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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
Sopranos hit back at 'racist' claim
The Sopranos
The Sopranos centres around Jersey-based mobsters
Makers of the hit American TV series The Sopranos will go to court on Wednesday to ask a judge to dismiss a claim that the drama offends Italian-Americans.

The move comes after the American Italian Defence Association (Aida), sued HBO for the "racist" depiction of Italian-Americans involved in murders and extortion.

The award-winning show depicts the activities of New Jersey mobsters.

HBO - part of Time Warner AOL - will tell the Chicago judge that the claim infringes their rights to free speech.

We're not looking for money - we want a moral victory

Theodore Grippo, chairman of AIDA

The judge will make a ruling based on an obscure Illinois state law that protects individual dignity.

Theodore Grippo, chairman of Aida, said they were seeking "vindication" rather than compensation or to stop production.

"We're looking for a vindication of our reputation. We realise we can't stop the free speech rights of Time Warner.

"We're not looking for money - we want a moral victory, we want to balance things."

The Sopranos
The show stars the award-winning Gandolfini
An HBO spokeswoman said the series was an extraordinary artistic achievement of which the company was very proud.

"We are very proud of The Sopranos," the cable channel said when AIDA sued in April.

"We are hardly alone in our assessment that the show is an extraordinary artistic achievement."

The show, screened in the UK on Channel 4, centres around fictional New Jersey mob boss, Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini.


Soprano describes himself as a "waste-management consultant". The series is presented largely in the first person and sees Tony at work, home and in therapy.

Moments of black comedy characteristically intersperse the series which contains violence and strong language.

A huge hit with viewers and critics, the show has reaped many awards, including Emmys and Golden Globes.

It is again predicted to sweep the board at this year's Primetime Emmys ceremony in September.

See also:

06 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Sopranos sued by Italian group
24 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Crowds mob Sopranos auditions
13 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Legal shows scoop top Emmys
03 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Sopranos in campus row
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