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''Pirates'' premieres early

TNT’s movie starring Anthony Michael Hall and Noah Wyle was broadcast early to make the Emmy consideration cut-off

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If a high-profile TV movie airs, and no one’s around to see it, does it make a sound? Mangled Zen koans aside, that’s essentially what happened with TNT’s Pirates of Silicon Valley. The cable flick, starring Anthony Michael Hall and Noah Wyle as, respectively, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, is set to debut June 20. But insomniacs might have noticed an unpublicized Pirates airing in the wee hours of May 23. Why the sneak peek? A TNT spokesman says the movie was unspooled to make the May 31 deadline for Emmy consideration and was aired at 1:30 a.m. so it wouldn’t detract from the official premiere’s ratings. (Still, Nielsen reports about 892,000 people caught part of the late-night showing.) While unusual, the night-owl practice isn’t new: Showtime did it in 1998 for Lolita. ”We only do it for films we believe really stand a shot at being nominated,” says the TNT rep. ”You notice we didn’t do it with CHiPs ’99.”