“The Sopranos” was always a bit controversial, and that controversy made things difficult for Ilene Landress, a producer and production manager for the show. Speaking to Michael Imperioli (who played Christopher) and Steve Schirripa (who played Bobby) for their book “Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive Oral History of the Sopranos,” Landress talked about the first time they struggled to get a . to get hold of a filming location for a scene.
The scene in question was one of the show’s many, many funeral scenes, it took place in the middle of the first season’s penultimate episode, “Isabella.” It was originally filmed in an Italian funeral parlor in Little Italy. However, they couldn’t finish filming the scene in that funeral home because they got kicked out half way through the place. Why? It might have had something to do with what Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) said in the middle of the funeral. As Landres explained:
“It’s the scene where the guys pay their respects to an old lady who’s in the coffin. You see Uncle Junior peering into the coffin and he turns to someone and says, ‘She gave me my first hand job.’ And we were thrown out of the place.”
Honestly, they wouldn’t be the last to want anything to do with the show. “The other problem was the shooting in Catholic churches,” Landress admitted. “They don’t like us very much either.” Well, it wasn’t the churches themselves, but the archdiocese of the church that wouldn’t give them permission. “They want family friendly. Kind of like Major League Baseball.”
Not much baseball in the sopranos
While it’s easy to understand why a church would want nothing to do with “The Sopranos,” Major League Baseball was a more surprising robber. In the Season 5 episode “All Happy Families,” there’s a scene where Tony (James Gandolfini) is watching baseball on TV with a few other characters. Usually in a scene like this, the audience gets at least a glimpse of what the characters see on TV, but that never happens here. As Ilene Landress explained, “We couldn’t get permission to use Major League Baseball footage in the show because it’s not a family-friendly show, so to speak.”
It’s a line of reasoning that makes some sense until you remember all the other companies that were okay with appearing on the show. So the MLB didn’t want “The Sopranos” to include footage from their games, but Nintendo was fine with Tony the mob boss playing Mario Kart with his son? Something isn’t right here.
Showrunner David Chase also seemed to think it was unfair, as he ended up writing his annoyance at the MLB into his script. “There’s a line in the script where Artie says, ‘F*** Major League Baseball. Let’s watch ballet,'” Landress said. “If David got mad, if we couldn’t fix something that we wanted, we kind of worked it into the dialogue.” It’s the kind of information that makes you wonder if an orange juice company has ever disapproved of the show, too, but we’ll never know for sure.
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