Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
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Some consider it to be the greatest television show of all-time, but “The Sopranos” was certainly not an easy show to create. Starting in 1999, “The Sopranos” documented a New Jersey family with ties to the mafia, headlined by Tony Soprano who was played by James Gandolfini. The series was created by David Chase, and despite all of its praise, receives some heavy criticism for how the series finale ended. Advertisements:
What we saw on screen was some terrific writing by David Chase and acting by Gandolfini, but the two were notoriously hard to work with back stage. Gandolfini ended up being a very destructive person as a combination of drugs, alcohol and going through a divorce got the best of him during the early parts of the series. It was said by people that worked on the set that Gandolfini would break things on the set, and even punch himself in the face.
Most of the rage that Gandolfini displayed would be toward himself, as he punished his own body for getting lines wrong or forgetting where to stand while on set. One source said that “he would berate himself in disgust, curse, smack the back of his own head.” Not only that, but Gandolfini would often not even show up on days of shooting. He would become so upset with himself for not showing up that he would make up for it by buying very expensive gifts for the people that worked on “The Sopranos”.
Normally, Gandolfini wouldn’t even bother with calling ahead to say that he wasn’t going to make it on set, disappearing for days at a time. It was bad enough to the point where some of the crew members thought that Gandolfini had passed away...mainly since one writer remembered seeing a news telecast that claimed the actor had died. It turned out that Gandolfini was walking the streets alone avoiding contact with anyone.
Gandolfini wasn’t alone with his odd behavior, as David Chase was just as difficult to work with, if not moreso. Chase made sure the crew always had something to do by setting up elaborate and expensive shots, knowing that HBO would cover the cost for the wildly popular show. The set-up crews had it rough, but it was the writers’ office that got the brunt of Chase’s damage.
Chase would behave violently if he received bad news, kicking objects in his office to the point where his assistant would deliver bad news, then leave for five minutes and come back when he settled down. Most of the time, it was Gandolfini that would be the source for his rage, though he would get into confrontations with other cast and crew members, as well.
As for the writers, there were a lot of different ones on the show as Chase made for a lot of turnover. Chase wrote 30 of the show’s 86 episodes while writing crews handled the rest. Todd Kessler was one of the writers that got attention from Chase, and it changed dramatically depending on what day of the week it was. At one time, Chase decided to just fire Kessler despite showing a lot of promise since the two didn’t get along personally. Kessler would end up writing a show called “Damages” about a boss that behaved erratically and sociopathically. It turned out that sources revealed the character was based on Chase.
In the writing room, you were lucky if you stuck around for more than just a few weeks, as Terence Winter (a producer on the show) said that “I’ve never seen people get fired so fast. You walk into (Chase’s) office and 10 seconds later the door opens and you have your s*** in a box. He does not mince words.”
As for the ending, that’s a secret that we might not ever understand. Even the cast members didn’t know the outcome of the finale after the screen cut to black. One person even recalls Gandolfini watching the ending and audibly saying “What the f***?” We thought we might get an explanation when Chase talked about the ending in 2015, but he ended up revealing next to nothing.