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Coming Soon: Sopranos' Home Journal

Don't forget -- TeeVee's Dead Pool contest is on.

That nice Rosie O'Donnell has taken her magazine and gone home, a move which will undoubtedly prompt a lot of people to ask probing questions about the wisdom of staking a magazine on a celebrity, or whether or not this means celebrity is now considered a corporate liability, or any number of things wherein people will try to predict the financial future of magazines based on the involvement of talk-show hosts.

I leave the probing questions to the people who have the free time to answer them. What I want to know is: why can't fictional television characters have their own magazine instead?

Think about all the reasons Rosie didn't work out: the dissonance between her televised persona and actual personality, her insistence on having editorial input, her owning her own name and image. With completely made-up characters, there is never the risk that they'll surprise you by revealing their group marriage with three men named Thor, or say anything that inadvertently undermines that month's cover story. They'll never threaten to take their good name elsewhere. They'll never do anything unpredictable. Fictional characters are completely malleable -- and the audience still loves them.

What the good people at Gruner + Jahr should do is brainstorm which beloved television character can revive Rosie, then negotiate like hell with the studio that owns the show. Perhaps this is a way for Friends to continue even after it goes off the air; once the last episode airs, a magazine surfaces in which Monica, Rachel and Phoebe tackle everything from feng shui to Fendi. Oh, sure, there would be "real" writers and editors behind the day-to-day business of running a magazine, but the reason people would buy it would be to see what Monica had to say that month about the proper way to hang bowling shirts. Perhaps this is a way to extend a show's brand: following her husband's inevitable conviction or assassination, Carmela Soprano coulds revive Lear's, the magazine for women who believed that life really begins in one's forties. Soprano has a much better ring to it anyway.

The possibilities are endless, and the downside of discovering that one's television friend has feet of clay/tricky ImClone dealings/free will need never be a worry. Just give up all pretense of real people behind the celebrity label, and your troubles are all over.


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