Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mobster Steps Down, Successor Unknown

Vincent Pastore, who played a tough-guy mobster in the early years of "The Sopranos,' has dropped out of "Dancing With the Stars" after a week of training.

At least this time he wasn't sent off to sleep with the fishes, the fate that befell his "Sopranos" character. "I didn't realize just how physically demanding it would be for me. Unable to put forth my best effort, I felt it appropriate to step aside and give someone else the opportunity," Pastore said in a statement Wednesday.

The 60-year-old actor had joined 10 other celebrities for the fourth season of ABC's 10-week dance competition, which returns March 19.

"ABC will be announcing a replacement shortly," said Conrad Green, executive producer of "Dancing With the Stars."

The new cast includes Olympic skater Apolo Anton Ohno, boxer Laila Ali, former 'N Sync member Joey Fatone, country singer-actor Billy Ray Cyrus and Paul McCartney's estranged wife, Heather Mills.

Mills, an activist for animal rights and the elimination of the use of land mines, will be the show's first contestant with an artificial limb. She told TV entertainment show "Extra" in an interview set to air Wednesday that "it's very unlikely" her prosthetic leg will "fly off." To prevent such an incident, she said she will wear a special strap. She lost her leg below the knee in a motorcycle accident in 1993.

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