Anthony Neste/HBO
Matthew Flamm
February 25, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

It hasn’t taken long for ”The Sopranos” to go from cult favorite to media hit. But getting out an authorized companion book on the Mob saga is another story: Last year a proposed deal with Dell got shot full of holes at the last minute, and the show’s second season began with the book buried somewhere in the Jersey wetlands. But now an official book is finally set for the fall, though the cable company is treating the project like a sealed indictment. ”We’re not at the point where we can give out any more details,” says an HBO spokesman.

In the meantime, ibooks, a new Web- and print-based publishing house, is filling the gap with ”The New York Times on The Sopranos,” a collection consisting mainly of articles and essays that first ran in the paper of record. Noting the legal crackdown in recent years on unauthorized guides, ibooks president Byron Preiss says the press — and the Times — avoided copyright infringement charges by following ”every rule that the courts have provided.” That includes showing only news photos of actors, not on-set photos of characters.

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