A Sopranos Clue?

A Sopranos Clue?  | Matt Dillon's Deposit  | Lisa Marie's Blues  | Jazz Singers: Simone and Edwards

A Sopranos Clue?

Since The Sopranos is still filming, we may wonder what happened to Furio, the Italian mobster whom Carmela Soprano flirted with last season.

Pony-tailed actor Federico Castelluccio plays Furio, or rather, maybe, played him — past tense. Last night Castelluccio turned up at the opening of Matt Dillon's movie City of Ghosts, and there was something different about him: The pony-tail was gone.

What happened?

"I cut it off right at the end of last season," Castelluccio said. "I made two movies during the hiatus, and it wouldn't have looked right."

As fans of The Sopranos know, Carmela (Edie Falco) confessed her flirtation to Tony (James Gandolfini) in the cliffhanger, and Furio vanished, supposedly home to Naples, Italy.

So what will Castelluccio do when he returns to the show?

"They'll give me a fake one," he said. Ah ha!  But the show went back into production three weeks ago. Isn't Furio in the early episodes?

"I can't say," said Castelluccio, looking a little nervous. "I don't want to give anything away."

But ... maybe it's a clue. We'll have to wait and find out.

Matt Dillon Has a Big Security Deposit

The premiere of City of Ghosts was notable for many things, not the least of which was the number of security guards who attended the show and the party afterward. GSS Security Services had no fewer than eight big guys talking into earpieces and hanging around Matt Dillon.

One of the premiere's organizers said Dillon had actually asked for guards — 16 — but the number was cut down. Still, United Artists came away with a huge tab for a fairly low-key evening. The only other well-known actor in sight was Griffin Dunne, and he didn't even go to the after-party.

So what of City of Ghosts? It's so interesting when actors direct and you can see what they have in their heads. Many have nothing.

Some — Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Dunne — have a vision. Dillon, surprisingly, has a good eye. He gets some excellent performances from his talented cast, which includes Stellan Skarsgård and Gérard Depardieu. He also has some terrific camera work, knockout Cambodian locations and the staggeringly beautiful Natascha McElhone.

But most of the ghosts in this city are clichés; the script is so overweighted with nonsense that a lot of the good work goes out the window.

Nevertheless, Dillon is on his way to something bigger. For his next film, though, a comedy, he returns to being an actor. Can he do it again after calling the shots?

"Listen," he told me, "a lot of those other directors I worked with didn't know what they were doing. And they didn't know about actors."

Could be a new Kevin Costner in the making. Hmmm....

Lisa Marie's Sales Fall Apart

It's not good news for Elvis Presley's  daughter. Not very many copies of Lisa Marie's To Whom It May Concern have left the building.

The album, which debuted on the charts last week at No. 5, will be lucky to remain in the top 20 when all the counting is down for this week. Her sales were off by about 50 percent. This is despite a heavy publicity campaign that saw Presley gossiping about her marriages (to Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage), her father and anything else she could think of in order to sell records.

Unfortunately, the record itself wasn't of enough quality to sustain the buzz. One listen was like torture. Two listens ... well, you get the idea.

The Top 10 also has middling news for Fleetwood Mac. Say You Will, their first album in 200 years (well, really, eight years, but their first with Lindsey Buckingham since the Reagan administration), will also make a Top 5 start, but failed to make a real dent in the public psyche.

In the end, Say You Will was beaten handily by the debut of American Idol star Kelly Clarkson (who put out a halfway decent record, all things considered) and the ubiquitous, inexplicably popular rapper 50 Cent.

Nina Simone, Teddy Edwards: True Legends

You know the world is a much more difficult place to live in today. Nina Simone has died at age 70.

I met her last year at the Rainforest Foundation benefit at Carnegie Hall. She was enfeebled and looked like she might not make it onto the stage. She got a lot of help that night, particularly from Patti LaBelle.

But when Simone settled down at the piano, she started kerplunking away at the keys. And there, like magic, was "My Baby Just Cares for Me."

It was a moment of excitement I do not think Sting, Elton John or James Taylor — all of whom were hanging around the back of the stage — will ever be able to forget. Certainly, no one who was there will.

Nina Simone had a voice that was soothing and raspy at the same time.

She made ordinary songs seem revelatory. Her singing was infused with personality, and the persona was the sum of so much — romance, politics, mystery. I suppose she will now join the long list of names about whom younger people will say, "Who?" whilst downloading some trivial pursuit from the Internet.

For those who know the score, the loss of Nina Simone is maximal, along with that of Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and so many other great vocalists. On record, at least, she, and they, will never be far away.

Also yesterday, the sad passing of jazz tenor saxophone legend Teddy Edwards, who was 78. "Sunset Eyes" was his hit, but true jazz fans know him as a contemporary of Dexter Gordon, Max Roach and Clifford Brown.

Edwards' death makes me think that Warren Leight's prize-winning play, Side Man, should really get made into a movie — and fast. And Clint Eastwood should direct it. If you know Clint, pass this on to him, pronto.