The Sopranos (TV Series 1999–2007) Poster



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After the pilot had aired, James Gandolfini was told by a real-life "wise guy" never to wear shorts again. This encounter seems to have been incorporated later in the first episode of Season Four ("For All Debts Public and Private") when New York mob boss Carmine indicates to Tony that he'd heard about his recent backyard party, and that "a don doesn't wear shorts".
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 NJ 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 one rule for the scenes at Dr. Melfi's office: no camera movements.
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.
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. That might be because in real life, 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, Sirico also appeared briefly in an uncredited role in The Godfather: Part II (1974).
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.
"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".
When Jamie-Lynn Sigler was first called in to audition for the Meadow Soprano role, she knew nothing about the premise of the show and thought it might be about opera singers (based on the title).
Michael Rispoli originally auditioned for the role of Tony, but 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.
During Seasons 2 and 3, Steve Schirripa had to wear a fat suit in order to play Bobby Bacala.
Before David Chase chose "Woke Up This Morning" by UK band Alabama 3 (from their 1997 debut album "Exile on Coldharbour Lane"), he originally wanted to use a different song in every episode's opening sequence. HBO executives convinced him that viewers needed to be able to identify the show with a theme song. However, every "Sopranos" episode does end with a different tune.
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. But Nancy Marchand's death caused Chase to revise a large portion of the season.
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 it down as well.
The large mugshot on the wall of the Bada Bing's office is of a 23-year-old Frank Sinatra. In 1938, Sinatra had been arrested and charged with 'seduction of a married woman'.
Six of the regular cast members appeared in 1990's Goodfellas (1990): Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico, Vincent Pastore, Frank Vincent, and Joseph R. Gannascoli. 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. 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).
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, Ramesey Outdoor in Paramus, was portrayed as going out of business. So many people thought the real store was closing, the store owners had to place ads to explain they were still open.
Six cast members, in both major or recurring roles, in The Sopranos (1999) also appeared in the 1994 mob comedy Mickey Blue Eyes (1999). And 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.
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 Young Rascals' into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he invited Van Zandt 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. And The Rascals performance footage ended up being featured in 1999's seventh episode, "Down Neck" .
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".
The only cast members who are not of any Italian descent are Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Robert Iler, David Proval, Nancy Marchand and Jerry Adler.
In the Second Season the word "fuck" is said 715 times. Tony (264), Sil (34), Paulie (31), Christopher (68), Carmela (9), Others (309).
Michael Imperioli is the only major 'Sopranos' cast member whose credits also include writing or co-writing for the series, having worked on five episodes. Appearing in a recurring role, actress Toni Kalem, as Angie Bompensiero, also wrote one script and served as story editor on five episodes.
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 Sopranos live at 633 Stag Trail Road, North Caldwell, New Jersey. The house used in exterior shots is actually located at 14 Aspen Drive in North Caldwell.
Joe Pantoliano was told when he first took the role of Ralph that the character would only last two seasons.
In January 2000 the Coalition of Italian-American Associations issued a joint statement condemning the show for perpetuating negative Italian-American stereotypes.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler was credited as 'Jamie-Lyn DiScala' in Season 5 due to her marriage to her manager A.J. Discala, but she quickly resumed her maiden name in Season 6 after her divorce.
As of 2007, the show's staff had accumulated the most Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series--six.
The concept of family is an essential ingredient of this series about La Cosa Nostra ("This Thing of Ours"), 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 & 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, young Grace Van Patten, appears twice in the final season.
David Chase claims the relationship in the story between Tony and his mother Livia is based on his relationship with his own mother, whose name was Norma. The name Livia is also immediately reminiscent of the Roman emperor Augustus's conniving, murderous wife, especially as portrayed in I, Claudius (1976).
Voted #5 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
Drea de Matteo's unnamed 'hostess' character appears in the pilot episode in a quick restaurant scene. But in the very next, second episode of the series, she has been 'promoted' and appears as Adriana La Cerva, Chris Moltisanti's girl friend, and later as Artie Bucco's hostess.
No one directed more "Sopranos" episodes than former actor Timothy Van Patten, half-brother of veterans Dick Van Patten and Joyce Van Patten. He helmed 20 of the 86 shows, for which he received four EMMY nominations. He also shared a Writers Guild award for Season #3's famous "Pine Barrens" episode, which--strangely enough--he did not direct.
Tony refers to Christopher as his "nephew" throughout the series. But Christopher is Carmela's cousin so he and Tony are actually cousins by marriage.
Steven Van Zandt 's Silvio Dante character is based on one of the same name in a short story that Van Zandt wrote and showed to series creator David Chase.
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.
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.
Ranked #3 on Empire magazine's 50 Greatest TV Shows Of All Time (2008).
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.
Originally, creator David Chase was going to call the key character Tommy Soprano. He later changed it to Tony.
The first cable-television series to win the Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Series.
Steven Van Zandt and David Proval originally auditioned for the role of Tony Soprano.
The show was originally going to be a cable series on FOX starring Anthony LaPaglia before HBO picked it up. Coincidentally, LaPaglia's actor brother Jonathan LaPaglia much later would play the "Cleaver" horror-movie character in Season 6, Episode 14.
Tony, A.J. and Junior all have the middle name John. Silvio's middle name is Manfred.
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. And in Episode 14, Season 6, Danny Baldwin, Jonathan LaPaglia and Geraldo Rivera all appear as themselves.
The fictional DiMeo family who were said to have run North Jersey earlier in the series, is a name that may have been a nod to "Sopranos" props master Anthony Dimeo who worked on almost half the shows's episodes. Even more of a nod was given to another behind-the-scenes guy, assistant props master Joseph Badalucco Jr. who did double duty on the show, as an actor, playing capo Jimmy Altieri in eight episodes.
According to Terence Winter, Steve Buscemi 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 get the pilot 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.
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. And Jon Favreau appears playing himself in Season 2, Episode 7. Yet, 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.
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.
Steve Schirripa, who plays Bobby Bacala originally auditioned for the role of F.B.I. agent Skip Lipari.
In Season 5 a story about Feech La Manna was told, concerning his killing 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 "Little Nicky" Scarfo.
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 City.
Grace Johnston was first choice for the role of Meadow but she turned it down to finish school.
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.
In Season 5, the race track they go to is actually Riverhead Raceway in Riverhead, Long Island. 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.
The cast was #9 on the annual Forbes magazine Celebrity 100 list in 2006.
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).
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.
In the Fifth Season the word "fuck" is said 600 times. Tony (195), Sil (8), Paulie (20), Christopher (94), Carmela (12), Others (271).
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).
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.
David Chase wanted Steve Buscemi to direct on the show because he was a big fan of Buscemi's 1996 film Trees Lounge (1996).
In the Third Season the word "fuck" is said 604 times. Tony (169), Sil (19), Paulie (81), Christopher (72), Carmela (3), Others (260).
Paulie's first name is Peter. Paul is his middle name.
Dr. Melfi was named after David Chase's grandmother, Teresa Melfi.
In the First Season the word "fuck" is said 437 times. Tony (134), Sil (20), Paulie (25), Christopher (61), Carmela (5), Others (192).
The "Green Grove" retirement community is based on, and filmed at, the Green Hill retirement community in West Orange, New Jersey.
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.
According to Matthew Weiner, David Chase fired Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess, but let them say that they have chosen to leave the show.
Struggling screenwriter Christopher Moltisanti is portrayed by screenwriter Michael Imperioli.
In the Fourth Season the word "fuck" is said 425 times. Tony (155), Sil (12), Paulie (18), Christopher (48), Carmela (10), Others (182).
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").
David Chase revealed in an interview that even though it worked dramatically, he considers the storyline of Tony and Carmela's separation not believable, because mobsters wives don't get divorced.
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The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

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.

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