- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2006

Brand new bag

On last Sunday’s episode of “The Sopranos,” which parodied that embarrassment of riches known as the celebrity gift bag, mobster Christopher Moltisanti asked, “Why do only a few people who don’t need it get all the cool things in the world for free?”

After tonight’s 33rd annual Daytime Emmy Awards (airing at 8 on ABC), there’s sure to be endless chatter about the chosen few who’ll walk off with Emmy gold, but the avalanche of perks awaiting show hosts Kelly Monaco and Tom Bergeron and other award presenters merits its own conversation.

Hopefully, there won’t be a fiend on hand to mug some unsuspecting star as Christopher did to Lauren Bacall (appearing as herself on last Sunday’s “Sopranos”). But after glancing at the extensive list of luxury freebies contained in the $40,000 goodie bag awaiting Emmy participants, you might be sorely tempted to grab a bag for yourself. According to XETV, San Diego’s Fox affiliate, the bounty includes:

• The Sam’s Club Luxury Gift Collection, which features a one-year membership to the discount retailer, Dom Perignon champagne, a dozen long-stem roses, wine country explorer package for two, Philips GoGear 6GB MP3 Player with colored LCD, Kodak V530 digital camera with photograph frame dock, Channellock mechanic’s tool set, Samsung digital 1gb audio player, 7-inch Magnavox portable DVD player and more;

• Laser Eye Center of Silicon Valley complimentary wavefront guided LASIK surgery;

• GoddessLife Belly Dance in a Box and a private Goddess Workout Session with dancer, author and GoddessLife founder Dolphina;

• Fiskars school, office and craft engraved titanium nitride coated scissors;

• Designs for You/Furr Me Luxury Dog Spa Products;

• Riptopia Digital Bliss, featuring 1,000 CDs downloaded to the star’s IPod or MP3 Player;

• Kashwere Dog Sweater for Your Pampered Pup

As if this weren’t enough, many celebrities will have the opportunity to customize their own gift bags in the Emmys’ official talent gift lounge backstage, where they can choose from a prestigious assortment of the season’s “must-have” luxury goods and services and indulge in some pre-show pampering, says XETV.

Gearing up for sweeps

Much like McDonald’s, NBC had recently done away with “supersizing” its products.

But come the May sweeps (which actually begin Sunday evening), big will be back.

Zap2it.com reports that episodes of “Will & Grace,” “My Name Is Earl” and “The Office” (the latter two are season finales) will all get the pumped-up treatment on May 11. Each show will run 40 minutes that night, reviving a ratings-grabbing gambit the network had forsworn during the Fall sweeps.

The theory is that viewers will get some extra chuckles (and an extra commercial break) with each show, and the odd running times may make them less inclined to switch channels at a half-hour break, notes Zap2it.com.

The next-to-last episode of “Will & Grace” will lead off the night, with Tony winner Bernadette Peters guest-starring as Gin, Karen’s (Megan Mullally) long-lost sister. The episode also will feature Josh Lucas (of the upcoming film “Poseidon,” opening May 12) playing himself and offering career advice to Jack (Sean Hayes). Viewers can also expect a bit of baby drama between Grace (Debra Messing) and Will (Eric McCormack), courtesy of Will’s boyfriend, Vince (Bobby Cannavale).

Tidbits from the evening’s other highlights:

• On “My Name Is Earl,” the title character (Jason Lee) continues his soul cleansing to override the bad life choices he made in earlier years but finds it’s not so easy to repay the $10 he stole from a guy at the Camden Market: He owes the guy all of his lottery gains since the winning ticket was financed by the petty theft.

• “Office” star Steve Carell wrote the script for his show’s season finale, in which Michael (Mr. Carell) organizes a charity casino night for the employees of Dunder Mifflin. The festive atmosphere leads some of the staff to take other kinds of gambles.

Smut out for papal stay

TVP, Poland’s public broadcaster, will ban all shows containing erotic and violent scenes during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the country next month, Agence France-Presse reports.

During his three-day stay May 25 through May 28, Benedict XVI will visit Warsaw, Krakow, the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, the shrine of the Black Madonna in Czestochowa, and Wadowice, the birthplace of John Paul II, Polish officials said.

More than 90 percent of Poles say they are Roman Catholic.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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