'The Sopranos' | Paul McCartney | Odds 'n' Ends

Bloodbath on 'The Sopranos'

Tony Soprano is alone at last.

In Sunday night's episode of "The Sopranos," one of Tony's two top aides, Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri, was murdered by the New York mob. Tony's other lieutenant, Silvio Dante, was shot, left for dead and may not regain consciousness.

To make matters worse, Tony's therapist of seven years, Dr. Melfi, fired him. And Tony's sister, Janice, asked him for money to continue supporting their uncle, Junior Soprano, in a mental hospital even though he was there for shooting Tony in cold blood.

The episode ended with Tony and his remaining crew "going to the mattresses" in a house that looked like the old Soprano family home, which has been abandoned since Tony's mother died. The mob boss falls asleep in an upstairs bedroom holding a machine gun.

This might have been the way "Sopranos" creator David Chase envisioned the last scene. Nearly everyone got a chance to say goodbye — even fan favorite restaurateurs Artie and Charmaine Bucco. Only Uncle Junior was absent.

But then, when he was shooting this episode, Chase decided to do one more hour. Next week we will actually see what happens to Tony Soprano. It doesn't look good.

It turns out that Tony and his gang, beloved by viewers, are being punished for their murderous, psychotic behavior. It almost seems unfair. After seven years of wanton killing and torture, the Sopranos and friends are getting their comeuppance.

This comes only a couple of episodes after Tony coldly smothered to death his nephew and surrogate son, Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). I think we knew then that things were out of control.

The ending, as it appears now, will quash any idea of a "Sopranos" movie, or reunion shows a la "Dallas" or "Dynasty." Even if Tony somehow walks away from this mess next week — perhaps going into the Federal Witness Protection Program — nearly everyone else the audience cared about is dead.

Of particular note: Chase gave Lorraine Bracco a couple of terrific farewell scenes as Dr. Melfi became convinced all those therapy sessions had been for naught. Bracco most certainly deserves an Emmy nomination for best supporting actress.

And so the end is one week away. Chances are HBO, which is enthusiastically promoting a raft of new shows, will get its highest rating ever next Sunday night, maybe the biggest number ever for a cable show.

Web site forums for "The Sopranos" are buzzing with gossip. One rumor: Tony gets his revenge and murders New York boss Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent).

What is known: The final show has a scene with Tony, Carmela and A.J. at a New Jersey ice cream parlor. Is it a dream? A metaphor? And what music will be playing? We will have to wait six days to find out the answers.

And by the way: The psychiatric research to which Dr. Kupferberg (Peter Bogdanovich) keeps referring is real. Drs. Stanton E. Samenow and Samuel Yochelson collaborated on "The Criminal Personality," a three-volume study that appeared between 1977 and 1986. Yochelson died in 1976, but Samenow went on to publish the study and has continued to be a leader in writing about psychopathic behavior.

What doesn't make sense: That Kupferberg refers to their work as current when it is 20- to 30-years old. You would think he would have mentioned the study to Dr. Melfi when she first told him Tony Soprano was her patient.

McCartney: Beatles' End Retold

Paul McCartney is about to be everywhere. His new album, "Memory Almost Full," hits Starbucks stores Tuesday in an unprecedented publicity and marketing blitz.

Of course, the main thing is: The album is very, very good. It's McCartney's best since the excellent "Flaming Pie" in 1997. Some of the songs on it are outstanding. "Ever Present Past," a kind of companion to his 1989 "My Brave Face," is a genius bit of pop. A five-song cycle that comprises the end of the album, along with a short rocker "Nod Your Head," could not be more perfect.

But still, the PR blitz means McCartney magazine profiles. Some of them, without meaning to, attempt to rewrite history. A very good piece in last week's New Yorker is a case in point.

To wit: It was McCartney, and not the always reviled Yoko Ono or the easily fingered Allen Klein, who brought about the end of the Beatles. At a meeting among all the parties in 1969, it was revealed that McCartney had violated a long-held agreement between him and John Lennon.

The pair had a tacit understanding that neither of them would ever buy more shares than the other in the music publisher that owned their songs at the time. Steven Gaines and Peter Brown describe the meeting in the very good Beatles biography, "The Love You Make." Brown was the Beatles' longtime publicist and present at every important event.

At the meeting, it was revealed that Paul and his lawyer/father-in-law Lee Eastman had been buying extra shares by the handful. Brown reveals in the book that at that point Paul had 751,000 shares of Northern Songs; John had 644,000. Upon learning this, Lennon, enraged, exited the meeting. Brown says he called Paul a "bastard." It was all over. The Beatles were done.

I asked Paul about this for a feature profile I wrote about him and Linda in 1989. Knowing Lennon would get so angry, would he do it again, I wondered?

Paul did not hesitate.

"Absolutely," he replied. "I was investing in myself."

It was almost the same answer Paul had given John at that meeting.

In that sense, it was a smart move. McCartney today, with the help of Eastman, is a billionaire. And whether you like his solo work or not, McCartney became even richer following the Beatles' break-up thanks to a wildly successful career.

But let's not allow history to be rewritten. Avarice broke up the Beatles, not a wife or a girlfriend.

Jacko Auction; Soap Star's Best Seller

Universal Express figures it collected between $1.5 million and $2 million at auction last week for all that junk Henry Vaccaro placed with them from his New Jersey warehouse. That includes Michael Jackson's old outfits, gloves and awards.

Of course, it was the stuff that didn't go on auction that people really wanted to see: Michael's whitening creams, his art and book collections and some personal items of Janet Jackson's that might have been of interest. Universal Express promises a sequel; perhaps the best is yet to come.

Actress Victoria Rowell's memoir, "The Women Who Raised Me," is a hit. I'm not surprised. The star of "The Young and the Restless" — she's on leave now after her character fell off a cliff — is the most enterprising, ambitious and achieving beauty ever to rattle Hollywood.

Raised in the foster-home system, Rowell went on to fame and glory but never forget where she came from. "The Women Who Raised Me" reads like non-fiction Terry McMillan — and it's already got a cult following on Amazon.com — among customer reviewers. Don't miss it.