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The Walrus is Paulie

After ducking the press for weeks, David Chase showed up at the TV Critics Association's annual trophy show and made not one but two cracks about his non-ending to HBO's "The Sopranos."

Critics have been navel-gazing since the "Sopranos" final episode cut to black leaving them, and viewers, wondering whether mob boss Tony Soprano got whacked at the diner or continued eating onion rings with his family.

TV Critics gave two trophies to Chase: the best drama series award and the group's so called Heritage Award.

Chase's first comment about the ending: "The Walrus was Paulie."

We, and pretty much everyone else, assumed he was referring to the show's character Paulie Gualtieri and to the "The Walrus was Paul" lyric from The Beatles tune "Glass Onion" from The White Album.

John Lennon was quoted saying he threw in that line to confuse everybody more in regards to the urban legend that Beatle Paul McCartney had died while recording Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and replaced by a Paul imitator -- you know, play it backwards, it says "Paul is dead," blah, blah, blah.

Lennon said he was laughing at people because there'd been so much "gobbledegook about Sgt. Pepper -- play it backwards and you stand on your head and all that."

Ironically -- or not -- about 80 percent of the gobbledegook about "The Sopranos" finale had been written by critics in the room. They had just given Chase a standing ovation.

Later that night, Chase came back on stage, along with his "The Sopranos" entourage, to pick up the TCA's Heritage Award -- aka The So-Long Trophy -- which is often given to a show that's gone off the air. Last year's recipient was NBC's expiring White House drama, "The West Wing."

At the podium, Chase once again referred to "The Sopranos" ending -- in case you missed it, the screen went black for several seconds just as Tony Sopranos' daughter, having parallel parked her car, rushes in to the diner to join Dad, Mom and deadbeat brother in the eating of onion rings while a menacing guy from the diner walked past Tony to the loo -- recalling that when he was in college he had gone to see "Planet of the Apes" and when it was over, said to his wife, "Wow, so they had a Statue of Liberty too."

"So that's what you're up against," Chase joked, triggering another round of gobbledegook from critics.

Alec Baldwin actually came up with the best bit about "The Sopranos" ending at the TCA Awards, when he took the stage to receive the best comedy performance trophy for his work on NBC's comedy "30 Rock."

He told this long story about having switched agents because the new one promised to get him an appearance on "The Sopranos" which never happened and then one blistering hot summer days he goes to the wrong Four Seasons -- the hotel, not the restaurant -- in Manhattan to see some rich socialite about helping her raise money for some charity and when he discovers his mistake and rushes to the right Four Seasons -- the restaurant, not the hotel -- his shirt, which he's wearing under a jacket, is soaked in sweat.

So he excuses himself and goes to the men's room and takes off his jacket and his shirt and starts drying his shirt on the hand-dryer-blower machine. And "into this room walks David Chase. I'm drying my shirt. Thank you all very much for this award."

In other TCA Awards news: Michael C. Hall's work as a serial killer/forensics specialist in Showtime's crime drama "Dexter" was declared the best drama performance of the 2006-07 TV season. Discovery/BBC's multi-part documentary "Planet Earth" was named best news and information program as well as best movie, miniseries or special. ABC Family's "Kyle XY" nabbed the win for best kids' program. NBC's "The Office" copped the win for best comedy, while NBC's sci-fi drama "Heroes" was named Program for the Year, and NBC's about-much-more-than-football drama "Friday Night Lights" was declared the past TV season's best new program. And Mary Tyler Moore did not show up to receive the group's career-achievement award. She did, however, send a letter of thanks which was read to the crowd. It contained no reference to the ending of "The Sopranos."

By Lisa de Moraes  |  July 22, 2007; 3:57 AM ET
Categories:  Summer TV Press Tour 2007  
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