EMMY NODS: SOPRANOS GETS MORE BANG FOR THE BLANK

The Sopranos may have ended with a blank screen, but it filled up the list of Emmy nominations announced today (Thursday) with 15 bids, including best drama, best actor (James Gandolfini) and best actress (Edie Falco) in its categories. Nevertheless, the made-for-TV movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee counted up the most nominations, 17. Three new shows also made the list of contenders -- Heroes, Ugly Betty, and 30 Rock. Nominees for best comedy series included: The Office, Entourage, 30 Rock, Two and a Half Men and Ugly Betty. For best drama series: Boston Legal, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, House and The Sopranos. For best actor in a drama series: Hugh Laurie, House; James Gandolfini, The Sopranos; Kiefer Sutherland, 24; Denis Leary, Rescue Me; James Spader, Boston Legal. For best actress in a drama series: Edie Falco, The Sopranos; Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer; Sally Field, Brothers and Sisters; Minnie Driver, The Riches; Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU. For best actor in a comedy series: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock; Steve Carell, The Office; Tony Shalhoub, Monk; Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men; Ricky Gervais, Extras. For best actress in a comedy series: America Ferrera, Ugly Betty; Tina Fey, 30 Rock; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine; Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds.

CBS PRESIDENT WELCOMES CONTROVERSY OVER NEW SHOWS

CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said Thursday that she will welcome controversy over the network's new programs for the fall season. Insisting that the network plans to be "adventurous ... daring and bold and different," Tassler told the TV critics' summer press tour in Beverly Hills that she expected some of the programs to generate negative comment from critics -- in particular, the wife-swapping drama Swingtown. "I hope there are concerns about it. I really do," she said. "We're going to push the envelope with that show." In regards to Kids Nation, a new reality show in which kids create their own society without adult supervision, Tassler said that she expected it "to stir public debate." Asked to explain the departure of Mandy Patinkin from Criminal Minds, Tassler said that he had left because of "personal reasons." When one reporter pointed out that the official announcement said that Patinkin had left because of "creative differences," she responded: "I think 'creative differences' is a euphemism for personal issues." She declined to discuss the matter further. "I don't feel that this is the forum in which I'd like to have that conversation," she said. However, in an interview with today's (Thursday) New York Times, Ed Bernero, the show's executive producer, expressed anger over Patinkin's sudden departure. "I don't get the idea out here that someone can walk away from their job and then everyone bends over backward to make it look like it's our fault," he said. "Everyone was worried last week about protecting the show, and then they released a statement that protects everyone but the show. Why can't we just tell the truth? We expected him to show up for work, and he didn't."

SUGAR TREATS VOLUNTARILY BANNED FOR KIDS' TV

"Trix is for kids," the slogan may go, but Trix will no longer be for kids' TV shows. Ads for the colorful cereal will vanish from Saturday-morning fare, along with other ads for high-sugar products, including candy bars and soft drinks, eleven giant food and beverage companies pledged at a Federal Trade Commission forum in Washington Wednesday. They include Kellogg, Kraft, Cadbury, Campbell Soup, General Mills, Mars, McDonald's, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and Hershey.

MURDOCH'S INFLUENCE IN U.K. WAR DECISION TOLD

As a decision was awaited on whether the Bancroft family, which holds the majority of voting rights in the company that publishes the Wall Street Journal, would approve a sale of the company to Rupert Murdoch, the London Independent today (Thursday) produced new documents revealing Murdoch's behind-the-scenes political power. The newspaper said that after first rejecting its request under the Freedom of Information Act for information about former Prime Minister Tony Blair's contacts with Murdoch, the Cabinet Office "in a surprise change of heart" disclosed Wednesday that Blair had had three conversations with Murdoch in the nine days prior to the start of the Iraq war in 2003. The war was strongly supported by Murdoch's newspapers in Britain, one of which, the Sun, at the time of the Blair-Murdoch phone conversations, began blasting France for failing to do so as well. Referring to French President Jacques Chirac, who opposed the war, the Sun said at the time: "This grandstanding egomaniac has inflicted irreparable damage on some of the most important yet fragile structures of international order."

BBC ADMITS NUMEROUS PHONE-IN CONTESTS WERE RIGGED

Caught in a scandal reminiscent of the payola revelations in the U.S. in the 1950s, the BBC on Wednesday suspended all phone-in contests, indicating that it had discovered additional "serious editorial breaches." Last week, the British TV regulator OFCOM imposed a $100,000 fine after one such contest was exposed as a fake. The BBC said that its internal review had revealed that at least six other contests had "failed to meet editorial standards." BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said that "emerging evidence" suggested additional rigged contests and that some producers could be suspended. He said that the publicly supported broadcaster's 16,500 staff members would be required to attend ethical training courses. "We must now swiftly put our house in order," he said.

Brian B.