It’s been 20 years since “The Sopranos” debuted on TV, and wow, what a game changer it was.
This is a series that irrevocably altered the landscape of the medium. The iconic HBO show should be credited with ushering in the idea of “prestige television.” Premiering on January 10, 1999, the multiple Emmy, Peabody, and Golden Globe winner–hailed by many critics as “the greatest television series of all time”–was the very first cable show to win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. Cool.
In honor of the milestone anniversary, the cast reunited at the SVA Theater on Wednesday to reminisce about the show and its star, James Gandolfini. Here’s a clip from the Today show link.
Airing for six seasons and 86 episodes, “The Sopranos” spawned the careers of many, including our own Edie Falco–who just revealed ““There are many, many episodes I haven’t seen.” Huh. Whaddya know.
Of course there’s the East End’s other “Sopranos” leading lady, Lorraine Bracco–who was first offered the part of Carmela (whew for Falco!) but asked to play Tony’s therapist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi, instead. People with good memories can’t fuggedaboutit that she was one of the only known actors, having previously been nominated for an Academy Award for her work in “Goodfellas.”
Interestingly, there are a whopping 28 “Sopranos” cast members who also appeared in the Martin Scorsese film. According to IMDb, six regular cast members are in both–Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico, Vincent Pastore, Frank Vincent, and Joseph R. Gannascoli–plus 10 recurring characters and 11 one-time guest stars.
And we can’t forget Steve Schirripa, pictured here in a photo that I took at the Hamptons International Film Festival a few years ago. Did you know that he had to wear a fat suit for the first two seasons of the show? Yep. True fact. He didn’t have to in season three or beyond. “I guess they thought I got fat enough on my own and I didn’t wear it anymore” the actor has been quoted as saying. : )
Here’s a fun fact: Several well-known actors have appeared on the show, including: Lauren Bacall, Daniel Baldwin, Annette Bening, Polly Bergen, Sandra Bernhard, Charles S. Dutton, Jon Favreau, Janeane Garofalo, Hal Holbrook, Tim Kang, Elias Koteas, Ben Kingsley, Linda Lavin, Ken Leung, Julianna Margulies, Sydney Pollack, Wilmer Valderrama, Alicia Witt and Burt Young.
Another fun fact: The series was so close to the actual reality of this type of existence that it’s been reported that FBI agents told creator David Chase and the creative team that their wire taps were full of talk about the show and its uncanny portrayal of mob life. Vanity Fair once reported that Terence Winter said, “We would hear back that real wiseguys used to think that we had somebody on the inside. They couldn’t believe how accurate the show was.”
Want to watch the series all over again. HBO has made it possible.