`Sopranos' Return Creates Mob Scene

By Harper, Jennifer | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 28, 2001 | Go to article overview

`Sopranos' Return Creates Mob Scene


Harper, Jennifer, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


On a tide of ziti with red sauce, the third season of HBO's "The Sopranos" begins Sunday - a clarion call to would-be goombahs who relish the gutsy pathos, the quirks, the very New Jerseyism of it all.

Fans will celebrate with Soprano-theme parties and on-line chats. They will wear official "Mafia-style" bowling shirts and visit old film locations of the show, which has won a whole Cadillac full of Emmys and Golden Globes.

Not everyone is a fan, however.

For the third year in a row, the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is fed up with the show's portrayal of "Italian Americans as an undereducated people who are either criminals or in blue-collar jobs," said chairman Frank Guarini, a former New Jersey congressman.

"The characters bear no resemblance to the average Italian American, who is a law-abiding citizen working in a white-collar position," he added.

"Sopranos" creators have gone to great pains to ensure the visceral quality of the show, shot throughout northern New Jersey and teeming with local extras. Last spring, 14,000 hopefuls showed up for an open casting call, which called for "Italian looking" people. Fearing a riot, police shut it down.

This year, the NIAF has gone to statistics to support its case.

Among other things, the foundation found that Italian Americans made up only 5 percent of the fugitives on the FBI's Most Wanted List in the last 50 years. "No Italian Americans are currently on the list," Mr. Guarini said.

The group also found that two-thirds of Italian Americans are employed in "white-collar positions," according to Census Bureau classifications. …

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