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Q+A: ‘Sopranos’ star Steve Schirripa juggles new book and TV projects

2011 Keep Memory Alive Gala

Tom Donoghue/

Steve Schirripa on the 2011 Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala red carpet at the Bellagio on Feb. 26, 2011.

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Adam Ehrlich, 33, of Philadelphia, left, celebrates a hand during NBC's taping Sunday of "Face the Ace," hosted by Steve Schirripa, center, at South Point.

It didn’t take long for actor Steve Schirripa to bounce back to life after he was hit and bumped off from the final episodes of HBO’s “The Sopranos.” Now he’s got a new reality TV series, “Karma’s a Bitch,” premiering May 2.

“It’s a delightfully devious world of unrelenting revenge,” said longtime Las Vegas resident Steve. “From scorned spouses, upset exes and deadbeat dads, this is a hefty serving of what goes around comes around. It is the most outrageous and innovative way of getting mad -- and even.”

I talked with Steve on a visit to the Keep Memory Alive event center at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The former Riviera entertainment director turned actor and TV host said: “Our premiere episode has three stories of brilliant retribution.

“Our follow-up episode 30 minutes later is one story worthy of its own show of a woman framed by her ex-boyfriend. She lost everything and spent seven months in jail behind bars before being able to expose his evil plot.”

My longtime TV pal Henry Schleiff, president of cable channel Investigation Discovery, said: “Revenge is a dish best served cold, and for the cold-hearted lowlifes featured on Steve’s show, they definitely had it coming. There’s no better host than Steve to … walk us through the ways to settle the score.”

For Steve, it’s a return to the network that reaches 82 million households. He was host and executive producer for two successful seasons of I.D.'s “Nothing Personal.” He also currently stars on ABC’s “Secret Life of the American Teenager.”

As if his TV shows aren’t keeping him busy enough, Steve also has written a new book, “Big Daddy’s Rules: Raising Daughters Is Tougher Than I Look,” being published in June by Simon & Schuster. It’s a tough-guy hilarious stance on what it takes to raise kids today.

Said Steve: “When it comes to being a dad, I think staying calm is overrated. I have no patience for a lot of what I see going on around me, with my kids, with other kids and especially with other parents. And I’m not shy about saying so. Sometimes very loudly.”

An advance look at his book proves that he’s not afraid to shed light on egregious behavior that he’s encountered, from parents who let their children run wild to a mother so eager to be best friend to her daughter that they got tattoos together.

He added: “I’m unapologetic in maintaining the best tool is still the simple straightforward declaration ‘do it because I said so.’ I’m incensed with these new parenting rules that insist on finding something positive to say about everything a child does no matter how lame it is. I won’t put up with back talk to prove I’m cool. Quality time is just too convenient a notion. “

Steve shares tips on teaching kids the value of money and work; his strict approach to teenage sex, drugs and drinking; and personal, uproarious stories of his own over-the-top parenting style.

Steve and his wife have two daughters: Bria, 21, and Ciara, 17. “There’s a lot of differences between moms and dads as it plays out in our household,” he laughed. The portrait of the ins and outs of his life as a father is a delight. “Big Daddy’s Rules” is a winning mix of wise guys, wisecracks and wise words in street-smart bravado and self-effacing humor.

“I wanted a call to action for dads to return to commonsense parenting and reclaim their role as protector and holder of values to be passed down to the next generation,” Steve summed up.

“I knew the instant I held my first-born daughter in my arms that I was now in the role of a protector -- an incredible responsibility. Overprotective? Maybe. Willing to tone it down? Not a chance, and that’s what my book is about one big daddy to another.”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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