‘The Many Saints of Newark’ airs tomorrow


For ‘Sopranos’ fans, this prequel is “must see TV” even if the reviews are mixed

I’m not sure about you, but as I write this on September 30, I have only one thing on my mind.

No, not my usual blathering about Ron DeSantis or Marco Rubio. Or immigration. Or our dysfunctional political system. Or…

No, today, the one thing I have on my mind is tomorrow. And specifically, that tomorrow, October 1, HBO Max will, air for the first time, the feature film, ‘The Many Saints of Newark.’ Sorry, you Cory Booker fans, it’s not a story about New Jersey’s junior senator. But it is the prequel to one of the greatest, if not the greatest, show in television history, ‘The Sopranos.’ (BTW, the film will also air in theaters. But why would you want to watch what is essentially a TV show, in a movie theater?)

The film looks at the formation and destiny of a young Tony Soprano and includes many of the usual, but younger, ‘Sopranos’ characters including: Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli in narration voice-over); Livia Soprano (Tony’s therapy-inducing mother, played by Vera Farmiga); Uncle Junior Soprano (Corey Stoll); Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt in the original, John Magaro, here); and two previously mentioned, but never seen ‘Sopranos’ characters, Aldo Moltisanti, Christopher’s grandfather (played by Ray Liotta – can you actually make a mob movie without Ray Liotta?); and Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher’s father (played by Alessandro Nivola).

Michael Gandolfini, left, and Alessandro Nivola in ‘The Many Saints of Newark.’ 

Of course, in what hopefully will end up being the casting coup of the century, Michael Gandolfini, the late James Gandolfini’s son (Tony in ‘The Sopranos’) will play the young Tony. I say hopefully because the younger Gandolfini, not yet an accomplished actor, has an almost impossible burden. Early reviews suggest he nails it…and, according to Jen Chaney in her New York Magazine review, “looks so much like his dad that it makes your heart ache.”

Of course, how can you see a ‘Sopranos’ prequel without thinking back to the original’s final episode which left us all wondering, what happened? Is Tony dead? Did the TV break? Was there a power blackout? Huh?

This week, in Vanity Fair, the aforementioned Steven Van Zandt shed some light on those questions. According to Van Zandt, here’s the true story:

Years later, Vanity Fair did a retrospective on the show and talked to actors and writers. Inevitably, the reporter got to the big question: “How did it really end? What happened?”

“OK,” I said. “I’ve been asked this a thousand times, and I’m gonna settle it once and for all right now. You are going to get the scoop! This is the last time I will ever answer this, so sharpen your pencil.”

The reporter got visibly excited.

“You wanna know what really happened?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Alright. This is it. Are you ready?”

He was.

“The Director yelled cut and the actors went home.”

Thanks, Steven, very helpful.

Tomorrow’s the day however, not to get the answer to how ‘The Sopranos’ ended, but to how it began. I, for one, can’t wait!

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

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