Because no aspect of the Sopranos phenomenon should be left unexplored in the publicity blitz leading up to next Sunday's premiere of the final season, midtown's Museum of Television and Radio last night hosted “The Whacked Sopranos,” a panel discussion at which we gained yet more perspective on the show from five of its late and lamented. The big lesson: Even though they lost paychecks and prominence, the actors who played the whacked characters understand that they needed to go. “Whadaya gonna do,” asked Vincent Pastore, who played "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero, “put him in witness protection? That’s NBC.”
Pastore was joined onstage by moderator Bryant Gumbel, creator David Chase, writer Terence Winter, and actors who played four of the show's other most memorable, and memorably whacked, characters (but not the guy who played the Russian, sadly). An audience member noted that of the five, the three men were killed on camera while the two women were not. Why was that? Because, Winter explained, he simply didn’t want to see Adriana, whom he "loved," get shot. “You didn’t love Pussy?” Gumbel asked. No, folks, Terence Winter does not love Pussy.
The audience learned some other cool stuff. Like that it can kind of suck for the bumped-off actors: After Richie Aprile met his maker, actor David Proval’s next role was as a rabbi on The West Wing. Like that Tony Blundetto, the Steve Buscemi character in season five, was initially supposed to come back for season six: It was only after the writers had him kill a New York captain’s brother that they realized they'd have to kill him off, too. (“That was a blunder on our part,” acknowledged Chase.)
What we didn't learn was how the whole thing ends. For his part, Chase told the audience — twice — that Carmela gets killed in the third episode of the upcoming season. He was kidding. We think. We hope. —Marc Tracy
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