He may find it hard to express genuine emotion, but TONY SOPRANO is never short of a cutting jibe or nine.

‘She’s dead to me’ expressing true feelings for his living mum

‘What you gonna do?’ expressing raw grief for his dead mum

‘l’m the motherfuckin’ fuckin’ one who calls the shots’ setting a capo straight

‘Even if God is dead, you’re still going to kiss his ass’

reacting to son AJ's newfound existential/5m

‘Cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this’ pinpointing the twin towers of his tr0ubles with Uncle Junior

‘When you’re married, you’ll understand the importance of

fresh produce’

dishing out sound pre- nuptial advice to nephew Christopher

‘How do you vandalise a swimming pool?’ querying AJ's destructive tendencies

‘I think it’s time you seriously considered salads’ advising an overweight colleague

‘Why don’t you get the tuck outta here before I shove your quotations book up your fat tuckin’ ass’ rejecting literary bon mots from a rival

16 THE LIST 1 ~17") N0: 2001

‘This isn’t a politically correct show; this is a show

What do you expect?’

politically correct show yet.‘ says Chase. ‘And we don’t intend to start now. This is a show about mobsters. What do you expect'?‘

There is some comfort. too. for the feminists. Despite the pneumatic topless blondes that wrap themselves around the dancing poles at the Bada Bing (the mobsters‘ local) the main female characters in the show are. as Gandolfini says. ‘an absolute force of nature’. 'There are no weak women in the show.‘ he says. ‘Everyone from Tony‘s shrink. to his wife. daughter and sister are strong.‘

Strongest of the lot. of course. is Tony‘s mother Livia. played by veteran actress Nancy Marchand. In series one she plotted to have her son ‘whacked’ by Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese). But in the last series her role was downplayed as Marchand was suffering from cancer. She died before the third series started rolling. but the studio boffins succeeded in superimposing her head onto someone else’s shoulders to speak some of her old lines in a final. brittle exchange with her son. ‘Who could ignore Nancy‘s contribution to this show'?‘ Lorraine Bracco asks. ‘I thought her part as Tony’s mother was the most brilliant women’s role I’ve seen in a long. long time.‘

Clearly. the series creator David Chase himself is awed by the power of women and of mothers in particular. And it shows. ‘Nonnally. you see Mafia mothers crying or stirring the pasta sauce or getting slapped around. But this is not true for either

Livia or Tony‘s wife Carmela.’ he says. ‘That is not my vision of

wives and mothers.‘ In fact. the entire genesis of The Sopranos lies in Chase‘s memories of his own mother. ‘She was a singular character . . . an interesting woman.‘ he smiles. ‘I wouldn’t say she was as bad as Livia. Definitely not. But she had a kind of sour outlook. She was ruled by paranoia and I borrowed all of that for Livia.‘

Chase used to tell his friends and his wife about the things his mother did and said. And they always said you should write about her. But he thought nobody would be interested in a TV producer and his mother. In his 30s. Chase. who is now 55. inevitably went into therapy. ‘I found it really helpful. really boring. really silly. All the things that it is. And after years of this I began

about to think it might be interesting mObsters or funny to have a family guy.

who's also a mobster. go into therapy about his mother problems and then go out into the street and get involved in gun battles. The fusion of all those things was behind the creation of The .S‘oprcmos.~

The show continues to evolve from that original concept. At the end of the last series. some unanswered questions were left hanging in the air. Would Tony forgive himself for ‘whacking‘ best friend turned FBI informant Big Pussy? Would wife Carmela (played by Edie Falco) survive her marital crisis‘.’ And would Soprano‘s two teenage children cope with their dawning awareness of how exactly their father put the pasta on the table?

And in the new series. fresh characters are introduced. Joe Pantoliano plays a murderous. Mafia sociopath Ralphie Cifaretto; Fairuza Balk is Deborah Cicerone. an undercover FBI agent who penetrates the inner sanctum; Annabella Sciorra portrays a glamorous yet highly unstable car saleswoman. Gloria. In the meantime. Carmela enters therapy herself. and Meadow. Tony‘s daughter (played by Jamie Lynn Sigler) takes a mixed race boyfriend in her first term at Columbia. Tony‘s panic attacks continue (partly on account of her siblings choice of men) and Anthony Junior (played by Robert ller) develops fainting spells himself and gets into big trouble at school. ‘He’s got that putrid. rotten Soprano gene.~ Tony tells Dr Melli. And in a life-imitating-art twist. ller was recently arrested after a gang rumpus in the park. An imininentjail sentence hasn‘t been ruled out.

‘At the end of the day. this is an outlaw show about outlaws.‘ Chase says. ‘lt‘s on the margins and if it doesn‘t get awards from the establishtnent it‘s probably just as well.‘ He is referring to the show's bmtal beating at the hands of the softer

‘Looking the way I do,‘ says James Gandolfini, ‘l‘m normally offered parts for someone called Vinnie The Nose‘

Choz Soprano everything is lmgrnnt with the smell ol laundered


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