such a hit that a new one is planned for this July 2.
“I told Kelli I thought the families from the first cruise should always get a discount of half off or come for free,” Rosie said. “And Kelli said, that’s how you lost $10 million producing a Broadway show.”
Rosie’s lucky to have Kelli, especially since she is now also producing a sketch comedy series for MTV’s gay channel Logo. The show is being directed by “Married … with Children” star Amanda Bearse, who’s commuting from her home in Georgia to oversee things.
Rosie herself is not in the as-yet-untitled show, a cabaret/variety program that features all gay performers and one straight one, a beautiful young black woman with Broadway credits named Erica Ashe.
Ashe has a big sense of humor. “I like to say I’m the show’s token minority, but not because I’m black for a change,” she joked.
Rosie, who comes from the world of stand-up comedy, did a short riff on various subjects for us while we all ate mini lobster rolls, using Oprah as a motif.
“I came out of my house,” she said, “and Gayle King, Oprah’s best friend, was standing on the sidewalk. I got so excited! I said, 'Oh my god, it’s Gayle, Oprah’s best friend,' as if Oprah would be there next!” She laughed.
“The whole time I talked to her, she kept backing away, like this,” said Rosie, who inched away from us for a second. “I think I scared her. Then a [blogging site] said someone saw me talking to a man and a woman on the street, who looked like they wanted to get away from me. That was Gayle King! It was hysterical!”
It’s very weird that accused murderer Phil Spector is now involved in a mean lawsuit with his ex-assistant Michele Blaine. They’re suing each other, while Spector still awaits trial after allegedly killing actress Lana Clarkson more than three years ago.
What the wire stories don't say is that Michele is the daughter of famed drummer Hal Blaine, who labored for Spector in the ‘60s in his Wrecking Crew on dozens of hit records.
Blaine also played on six consecutive Grammy Award Record of the Year winners: “A Taste of Honey” (1966); “Strangers in the Night” (1967); “Up, Up, and Away” (1968); “Mrs. Robinson” (1969); “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (1970); and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (1971)…
Isaac Hayes’ Scientology spokespeople issued all kinds of denials again yesterday about this column’s story about his January stroke and who resigned him from “South Park.” It’s notable that they've never called us to say any of this.
Isaac did not want anyone to know he had a stroke in January, and we kept that secret without being asked. But now that statements keep coming out about him, and no one’s seen him, it seems important to say exactly what happened. We wish him a speedy recovery.
As a mutual friend said yesterday, “He never cared what they said in "South Park." He just wanted to be paid better for playing Chef…
And you can ignore dire tales of famed hit-maker Billy Preston’s family being denied access to him while he remains in a “semi-coma” in an Arizona hospital.
Preston, I am assured by several sources, is getting the best health care in the world. His doctors will not permit Billy to have a “Million Dollar Baby” type scene in his hospital room with suddenly concerned family members…