HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – "I'm heartbroken." That's what actor Tony Sirico (aka Paulie Walnuts) told me Sunday as most of the main players of HBO's "The Sopranos" traveled down to South Florida for a finale party at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood.
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Yes, that's the same place where Anna Nicole Smith met her demise. But aside from Phil Leotardo biting the bullet and getting his head crushed by his wife's SUV, there were no deaths to speak of in the final show of one of the most critically acclaimed television series of all time.
I'm not buying into the whole "existentialism" and "brilliance" of David Chase and his "Sopranos."
Everybody had a theory on how the show would end. Gossipers had Silvio offing the ever annoying Paulie at a Jersey gas station. Didn't happen. Still another rampant rumor involved a case of mistaken identity, where one of Phil's goons would mistakenly off Meadow Soprano while she was driving Tony's Cadillac.
Instead, nothing happened. Cut to black, end of story, end of era. Don't stop believing. OK. Sirico said it. I'm heartbroken too, but for different reasons. I hated the ending.
I could go on and on about the meaning. Perhaps Chase was making a case about therapy. "What does it mean, doc?" "I don't know, what do you think it means?"
As a fan, I was sorely disappointed. I felt like that hour of my life waiting to see what would happen to my favorite fictional family was robbed.
"It goes by in a blur," said Steve Schirripa, whose Bobby Bacala was gunned down at a hobby shop in the next-to-last episode of the mob drama. "It's been a great eight years. I've had the time of my life, and I'm thankful for all the support here," he said as hundreds of fans lined the red carpet leading to Hard Rock Live, the theater converted to look like an Italian wedding and village for Sunday's gala.
The cast was in a festive mood, surprised by the outpouring of affection they received.
Lorraine Bracco, whose Bracco Wine was the only red served at dinner, signed autographs along with lead actor James Gandolfini, who wouldn't talk even though his character lives to see another day (or does he)?
"I'm sorry, I can't," he said as I asked him for a comment on the end of the series. "There's going to be a lot of people here to talk to you," he said. What, do you have an exclusive with Katie Couric or something?
I pleaded my case.
"Jim, I came all the way down from New York to talk to you," I said.
"I'm sorry, I'm just no good at it," he said, smiling apologetically. Who knew Gandolfini was camera shy? Houston, we have another De Niro.
"Don't take it personally," said Mike, the cast security guard, all secretive in my ear. "He doesn't like to talk. He's the best, the best," Mike said.
Michael Imperioli promises a TV show is in the works which he will executive produce, much like he did on Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam," and Steven Van Zandt had a message for that other Boss in his life:
"Maybe I'll give Springsteen a call and see what he's up to," he said. Meanwhile, his excellent radio program "Little Steven's Underground Garage" continues to play some of the best music on terrestrial radio (it's also available on Sirius Satellite Radio).
Here's what the guys had to say about the ending.
James Gandolfini: nothing
Michael Imperioli: "It was appropriate."
Steve Van Zandt: "Nothing's over."
Vincent Curatola: "Thought we'd all blow up in one room. Didn't happen."
Arthur Nascalarello: "I want to be the King of England, but I didn't get it."
Steven Schirripa: "It was a great ending."
John Ventimiglia: "We weren't expecting a sendoff like this" (about the party).
Lorraine Bracco: "Psychiatry community was upset that the doctor/patient confidentiality was broken and that I gave up Jimmy (meaning Tony) as a patient."
Tony Sirico: "You can't get away from us."
Now here's what I say about the ending...
Fuhgedabouddit! I wanted closure. I wanted to see the show end. I don't want to have to guess, nor do I even want to see a sequel, prequel or a movie. Here's hoping the DVD will have all those alternate endings that were supposedly shot on it, so we can all pick the one we want to see on film, and leave it at that.
The fat lady was supposed to sing. Instead, Steve Perry's voice was all we heard, and no Soprano in earshot.
My Food Issues
Readers of my column know that I have a thing with food. I can't stand hearing people eat, and I don't like the sound food being spooned on a plate. I can't stand people who munch their popcorn in my ear at the movie theater, and I definitely don't like the sound of chewing gum being smacked from one end of one's mouth to the other.
That's why I was Grrr'd beyond belief after renting "Failure to Launch," the other day, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey. Every single scene happened around food.
A date. Breakfast. Wine gulping. Apple eating. Protein bars. Seafood with the requisite "Splash" throwing of the lobster. Can't stand it.
Even in the last episode of "The Sopranos," I cringed at Bobby Bacala's funeral where everybody devoured the food at the house.
Why do filmmakers have to show us the eating, the chewing and the smacking of the gum all the time?
You know the "Jackass" movies? For the most part, they're just gross-out flicks with crazy stunts thrown in for good measure. I want to make a movie called "Eat This," where I raise the sound on food noises and feature an hour's worth of close-ups on mouths, teeth, chins, food-covered tongues and lots of maggots crawling on month-old hamburger sounds for your edification.
The sad part is, it would be box-office gold.
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