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"The Sopranos" Pilot (TV Episode 1999) Poster

(TV Series)

(1999)

Trivia

The role of Uncle Junior, played by Dominic Chianese, almost went to Robert Loggia who had been seriously considered for it. Loggia would appear later in four episodes of the series as Michele "Feech" La Manna. Chianese is also the show's only cast member who had played a featured role in The Godfather: Part II (1974), as Johnny Ola.
James Gandolfini's voice is distinctly different in this first episode than it would be in future ones. After this episode, Gandolfini used a dialect coach to sound more like a mobster from Newark, New Jersey.
This pilot was filmed in 1997. The show was picked up for series a year later.
In this episode, the pork store used as the mob's hangout is named Centanni's Meat Market, an actual butcher shop in Elizabeth, New Jersey. But producers soon after found an abandoned location in Kearny, NJ, converted it into the fictional Satriale's Pork Store, and used that site throughout the rest of the series. But mistakenly--or indifferently--a quick image of Satriale's, not Centanni's, is included in this pilot's opening montage, as it also would be for the next eight years of the "Sopranos".
In the pilot episode, Father Phil is portrayed by Michael Santoro, but in all future episodes he is portrayed by Paul Schulze.
Tony is referred to here as "the boss" as well as "the Don of New Jersey". Yet in the next episode, new character Jackie Aprile is the (acting) boss and Tony is only one of many crew captains, or a capo, though he is considered the heir apparent.
As the show's creator and executive producer David Chase is also given a writer's credit for every one of the "Sopranos"'s 86 episodes. Chase also directed two of these episodes: this original pilot and the the highly controversial series finale over eight years later.
Tony's complaint to Dr. Melfi about the loss of the Gary Cooper "strong silent type" in American culture becomes an oft-repeated regret in the series.
While Tony and Livia are visiting the nursing home, a group of elderly people is shown watching The Rockford Files (1974) on TV. Creator David Chase got his big break in television as a writer and producer on that show.
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This episode is titled "The Sopranos" on the DVD release and the show's official site. But it was titled "Pilot" when originally aired and is still titled as such in reruns.
The main reason James Gandolfini was cast instead of Michael Rispoli for the role of Tony Soprano is that David Chase felt that, while both actors were likable and could make that work for Tony, Michael was a much more light-hearted person than James and the elements of self-darkness would be a better fusion into the character of Tony.
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In the pilot episode, Irina Peltsin is portrayed by Siberia Federico, but in all future episodes she is portrayed by Oksana Babiy.
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Michele DeCesare, who plays Meadow's friend Hunter, is Sopranos creator David Chase's daughter.
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In the pilot, Tony Soprano's Jersey accent is much less pronounced than in his "final" character. He speaks more softly and in general seems to be a little more "gentle".
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