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The Sopranos (TV Series 1999–2007) Poster

(1999–2007)

Trivia

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After the pilot aired, a real-life "wise guy" told James Gandolfini never to wear shorts again. The encounter seems to have been incorporated into the first episode of season four, The Sopranos: For All Debts Public and Private (2002), when New York mob boss Carmine tells Tony that he'd heard about his recent backyard party, and that "a don doesn't wear shorts".
James Gandolfini said that he was often contacted by real-life "wise guys" complimenting him on the authenticity of the series as well as giving him advice.
Four members of northern New Jersey's only real-life mob family, the DeCavalcantes, were secretly taped in 1999 by federal investigators talking about their similarity to the fictional DiMeo/Soprano crime family. On the tape, one mobster asks another, "Is this supposed to be us?" And his capo buddy replies, "You are in there. They mentioned your name in there".
David Chase had planned a major story line for the third season concerning Tony's efforts to prevent Livia from testifying against him in court. However, Nancy Marchand's death caused Chase to revise a large portion of the season.
Tony Sirico only agreed to sign on for the show if it was guaranteed that his character Paulie "Walnuts" Gualtieri would not be a "rat", an informant. As Sirico explained in James Toback's documentary The Big Bang (1989), he had served time in prison for robbery. Altogether, Sirico's rap sheet included at least 28 arrests. Reportedly, he also appeared briefly in an uncredited role in The Godfather: Part II (1974).
Before David Chase chose "Woke Up This Morning" by UK band Alabama 3 (from their 1997 debut album "Exile on Coldharbour Lane"), he wanted to open every episode with a different song. HBO executives convinced him that viewers needed to be able to identify the show with a theme song. However, every "Sopranos" episode ends with a different song.
Drea de Matteo had to spend four hours in hair and makeup before shooting each episode in order to achieve her "mob girl" look. It took two hours to prepare her hair, and in the instances in which her arms, legs, and/or torso were uncovered, an hour and a half to apply makeup to cover her tattoos.
Michael Rispoli originally auditioned for the role of Tony. David Chase liked Rispoli's audition so much that he adjusted the role of Jackie Aprile Sr., originally a much older character, to fit Rispoli's age.
Corrado Soprano's nickname, Junior, was taken from the actual nickname used by Tony Sirico when he was a mobster as a young man, before he became an actor.
David Chase was a longtime fan of Steven Van Zandt's music and had always wanted to write a role for him. When Chase saw Van Zandt induct The Rascals into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he invited him to audition for Tony Soprano, even though he had never acted before. Van Zandt did not want to take a role away from a real actor, so Chase wrote the role of Silvio Dante for him. The Rascals' performance footage ended up being featured in 1999's seventh episode, The Sopranos: Down Neck (1999).
Many local New Jersey businesses are used as locations in the series. In the opening credits, we see a shot of a pizza shack known as Pizza Land. They get calls for pizza orders from all over the country as a result. In one episode, an actual sporting goods store, Ramsey Outdoor in Paramus, was portrayed as going out of business. So many people thought the real store was closing that the owners had to place ads explaining that they were still open.
David Chase had one rule for the scenes at Dr. Melfi's office: no camera movements.
James Gandolfini is the only cast member to appear in every episode.
To settle salary disputes after Season Four, James Gandolfini gave each cast member $33,333 from his own pocket.
The character "A.J. Soprano" was ranked #10 in TV Guide's list of "TV's 10 Biggest Brats" (27 March 2005 issue).
Ray Liotta was the top choice to play Tony Soprano but he turned it down, stating he did not want to commit to a television series. Later Liotta was in talks to play Ralph Cifaretto but turned that down as well.
In the Second Season the word "fuck" is said 715 times. Tony (264), Sil (34), Paulie (31), Christopher (68), Carmela (9), Others (309).
The large mugshot on the wall of the Bada Bing's office is of 23-year-old Frank Sinatra. In 1938 Sinatra was arrested and charged with "seduction of a married woman".
When Jamie-Lynn Sigler was first called in to audition for Meadow Soprano, she knew nothing about the premise of the show. From the title, she thought it might be about opera singers.
HBO was worried that the title of the series would make the audience think it was about music. That is why the gun image is in the title logo. The network also considered other titles for the show, such as "Made in New Jersey".
Lorraine Bracco was originally asked to play the role of Carmela Soprano, but she felt that the part was too similar to her character in Goodfellas (1990). She decided the role of Dr. Melfi would be more challenging.
The only cast members with no Italian heritage are Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Robert Iler, David Proval, Nancy Marchand, and Jerry Adler.
Drea de Matteo's unnamed "hostess" character appears in the pilot, in a quick restaurant scene. In the very next episode of the series she appears as Adriana La Cerva, Chris Moltisanti's girlfriend. Later she is Artie Bucco's hostess.
During Seasons 2 and 3, Steve Schirripa had to wear a fat suit in order to play Bobby Bacala.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler was credited as Jamie-Lyn DiScala in Season 5 after she married her manager A.J. Discala. She quickly resumed her maiden name in Season 6, after her divorce.
No one directed more The Sopranos (1999) episodes than Tim Van Patten--20 of the 86 shows, for which he received four EMMY nominations. He also shared a Writers Guild award for his story idea for Season #3's famous The Sopranos: Pine Barrens (2001)--which, oddly enough, he did not direct.
"Oogatz", as it is used in the show, means zero, nothing. It derives from the Italian slang "un cazzo" meaning "a dick". Similarly, Tony's boat is called "The Stugots', which also derives from the phrase "questo cazzo" meaning "this dick".
Voted #5 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
There was no improvisation on set. The scripts were followed verbatim, and any possible change was discussed with David Chase first.
Michael Imperioli is the only major cast member whose credits also include writing or co-writing for the series, having worked on five episodes. Appearing in a recurring role, Toni Kalem, as Angie Bompensiero, also wrote one script and served as story editor on five episodes.
The first cable-television series to win the Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Series.
As of 2007 the show's staff had accumulated 6 Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, a record. Every season but the second received Emmys for the writing.
Joseph R. Gannascoli was originally cast in a Season One cameo as Gino, a customer in the the bakery where Christopher shoots a teenage counter boy in the foot. He was then recast as Vito Spatafore in Season Two, and continued in that role until the end of Season Six, part I.
Steven Van Zandt 's Silvio Dante character is based on a character of the same name in a short story Van Zandt wrote and showed to series creator David Chase.
Tony refers to Christopher as his "nephew" throughout the series. However, Christopher is Carmela's cousin, so he and Tony are actually cousins by marriage.
In Season 4, Christopher said Tony was going to die of a heart attack by age 50 due to his weight. In real life, James Gandolfini actually died of a heart attack at age 51 in Rome, Italy.
Max Casella, who plays Benny Fazio, originally auditioned for the parts of Matt Bevilaqua and Jackie Aprile Jr. Both characters only lasted one season, but Benny remained until the final episode.
Originally, creator David Chase was going to call the key character Tommy Soprano. He later changed it to Tony.
The concept of family is an essential ingredient of this series about La Cosa Nostra ("Our Thing"), a fact also reflected in the show's production. Besides the LuPone and LaPaglia connections mentioned above, David Chase cast his daughter Michele DeCesare in six episodes as Meadow's friend, Hunter. Even more familial is the casting of real-life husband-and-wife Steven Van Zandt and Maureen Van Zandt as Silvio and Gabriella Dante. As well, on the series' production team, longtime writer/producers Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess are a married couple. In addition, co-star Lorraine Bracco's sister Elizabeth Bracco appears as Marie Spatafore in eight episodes. Dominic Chianese Jr., son of the actor portraying Uncle Junior, appears in three final-season shows as a soldier in the Lupertazzi crime family. Then there's Michael Buscemi, brother of the noted director and cast member Steve Buscemi, who shows up early on in the series' fourth episode. Finally, Joyce Van Patten, half-sister of The Sopranos (1999) veteran director Timothy Van Patten, appears in one episode in Season 4 while his daughter, Grace Van Patten, appears twice in the final season.
The "Bada Bing" strip club is actually a go-go bar in Lodi, NJ, called Satin Dolls. It used to be a nightclub called Tara's. Before that it was the diner Hearth 17.
David Chase claims the relationship between Tony and his mother Livia is based on his relationship with his own mother, Norma. Livia is also the name of the Roman emperor Augustus' conniving, murderous wife, especially as portrayed in I, Claudius (1976).
Five of the regular cast members appeared in Goodfellas (1990): Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico, Vincent Pastore, and Frank Vincent. Ten recurring cast members also appeared in the film: Nicole Burdette, Tony Darrow, Tony Lip, Frank Pellegrino, John 'Cha Cha' Ciarcia, Suzanne Shepherd, Paul Herman, Marianne Leone, Daniel P. Conte, and Frank Albanese. Eleven one-time guest stars also appeared in the film: Nancy Cassaro, Anthony Caso (as Martin Scorsese), Chuck Low, Tobin Bell, Gene Canfield, Gaetano LoGiudice, Vito Antuofermo, Frank Adonis, Anthony Alessandro, Victor Colicchio and Angela Pietropinto (Supposedly, Joseph R. Gannascoli was an extra in the film but this has not been verified). In contrast, Dominic Chianese is the only major "Sopranos" cast member who also appeared in one of the "Godfather" movies, as Johnny Ola in The Godfather: Part II (1974) ('Tony Sirico' claims to have been an extra in that film but this has not been verified).
In Season 5 a story about Feech La Manna was told, concerning his killing of a New Jersey longshoreman for refusing to give up his favorite seat in a bar. This story was based on a true-life incident involving former Philadelphia/Atlantic City crime boss Nicodemo Scarfo (aka "Little Nicky").
When Steven Van Zandt landed the role of Silvio, his character's suits were made by real-life underworld figure John Gotti's tailor. Gotti was serving a life sentence at the time. Van Zandt knew early on that he was about to become part of a TV series determined to reflect realism in mob life when he noticed the character Johnny Ola (Dominic Chianese from The Godfather: Part II (1974)) sitting opposite him in rehearsals.
Ranked #3 on Empire magazine's 50 Greatest TV Shows Of All Time (2008).
Six cast members, in both major or recurring roles, in The Sopranos (1999) also appeared in the mob comedy Mickey Blue Eyes (1999). During an episode in Season Two--in an insider's type of gentle tweak--a movie-exec character dismisses "Mickey" as a box-office bomb.
Tony Sirico and Frank Vincent auditioned for the role of Uncle Junior. Sirico was offered the role of Paulie instead. Vincent joined the cast as Phil in the fifth season.
The Sopranos live at 633 Stag Trail Road, North Caldwell, NJ. The house used in exterior shots is actually located at 14 Aspen Drive in North Caldwell.
In January 2000 the Coalition of Italian-American Associations issued a joint statement condemning the show for perpetuating negative Italian-American stereotypes.
Among the celebrities who have appeared as themselves in various episodes are Sandra Bernhard, Janeane Garofalo, David Lee Roth, Frank Sinatra Jr., Nancy Sinatra and Lawrence Taylor. Annette Bening is featured in Episode 11, Season 5. Both Ben Kingsley and Lauren Bacall appear in Episode 7, Season 6, as does, very briefly, Wilmer Valderrama. In Episode 14, Season 6, Danny Baldwin, Jonathan LaPaglia, Geraldo Rivera and Ben Kingsley all appear as themselves.
David Chase wanted Steve Buscemi to direct on the show because he was a big fan of Buscemi's 1996 film Trees Lounge (1996).
The cast was #9 on the annual Forbes magazine Celebrity 100 list in 2006.
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The fictional DiMeo family, which was said to have run North Jersey earlier in the series, is a name that may have been a nod to series prop master Anthony Dimeo, who worked on almost half the series' episodes. Even more of a nod was given to another behind-the-scenes guy, assistant prop master Joseph Badalucco Jr., who did double duty on the show as an actor, playing capo Jimmy Altieri in eight episodes.
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The increasingly long gap between seasons 3, 4, 5 and 6 was due to the fact that David Chase requested more time to prep their production, a suggestion made to him by friend Steven Van Zandt during the Season 3 wrap party.
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In a recent interview, David Chase has stated that some of his favorite characters include Christopher and Junior mainly due to their self-pity and selfishness.
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The opening credits of the first three seasons are notable for one significant difference from the rest of the seasons' sequences: there is a shot in which the World Trade Center is visible in Tony Soprano's rear-view mirror which was, for obvious reasons, removed after 9/11.
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The series started as a movie pitch. David Chase initially wanted his creation to be a film, and the original scripts that he wrote were for a feature-length production about a mobster who went to visit a psychiatrist. These themes were eventually carried over into the show, of course, mainly because Chase's manager believed that the characters were so well-written that they deserved the extensive time that they would be granted in a television serial.
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Asked what he thought of the series, Martin Scorsese admitted that he watched a few episodes but couldn't get into the show, claiming that it was a different generation's gangster culture than what he remembered.
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Dr. Melfi was named after David Chase's grandmother, Teresa Melfi.
Steve Schirripa, who plays Bobby Bacala, originally auditioned for the role of FBI agent Skip Lipari.
Whenever an actor would go to David Chase to complain about his/her character, arguing the character would never do this or that thing, it has been reported multiple times that Chase would respond: 'Who told you it is your character?'
Anthony and Paulie have near identical Tiger tattoos on their upper arms.
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The writers carefully researched the ways in which mobsters controlled and laundered their money in order to make Tony Soprano as realistic as possible, and they employed New York assistant district attorney Dan Castleman to advise them on this issue. When Castleman was asked how much they had decided Tony would realistically be worth, he stated that it was roughly 5 or 6 million dollars - an amount that fluctuated, of course, because of Tony's substantial gambling problem.
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During several episodes a high-pitched squealing sound can be heard in some outdoor scenes. That is the sound of the elevated #7 train going around a turn one block from the studio where the indoor and some outdoor scenes are filmed in Queens, New York.
At least three prominent American film directors played characters in the series: Peter Bogdanovich as psychologist Dr. Elliot Kupferberg in the only major recurring role, but Paul Mazursky and Sydney Pollack also appeared in a total of three episodes. Among actor/directors, Steve Buscemi was not only a prominent cast member, featured in 13 episodes, but he also directed four other shows. Jon Favreau appears playing himself in Season 2, Episode 7. However, Martin Scorsese--referred to in some episodes by Sopranos characters familiar with his work simply as "Marty"--is played by a lookalike in the series' second episode when the director is supposed to have been spotted entering a club.
In the Third Season the word "fuck" is said 604 times. Tony (169), Sil (19), Paulie (81), Christopher (72), Carmela (3), Others (260).
In the Sixth Season, Part 1 the word "fuck" is said 452 times. Tony (125), Sil (13), Paulie (48), Christopher (65), Carmela (8), Others (193).
In the Fifth Season the word "fuck" is said 600 times. Tony (195), Sil (8), Paulie (20), Christopher (94), Carmela (12), Others (271).
Grace Johnston was first choice for the role of Meadow, but she turned it down to finish school.
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The first cable series to win a Golden Globe for Best Television Series - Drama.
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Steven Van Zandt and David Proval originally auditioned for the role of Tony Soprano.
Tony, A.J. and Junior all have the middle name John. Sylvio's middle name is Manfred.
In the First Season the word "fuck" is said 437 times. Tony (134), Sil (20), Paulie (25), Christopher (61), Carmela (5), Others (192).
In Season 5, the race track they go to is actually Riverhead Raceway in Riverhead, Long Island, NY. In the episode it was sold, but in real life it wasn't. So many people called the track wanting to know if it had been sold that the owners had to put a sign up saying that they hadn't sold.
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Christian Maelen was David Chase's second choice to play Christopher Moltisanti. He later provided the voice of Big Pussy's son, Joey LaRocca, in The Sopranos: Road to Respect (2006).
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The "Green Grove" retirement community is based on, and filmed at, the Green Hill retirement community in West Orange, NJ.
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David Chase's inspiration for the character Dr. Melfi came from his own psychiatrist at the time, Dr. Lorraine Kaufman, and eventually contributed to the psychological development of some of the characters.
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In the Fourth Season the word "fuck" is said 425 times. Tony (155), Sil (12), Paulie (18), Christopher (48), Carmela (10), Others (182).
According to Matthew Weiner, David Chase fired Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, but let them say that they had chosen to leave the show.
Nancy Marchand, who played Tony's mother Livia Soprano, was born on June 19, 1928, and died one day before her 72nd birthday on June 18, 2000. James Gandolfini, who played her son Tony Soprano, died on Marchand's 85th birthday on June 19, 2013.
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Patti LuPone auditioned for the role of Janice Soprano. While she never appeared in the series, her real-life older brother, Robert LuPone, appeared in five episodes as the Sopranos' neighbor and family physician, Dr. Bruce Cusamano.
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Dan Castleman, who spent 30 years in the Manhattan District Attorney's office, as chief of the Rackets Bureau and then of Investigations, acted as a prosecutor in nine episodes and as a technical consultant in ten. Reportedly, in his career, when he was not endorsed by his boss to succeed him as Manhattan's next D.A., he left to become a private security consultant.
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Voted by The Writer's Guild Of America as #1 in their 101 Best Written TV Series of all time list.
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Although Lorraine Bracco received second billing in the opening credits, she appeared in fewer episodes than Edie Falco, who received third billing.
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Paulie's first name is Peter. Paul is his middle name.
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Three women contributed to the writing of the series: writer/producer Robin Green wrote or co-wrote 22 of the 86 episodes; Diane Frolov is credited with four, and cast member Toni Kalem wrote one episode and was the story editor on five others.
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#1 in TV Guide's Top 60 Greatest TV series of all time (2013). Moving up from #5 in their Top 50 list (2002), despite the show having only aired for three seasons at the time.
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Only one of the 86 "Sopranos" episodes in the eight years of the series was directed by a woman, Lorraine Senna (See: Season 1, Episode 7 "Down Neck").
The character of Hesh, the Jewish gangster (played by Jerry Adler) who is a trusted associate of Tony Soprano, is said to have been based on Morris Levy, the founder of Roulette Records and onetime owner of the famous "Birdland" nightclub in New York City. Levy had long had a reputation as being a close associate of several high-ranking New York Mafia figures and had no compunction about using his ties with them to keep recalcitrant and/or ambitious Roulette artists in line or to steal artists from other labels. One story has it that when singer Jackie Wilson, at the time under contract to Roulette, tried to break his contract in order to take a more lucrative one offered him by Brunswick Records, Levy knocked him unconscious; when Wilson regained consciousness, Levy dragged him to the window of his tenth-floor office and hung him out of the window by his heels until he agreed to pay Levy several times more than his contract was worth in order to gain his release (and to also not be dropped ten stories to his death).
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Struggling screenwriter Christopher Moltisanti is portrayed by screenwriter Michael Imperioli.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Body Count: 92.
Drea de Matteo was completely unaware that her character (Adriana) would be killed off and written out of the series until she read the script before the episode shoot. Though she left the show prematurely, her performance for her final season earned her an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Character J.T. Dolan (Tim Daly) is beaten up by Chris Moltisanti in every episode he appears in, until Moltisanti finally kills him in Season 6.
David Chase once admitted that though it worked dramatically, he considered the story line of Tony and Carmela's separation not believable, because mobsters wives don't get divorced.
Joe Pantoliano was told when he first took the role of Ralph that the character would only last two seasons.
According to Terence Winter, Steve Buscemi had signed up for two seasons, but David Chase felt eventually that his story needed to be told only in one.
In an interview, David Chase revealed that if he hadn't gotten the show's pilot episode greenlighted, he was determined to shoot another hour of material and release it as a film, ending with the scene where Tony panics trying to kill his mother with a pillow.
The show was originally going to be a cable series on FOX starring Anthony LaPaglia before HBO picked it up.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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