Since it first aired in 1999, the show has become a cultural phenomenon, gaining wide popularity and exceptional critical acclaim for its groundbreaking approach to its view into the Mafia lifestyle, the American family, the Italian American community, the effects of violence on the human soul and the grey area between what society considers morally right and wrong. Like other HBO programs, The Sopranos is rated for mature audiences only—for the adult issues it deals with, depictions of violence, frontal nudity, and strong language. Millions of people plan their weekends around the Sopranos, ready to hear the opening lines from the theme song: 'You woke up this morning, Got yourself a gun, Mama always said you'd be The Chosen One.' There are those who think 'Woke Up This Morning', by A3 was created for the series. Find out.. because it wasn't. It's not even about gangsters and mobsters. True Hollywood Stories knows the facts about the songster who created this obscure song....well, obscure until it became the most downloaded tune ever. The plot of The Sopranos is simple enough. Get up. Go to work. Be a gangster in Northern New Jersey. Kill. Plot. Leave fingerprints with abandon. Give the FBI the finger. Adultery. All the makings of what the people want to see, what we glorify....what we WISH we could do...the absolute disregard for the law...it's what we all dream about..being a member of La Famiglia..The Family of Families...the MOB. The romantic notion of stomping taboos and raising hell and getting away with it is too delicious to resist. We follow the lives of the Sopranos and wish we were the ones living it.
Here are some fun facts for all of us who want to know everything there is to know about the Sopranos. You can read these first and then download the E! Online True Hollywood Story, commercial free and yours to keep:
--Other titles considered for the show were Red Sauce, Family Guy and Made in New Jersey.
--Lorraine Bracco, who plays therapist Dr. Jennifer Melfi, was originally considered for the role of Tony Soprano's wife, Carmela. Bracco didn't want to do it, because she had already portrayed a mob wife in GoodFellas.
--Bracco was once involved in a romantic triangle with Edward James Olmos and her husband, Harvey Keitel. She divorced Keitel, and the two fought bitterly for custody of their daughter. The legal costs forced Bracco to file for bankruptcy.
--Tony Sirico, who plays Paulie "Walnuts" Gaultieri, spent five years in prison. He has 28 arrests on his rap sheet, including some for armed robbery. He saw a traveling theater group made up of ex-cons and decided he'd rather play a mobster than be one.
--Steve Van Zandt, who played guitar with Bruce Springsteen, auditioned for the role of Tony Soprano but ended up playing Silvio Dante, owner of the Bada Bing! Club.
--Dominic Chianese, who plays "Uncle Junior" Soprano, also played Johnny Ola in The Godfather Part II.
--Producers considered recasting Jamie-Lynn Sigler's character after she showed up to work on the first season unnaturally skinny. Instead, Sigler sought counseling for her anorexia and retained the part of Meadow Soprano.
--The Sopranos costs about $2 million per episode, one of the most expensive shows on television.
--James Gandolfini was voted best-looking by his senior high school class.
--The first season of The Sopranos earned 16 Emmy nominations, more than any other show. It won for casting, writing and editing. And Edie Falco won for Best Actress in a Drama Series.
--The show's second season earned 18 Emmy nominations. Only James Gandolfini won for Best Actor in a Drama Series. Year three earned a whopping 22 nominations, with four victories. Falco and Gandolfini won again, plus the show won awards for writing and makeup.
--The show inspired a series of adult films called The Sopornos.
--HBO got 695,000 new subscriptions after the second season of The Sopranos premiered.
--Jamie-Lynn Sigler contracted Lyme disease and became paralyzed from the waist down, but she later recovered.
--After matriarch Nancy Marchand died, the show's creators used unedited footage to insert her into a few scenes so that her character could have closure.
--Jamie-Lynn Sigler once helped a woman in a neighboring hotel room escape from a man who was later prosecuted for sexual assault.
--The show has come under fire from a number of Italian-American groups, who say it depicts all Italians in an unfavorable light. One group in Chicago went so far as to file suit against the show, claiming it violated Illinois' constitution, which prohibits using the public airwaves to defame a person or ethnicity. The case was dismissed.
--Police arrested Robert Iler, who plays A.J. Soprano Jr., on suspicion of mugging a couple of teenagers in New York. Iler was charged with second-degree robbery and possession of marijuana. He reached a plea bargain with prosecutors; he pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and petty larceny and received three years' probation.
--Between seasons three and four, the show took a 16-month break to deal with cast ailments and rewrites necessitated by the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
--The September 15, 2002, debut of the fourth season drew 13.4 million viewers, the first time a premium cable show bested all the network shows.
--Michael Imperioli plays Christopher Moltisanti, who once shot a guy in the foot on the show. In GoodFellas, Imperioli played a guy who got shot in the foot.
--In 2003, James Gandolfini and HBO sued each other. He wanted $16 million or $20 million for the season--they wanted to pay him less. In the end, the two sides settled, and filming resumed.
There is much controversy surrounding the hit series. From production conflicts to super star egos and outcries of bigotry from the communities, The Sopranos has faced a variety of criticisms. No ethnic group escapes unscathed from the vulgarities and slurs hurled. The Italian community has been up in arms and vocal about how they are portrayed, screaming 'Discrimination' after each and every show. With every episode, the vulgarity and violence is only superceded by name calling and labeling. The actors who portray the characters for 'The Family' have their own 'real time' police blotters, giving rise to rumours that real life is not so far away from the roles they play. The topper comes when Vito shows his gay side, bringing forth a hue and cry from the real wise guys and the gay community. Not a week goes by in this sixth and allegedly final season, that inappropriate gay jokes are shot from the cannons of the 'show' mob members. We have it all on video for you, where you can find out whether Vito is really gay..or is he just playing one on television. The surprise episode, with Vito dressed in leather, caught by his fellow paisans, has had fans buzzing and speculating. And, so it goes with The Sopranos. Who's going to get whacked next week? What's up with Tony and his shrink? Is Chris off the wagon and back to his old drug habits? When will Carmella finally have enough? And, how crazy IS Artie? Is Paulie really a Mama's boy? Silvio, one of the most popular characters on the show...what's his real story? Asthmatic or charismatic? A.J...oy vey..what a pussy! Will he get involved in the mob or will someone put that whiner out of his and our misery? Meadow does protest a bit much about who her family is; but, we think she could probably be more ruthless than Tony himself. Who's next on the list for a whack job? When will Tony start sleeping around again? Will he boff his shrink? Many think so. Will there be another season? Rumour has it there are going to be eight additional bonus episodes...that season number six is NOT the end.
So many characters, so much to reveal. With E! Online True Hollywood Stories, no one sleeps with the fishes. We'll show you, with every salacious detail, how this top-notch series has impacted the lives of the stars behind their gangster names and roles. You can see for yourself how sometimes fiction overtakes reality and turns a character portrayal into real lifer personalities. Watch and learn all about these celebrities, whose lives are permanently marked. Get ready for the download of your life, one you can keep forever..... and be prepared! YOUR life WILL change, for better or for worse, until we have YOU looking over YOUR shoulder for the shadow of the Sopranos!