"The Sopranos' " stranglehold on awards shows no sign of weakening.
HBO's runaway mob series -- a hit at last month's Golden Globes -- has staked out four nominations for best direction in a TV series from the Directors Guild of America, making it the first drama series ever to walk away with four mentions in a single category for the same year. The DGA's TV categories were announced Monday.
The four "Sopranos" helmers tapped for the best director award are: Daniel Attias, for the episode titled "46 Long"; Henry J. Bronchtein, for "Nobody Know Anything"; David Chase, for the pilot episode; and Allen Coulter, for "College." The "Sopranos" foursome is up against Thomas Schlamme for his work on the pilot episode of NBC's "The West Wing."
The nominees for best director in a TV comedy series are: James Burrows, for an episode titled "Yours, Mine, Ours" of NBC's "Will & Grace"; Thomas Schlamme, for the episode "Small Town" from ABC's "Sports Night"; Pamela Fryman, for the "Frasier" episode "The Flight Before Christmas"; Katy Garretson, for the "Frasier" episode "Dr. Nora"; and Victoria Hochberg, for "The Man, The Myth, The Viagra" from HBO's racy "Sex and the City."
In the category of best director of a musical variety show, the DGA nominated Gerard Foley for CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman"; Dennie A. Gordon, for HBO's "Tracey Takes On ... End of the World"; Louis J. Horvitz, for the "71st Annual Academy Awards" on ABC; Rob Marshall for ABC's "Annie"; and Beth McCarthy Miller, for NBC's "Saturday Night Live 25th Anniversary."
The Directors Guild of America Awards will be announced March 11.
'MALCOLM' ON THE RISE: The fledgling Fox smash sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" is set to continue its comic form, as the network has ordered up 16 new episodes.
The light comedy has been a surprise hit since its debut last month and has been holding its turf as the top-ranked show during its 8:30-9 p.m. Sunday time slot. Its renewal comes as an expected move given the overall unspectacular lineup plaguing Fox of late.
Three of the 16 new "Malcolm" episodes will run as extra installments during the May sweeps; the remaining 13 are slated for the show's 2000-2001 fall season.
MALLRATS OF THE WORLD UNITE: Looks like MTV has stumbled upon a cost-efficient, foolproof formula for grabbing the undivided attention of 18- to 24-year-olds: Put real-life folks in probable confrontational situations, tape them, and then broadcast the video for the consumption of viewers worldwide.
Such is the concept of MTV's latest exploit -- "Mall Confession," another quasi-"drama" series being developed for the teen-music empire. In the cinema-verité tradition of "The Real World" and "Road Rules," the new "Mall Confession" is said to involve a traveling confessional booth that will solicit personal testimonies and intimate secrets from teens in malls across America.
No word yet if MTV's upright Carson Daly will be on hand to offer absolution.
THE HUMANITY OF IT ALL: And now a moment of silence for "Shasta."
The low-rated hip-hop sitcom, formerly titled "Shasta McNasty," will depart UPN's prime-time lineup next month. Starting March 21, the network will place the new cop drama, "The Beat," in the 9-10 p.m. Tuesday time slot. The move also will bump UPN's "Dilbert" toon from the schedule. Both departing shows will see their last air dates on March 14.
Produced by Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana ("Homicide"), "The Beat" follows Derek Cecil and Mark Ruffal as two young policemen fighting crime and personal evils in Manhattan's Lower East Side.
WHERE'S ROSIE: Rosie O'Donnell, seemingly the hardest-working woman on TV, will have a guest spot on NBC's "Third Watch" on Feb. 21.