Search

Browse

News collects all the stories you want to read

Brands x Business

Brands x Business

Brands x Business
Events

Events

Events
Family

Family

Family
Fashion x Beauty

Fashion x Beauty

Fashion x Beauty
Food x Drink

Food x Drink

Food x Drink
Giving Back

Giving Back

Giving Back
Health x Wellness

Health x Wellness

Health x Wellness
Hip People

Hip People

Hip People
HipTV

HipTV

HipTV
Home

Home

Home
The Hip List

The Hip List

The Hip List
Weddings

Weddings

Weddings

Editors

Maria Cucciniello Falzo Maria Cucciniello Falzo Maria Cucciniello Falzo
Lisa Marie Latino Lisa Marie Latino Lisa Marie Latino
Kristen Tinsdale Kristen Tinsdale Kristen Tinsdale
Maggie Mitchell Maggie Mitchell Maggie Mitchell

Contributors

Carissa Abraham Carissa Abraham Carissa Abraham
Vanessa Coppes Vanessa Coppes Vanessa Coppes
Maria Fernandez Maria Fernandez Maria Fernandez
Alex Lee Alex Lee Alex Lee
Nadia Murdock Nadia Murdock Nadia Murdock
Caitlin Rutkay Caitlin Rutkay Caitlin Rutkay
Suzanne LaVoie Sammon Suzanne LaVoie Sammon Suzanne LaVoie Sammon
Jessica Shirripa Jessica Shirripa Jessica Shirripa
The Sopranos at 20: Vincent Curatola Looks Back

The Sopranos at 20: Vincent Curatola Looks Back

By: Lisa Marie Latino

On January 10, 1999, Bill Clinton was President. A singer named Britney Spears was two days away from dropping her first pop single, …Baby One More Time. The Twin Towers in New York City stood tall, oblivious to the bull’s-eye set upon them. And a New Jersey gangster named Tony Soprano rambled down a North Caldwell driveway and into our homes, where he electrified—and terrified—us for six glorious seasons on HBO’s The Sopranos.

Twenty years ago, I wasn’t even allowed to watch The Sopranos. My parents tried their best to shield their high school freshman daughter from the sex, violence and overall debauchery of the show’s tragically flawed characters. But the buzz around these Italian-Americans from New Jersey was too seductive for me to ignore, and I found ways to sneak in viewings whenever possible.

Like many people around the world, I consider The Sopranos to be the best drama in the history of television. EVERYTHING about the production was top notch—the writing, acting, even the music selections. When James Gandolfini passed away in 2013, I cried as if it were a legitimate member of my family who had died. That’s how scary-good this ensemble was.

To commemorate The Sopranos‘ 20th anniversary, I spoke with Englewood born and current Upper Saddle River resident, actor Vincent Curatola (“John Sacrimoni”, otherwise known “Johnny Sack”), to get his thoughts on this major milestone.

LML: When the show first started, did you expect the legend of Johnny Sack to grow as it did?
VC: It was only supposed to be a one-time gig. My first episode was “Pax Soprana” [Episode 6, Season 1], where Tony commissioned Johnny to help him broker a crooked deal with Uncle Junior for Hesh. But once the series got picked up, they asked me back, and it took off from there.

LML: The backbone of the show was the brilliant writing of series creator David Chase. What was it like working with such high caliber material?
VC: You said it yourself, Lisa. The writing was tremendous, like a hot knife through butter. He painted such a vivid picture for us actors, so it was easy to deliver exactly what he wanted.

LML: Is there a specific episode, or moment, that stands out to you?
VC: There’s a scene where Tony and Johnny meet in Newark, and Tony backs out of the hit on New York boss Carmine Lupertazzi. [“Whitecaps”, Episode 13, Season 4]. It was very intense, for many reasons. I had eight pages of dialogue to work with, which is a huge amount for one scene. Jimmy and I filmed it on a very hot, August night in Newark, and that just added to the emotional burden of the conversation. Tony and Johnny always had a mutual respect—a friendship even—so I had to balance that with Johnny’s frustration and disappointment.

I really don’t watch the show, but since it’s been on for the anniversary, I’ve caught some episodes. Each scene carries a unique set of memories.

LML: Some of the most disturbing Johnny Sack moments for me were when he was dying from lung cancer. What kind of preparation goes into playing impending death so convincingly?
VC: I’m a member of the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees, and when the writer for the episode [Terence Winter, who later went on to create Boardwalk Empire] explained what he had in mind, I introduced him to the hospital’s oncology department. Together with Hackensack, Terence flushed out what Johnny’s symptoms would be, what medication he would be taking, and what his final stages of life would look like. Every aspect of the show was treated with the closest attention to detail, another reason that made it so special.

Also in that episode [“Stage 5”, Episode 14, Season 6], I had the honor of working with the late Sydney Pollack. That was an unforgettable experience.

LML: The Sopranos is anything but politically correct. Do you think the show would have survived had it debuted now, in our current pop culture climate?
VC: Certainly. David Chase is a very independent thinker, and I don’t think his ideas would have been swayed by the outrage mob. Back then, we had to deal with complaints from certain Italian-American groups accusing us of making Italians look like criminals. Guess what—there are criminals in every race, religion and nationality! Look at our government—the biggest crooks of all sit in some of the highest parts of office!

But David never backed down, as you saw during the Christopher Columbus episode [“Christopher”, Episode 3, Season 4]. He dug his heels even deeper.

Also, look at his new movie [the upcoming Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark]. I don’t know too much about it, but I know part of the focus will be the racial tension brought on by the Newark Riots. These are still subjects that are very sensitive to some today, but knowing the sharpness of David’s pencil, he will navigate through all of that just fine.

LML: How is your relationship with the cast today?
VC: We were close then, and we have remained close. I had met Jimmy Gandolfini 3-4 years prior to The Sopranos at a little club in New York City called Marylou’s, where a lot of actors would hang out. Being two guys from Jersey, we clicked. That’s where I also met Tony Sirico and Michael Imperioli years before the show. But we’re always around each other, whether it just be for dinner or for an appearance. And while it’s hard to not have Jimmy here, we know he’s with us in spirit.

A very famous celebrity, who was a big fan of the show, once told me that he considered The Sopranos to be The Beatles of television. Different genre obviously, but same similarity as far as changing the game. And we really did—together. That’s a bond that will never break.

LML: You’re talking to me while on set for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. How did The Sopranos help your career?
VC: It’s funny, I haven’t been typecast a mobster or anything like that. If anything, it’s gone the other way. I’ve played judges [on SVU and The Good Wife], cops [Blue Bloods] and even the Mayor of Boston in Patriot’s Day with Mark Wahlburg.

I also sing with a five piece jazz band, and we play lots of dates in New Jersey. That’s been a lot of fun. 

LML: I can’t end this interview without talking about The Ending. What do you think happened to Tony at the end of the series?
VC: I honestly think David just closed the door and didn’t let the audience see inside anymore. I don’t believe the family was murdered or anything like that.

The night of the finale, the cast was together doing an appearance. Five minutes before the show ended, they ushered us into a room so we could watch the ending. WE didn’t even know how it was going to end—even Jimmy!—so we were all very interested. When the scene cut to black, all of our cell phones were going off with people freaking out that their cable went out. But to me, it was typical David Chase.

Posted By

Lisa Marie Latino

Lisa Marie Falbo (Latino) is CEO and executive producer of Long Shot Productions, a full-service media production company based in Fairfield, New Jersey. Latino’s career has produced numerous commercial, corporate, and entertainment programs that have taken her throughout the United States as well as Europe. In 2014, Latino co-launched Hip New Jersey a lifestyle program featuring the latest trends around the Garden State. She serves as the television show’s executive producer and host. Hip New Jersey can be seen on HometowneTV, NJ on Air and HipNewJersey.com. Latino has appeared on a wide variety of local television, network cable, and radio shows, including TLC’s Cake Boss, SNY’s Oh Yeah and on WFAN Sports Radio. She also works in-season for the New York Giants Radio Network, and has served as an adjunct broadcasting professor at Seton Hall University. In 2016, Latino added published author to her lofty resume with the release of her debut novel, Ten Years Later. In 2017, “TYL” won Best Fiction at the Independent Authors Book Expo. Latino graduated from Montclair State University in 2006 with a degree in broadcasting and speech communication.

Hip Events

Oct
28
Mon
7:00 pm Grand Tasting 2019 in Florham Pa... @ Park Avenue Club
Grand Tasting 2019 in Florham Pa... @ Park Avenue Club
Oct 28 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Grand Tasting 2019 in Florham Park, NJ @ Park Avenue Club
Our biggest wine tasting event of the year! Enjoy a stellar selection of premium wines, cocktails and craft beers, served with plenty of savories at the beautiful Park Avenue Club, in Florham Park, NJ. Taste...
Oct
29
Tue
5:30 pm Trinitas Foundation Peace of Min... @ The Park Savoy Estate
Trinitas Foundation Peace of Min... @ The Park Savoy Estate
Oct 29 @ 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Trinitas Foundation Peace of Mind Event with Mariel Hemingway @ The Park Savoy Estate
Trinitas Peace of Mind Campaign Chairs, Deborah Q. Belfatto, Sue Head & Jill Sawers invite you to join them on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at The Park Savoy Estate in Florham Park, New Jersey. Enjoy...
Nov
2
Sat
1:00 pm Collingswood Food Tour @ Collingswood, NJ
Collingswood Food Tour @ Collingswood, NJ
Nov 2 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Collingswood Food Tour @ Collingswood, NJ
We invite you to take a tour of this wonderful town while sampling global flavors along the way. Prepare your palate for delicious traditional and modern Indian Cuisine. You’ll also have an opportunity to sample...
Nov
3
Sun
11:00 am Short Hills Street Fair and Craf... @ Downtown
Short Hills Street Fair and Craf... @ Downtown
Nov 3 @ 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Short Hills Street Fair and Craft Show @ Downtown
Short Hills Street Fair and Craft Shows – the absolute best way to sell your goods and services. There will be artists, crafters, vendors, food, rides, live music, and more. Free admission for spectators. Average...
Nov
9
Sat
8:00 pm Catholic Charities of the Archdi... @ Union County Performing Arts Center
Catholic Charities of the Archdi... @ Union County Performing Arts Center
Nov 9 @ 8:00 pm
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark 2nd Annual Homeless Benefit Concert featuring The Midtown Men @ Union County Performing Arts Center
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark will host its 2nd Annual Homeless Benefit Concert featuring The Midtown Men. All proceeds from this evening of great music will provide critical operations and program support, food,...
Nov
21
Thu
6:00 pm IEP Youth Services Presents “Lad... @ Battleground Country Club
IEP Youth Services Presents “Lad... @ Battleground Country Club
Nov 21 @ 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
IEP Youth Services Presents "Ladies Night Out" @ Battleground Country Club
Please join the IEP Youth Services for an evening of shopping, sipping, savoring and supporting at their 3rd Annual Ladies Night Out Fundraiser! Enjoy a delicious buffet dinner while visiting and shopping at an assortment...
Dec
1
Sun
1:00 pm Bordentown Food Tours @ Boredentown, NJ
Bordentown Food Tours @ Boredentown, NJ
Dec 1 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Bordentown Food Tours @ Boredentown, NJ
This three hour walking food tour will include historical information about the town during the American Revolution. As you travel down the streets of Bordentown, you’ll see many sights, including the home of a signer...
Jan
18
Sat
8:00 pm Stephanie Mills with The Whispers @ NJPAC Prudential Hall
Stephanie Mills with The Whispers @ NJPAC Prudential Hall
Jan 18 @ 8:00 pm
Stephanie Mills with The Whispers @ NJPAC Prudential Hall
The awe-inspiring Stephanie Mills (original star of The Wiz) performs R&B hits from an illustrious 35-year career in a soul-stirring evening with The Whispers. Part of NJPAC’s annual celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther...
Mar
20
Fri
8:00 pm Johnny Mathis The Voice of Roman... @ NJPAC Prudential Hall
Johnny Mathis The Voice of Roman... @ NJPAC Prudential Hall
Mar 20 @ 8:00 pm
Johnny Mathis The Voice of Romance Tour @ NJPAC Prudential Hall
Few artists performing today can claim to have mastered adult contemporary and soulful pop music in the way Johnny Mathis has over the years with both his live performances and his recorded albums. Mathis was...
May
2
Sat
8:00 pm Portugal’s Mariza Celebrates 20 ... @ NJPAC Prudential Hall
Portugal’s Mariza Celebrates 20 ... @ NJPAC Prudential Hall
May 2 @ 8:00 pm
Portugal’s Mariza Celebrates 20 Years of Song @ NJPAC Prudential Hall
GRAMMY nominee Mariza (“Minh’ Alma”), the modern voice of Portuguese fado, brings 20 years of song to NJPAC’s Prudential Hall! “(Mariza) remakes fado’s ancient sadness into a majestic modern sound” (Rolling Stone magazine). With her...

Browse

News collects all the stories you want to read

Brands x Business

Brands x Business

Brands x Business
Events

Events

Events
Family

Family

Family
Fashion x Beauty

Fashion x Beauty

Fashion x Beauty
Food x Drink

Food x Drink

Food x Drink
Giving Back

Giving Back

Giving Back
Health x Wellness

Health x Wellness

Health x Wellness
Hip People

Hip People

Hip People
HipTV

HipTV

HipTV
Home

Home

Home
The Hip List

The Hip List

The Hip List
Weddings

Weddings

Weddings