Friday, October 11, 2002
New York In a recent episode of "The Sopranos," members of Tony Soprano's crew got into a fight with another group over a Columbus Day celebration.
Now, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asked two of the show's cast members to march in New York's Columbus Day parade. But no one told the parade planners, who dislike the HBO mob drama because they say it perpetuates negative images of Italian-Americans.
"The show stereotypes the Italo-American family in the worst way," said Larry Auriana, president of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which is organizing Monday's parade. "Besides the whole crime element, it shows Italo-Americans as uneducated, low-life brutes."
"This," Auriana added, "is not the mayor's parade."
Bloomberg asked Dominic Chianese, who plays Tony's Uncle Junior, and Lorraine Bracco, who plays psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi, to take part in the parade. The foundation previously has turned down requests for "Sopranos" actors to appear at the annual event.
Cory Richman, assistant to Chianese's manager, said Chianese planned to accept the invitation.
"As a citizen of New York, I am proud to march with Mayor Bloomberg in the Columbus Day parade," the actor said through his manager.
Messages left for Bracco's representatives were not returned.
Bloomberg said Wednesday he invited the actors because of the work they do on behalf of the city: Bracco as a spokeswoman on environmental issues, Chianese for making a public service announcement for tourism.
"I didn't invite them as members of 'The Sopranos.' I didn't invite any other member of the 'Sopranos' cast," the mayor said. "These are two nice people who have gone out of their way to help the city."
"I apologize if anybody's offended," he said, but added, "if you are offended, don't wave back when they wave to you."