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Through the Wire

12/01/2006 7:00 PM Eastern

It’s Not HBO — More Like Scorsese

It read like a script out of The Sopranos, so it only seems appropriate the mob-centered series was a reference point in the recently concluded trial in Tampa, Fla., in which alleged affiliates of mobster John Gotti Jr. were prosecuted for racketeering and extortion.

Officials there tried four members of a local crime crew: Ronald “Ronnie One Arm” Trucchio, Steven Catalano, Kevin McMahon and Terry Scaglione on charges of armed robbery of a Sears store and the beating of a local used-car dealer in a nudie bar.

According to an account in the St. Petersburg Times, at one point, a parking valet was put on the stand to relate how a business associate of Trucchio allegedly threatened him. The valet, Ian McGeehan, was threatened with bodily harm if he did not provide the crew with information about the lot where he worked. McGeehan said he thought it was a joke, a cliché.

The prosecuting attorney asked for clarification: “You mean, like The Sopranos? Gangsters from New Jersey,” the prosecutors asked, referring to the threat.

The valet paused, and then said, “I don’t have cable TV. It was more like Goodfellas,” referring to Martin Scorsese’s 1990 Mafia movie.

All four men were convicted of all charges, the Times reported.

Honoring Shows That Play Well at Family Gatherings

Though some cable programming has a racy image, its fare was represented among the 10 awards that were given this year at the eighth annual Family Television Awards.

The Family Friendly Programming Forum, whose members are selected by the Association of National Advertisers, bestowed those honors.

The forum liked TNT’s The Ron Clark Story, which depicted the life of a young teacher who embraced the challenge of teaching at one of the most troubled schools in Harlem and starred Matthew Perry; and Disney Channel’s High School Musical.

Tony Shalhoub of USA’s Monk was honored as best actor at the awards handed out in Beverly Hills on Nov. 29.

The ceremony will be telecast on The CW on Dec. 12.

Santa’s Cousins Hit Streets With HGTV’s Good Cheer

A block south of another famed St. Nick hangout — Macy’s at 34th Street and Herald Square — HGTV established a Manhattan Santa Claus outpost last Thursday.

To kick off the “HGTV Make it Home for the Holidays” celebration, 51 of Santa’s cousins (as Diane Sawyer called them on Good Morning America) circled Greeley Square Park on Broadway, riding pedibikes and representing the states and the District of Columbia.

The mobile Santas delivered HGTV’s $25,000 check to Rebuilding Together, the nation’s largest all-volunteer home rehabilitation organization. The Scripps service will match that amount, $1 at a time, when users log on to hgtv.com/makeithome.

That microsite has video and still images of HGTV president Judy Girard and network series talent, including Junk Brothers Jim and Steve Kelley and 24 Hour Design’s Angelo Surmelis. They were on hand over the weekend at the stage, house facade and tent HGTV erected at the park.

Inside, consumers could create a video greeting CD with on-air talent they could bring home and then e-mail the image to other family members and friends. There were also daily travel certificate drawings.

Site visitors can witness the parade of Santa’s helpers, which also received coverage on local breakfast show Good Day New York on WNYW.

Introduced by Designed to Sell host Clive Pearse, the Santas — HGTV senior vice president of programming Michael Dingley joked that they were contracted from Local 141, the North Pole — were adorned in state-specific regalia. The Arizona entrant was billed as Cactus Santa, “spiky, but seasonal” for the plant he wore underneath his red cap; while Syrupy Santa held up a bottle of Vermont’s maple elixir.

Pearse’s personal favorite heralded Rhode Island, “the smallest Santa and a close friend of Lisa La Porte,” his diminutive Designed to Sell co-host.

MGM Buys Rights to FlickMade By 'Stargate’ Alums

Over their summer vacation, cast members of Sci Fi Channel’s conjoined Stargate Atlantis and Stargate SG-1 shows borrowed some costumes and props from the set and put on a really cool stage show at David Hewlett’s family barn in Iowa.

Ha ha, just kidding. Actually, during the Sci Fi shows’ hiatus, Hewlett (Dr. Rodney McKay on Atlantis) wrote and directed a darkly comedic independent movie, A Dog’s Breakfast, that he stars in with his sister, Kate Hewlett.

Also in the film: Christopher Judge (SG-1’s Teal’c), Paul McGillion (Dr. Beckett on Atlantis) and Rachel Luttrell (Teyla on Atlantis), as well as Amanda Byram (The Swan) and Mars the Dog. It was shot in high definition for under $1 million, with the stars and Canadian production houses helping keep costs low.

With all that talent from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer shows, MGM basically had to buy the distribution rights. Which it did, with an eye toward TV and DVD releases.

A clip Hewlett posted on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpUJLMnr2NE) quickly drew 100,000 views.

No word from MGM yet on a possible Season 11 for SG-1, possibly distributed via broadband. Sci Fi declined to order another season for the record-breaking series, though it did renew Atlantis and recently said SG-1 star Amanda Tapping’s Samantha Carter would cross over to Atlantis next season.

September