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Monday, 24 July, 2000, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Crowds mob Sopranos auditions
Sopranos fans in New Jersey
About 13,000 turned up to the casting call
Producers of the hit US TV series The Sopranos, about a fictional New Jersey mob family, were overwhelmed by interest following a casting call for the show.

Police had to call in reinforcements to handle the crowds and highway entrances to the New Jersey town of Harrison, where the event was held, were temporarily closed.

Faced with 13,000 applicants and queues stretching several blocks, the casting call was shut down after just 30 minutes, with those who missed out told to post their applications.

"Italian-looking men & women age 16 and older" were invited to a Harrison High School for "speaking and non-speaking parts". Many arrived sporting their own ideas of mob outfits.

Michael Badalucco and Edie Falco announce the Emmy nominees
The Sopranos scooped 18 Emmy nominations
Fans dreaming of becoming the next mob don - an Anthony Soprano, Uncle "Junior" Soprano or Paulie Walnuts - came from far and wide, but producers stressed there was no guarantee that any of Saturday's hopefuls would appear.

Joey Saladino came all the way from Coral Springs, Florida. "When we came through the toll booths, we were wondering how many Italians there were in Jersey," he said. "We just found out."

Gangster flicks

The hopeful fan, who said he sometimes gets bit parts in gangster flicks shot in Florida, wore a black pin-stripe suit, black shirt and black tie, gold chain and cross, and "real" Rolex.

Saladino gladly offered an impromptu sidewalk audition. "We're in da parts business," he said. "We do da shins, da knees, and for special holidays, like, uh, Valentine's Day, we send hearts to people."

Another fan's vision of a gangster get-up was a black polyester shirt unbuttoned to just above the navel, two gold chains - one bearing a cross and the other spelling out his name in diamonds, two gold bracelets and three gold rings.

But the show, which last week received 18 Emmy nominations, has caused controversy among some Italian-Americans for perpetuating negative media portrayals of the community.

Manny Alfano of Bloomfield, from the Italian-American One Voice Committee, took special umbrage at the requirement that Saturday's applicants be "Italian-American looking."

"Does that mean that anyone who fits the stereotype of a buffoon, bum, bigot or bimbo?" he asked.

See also:

20 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Sopranos lead Emmy pack
22 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Sopranos sing loudest at Emmys
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