It was one thing for the character played by Joseph R. Gannascolito be beaten to death with pool cues and sodomized with one on The Sopranos after the mob learned he was gay; it was quite another for Gannascoli to endorse a Rockwell Billiards pool cue inscribed with the phrase "A Cue to Die For," the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation protested Monday. "It's highly inappropriate that what served as a very real example of the hateful violence the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community faces is now being used as a gimmick to sell a product," GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano said in a statement. "The insensitive inclusion of the pool cue in the 'To Die For' marketing theme betrays the legacy of The Sopranos character and is unacceptable." GLAAD is demanding that the words "A Cue to Die For" be removed from the product and that Rockwell Billiards and Gannascoli "apologize for using such a vulgar symbol of violence and anti-gay bigotry to make a profit."


Fans actually attending some National Football League games next season will be able to access most of the game information that they would get if they were watching the game on TV at home, thanks to a deal signed Monday between Montreal-based Kangaroo Media, DirecTV, and the NFL. Broadcasting & Cablereported Monday on its website that ticket holders attending games at the stadium homes of the Seattle Seahawks, the Houston Texans, the Miami Dolphins and the Washington Redskins will be able to rent hand-held devices that will allow them to watch live statistics, the CBS and Fox pre-game shows, and access information about any game in the NFL currently being played. The device is expected to rent for $24.95 for a single game and $119.95 for season-ticket holders. The devices had been tested last season in Miami and Washington D.C.


It hardly seems like the sort of fare you'd generally find on what was once called The Learning Channel and is now referred to simply as TLC, but the Discovery-owned channel announced Monday that it has purchased the rights to televise the Miss America pageant for the next three years. The pageant had seen its ratings plummet on broadcast television and was passed on to cable TV after the 2004 show drew a record-low 9.8 million viewers. But Viacom's CMT was even less successful in attracting viewers -- fewer than 3 million tuned in last year -- and decided not to exercise its rights to continue running it. In 1960 the Miss America Pageant drew 85 million viewers.


Eighty-two-year-old John Rigas, once among the most powerful cable-TV executives in the country, and his son Timothy, 51, entered a North Carolina federal prison Monday to begin serving 15-year and 20-year sentences respectively for securities and bank fraud that brought down Adelphia Communications, the cable system that the elder Rigas founded. Federal investigators had concluded that the Rigases had used Adelphia as their own "personal bank account" to loot it of hundreds of millions of dollars that they used for such things as flying two Christmas trees to New York at a cost of $6,000.


American Idolhas proved to be less of a hit off Broadway than it was on television. Idol: The Musical closed one day after it opened "due to a lack of advance ticket sales, a lack of positive feedback from audience members and critics and a lack of sustainable financial resources," producer Todd Ellis said in a statement. The musical, which satirized the TV show and its fans, had begun preview performances on July 5 with a cast that was unceremoniously dumped a few weeks later and replaced without explanation.


In the past few years newspaper sportswriters have made a steady migration to cable television, Washington Postsports columnist Norman Chad commented Monday. "We've gone from minor nuisance to cultural menace," he wrote, adding that all over cable and talk radio "there are sports journalists blabbing, gabbing, fretting, chatting, arguing, debating and, mostly, shouting. ... We used to just write, eat and drink; now we just talk, eat and drink. Who has time to write?" It's all become a great boon for the sportswriters, Chad observed. "If ESPN got out of the sports business tomorrow, half of America's top sports columnists would have to send their children back to public schools." Chad concluded: "If I had more time, I'd figure out a better way to express myself and end this column properly, but I have to go commentate on an ESPN World Series of Poker telecast."