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CSJ Commends Actor Olmos

Washington, D.C., May 22, 2000 – The Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ), the anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), has commended actor Edward James Olmos for his public stand against negative stereotyping of ethnic groups in the media, particularly Italians as they are portrayed in the HBO series "The Sopranos."

In the "Reliable Source" section of the Washington Post on May 4, Olmos is quoted as saying "Italians have been beaten up enough." The show, he says, appeals to the "lowest common denominator … There's no way we can continue to move forward that way."

"Mr. Olmos is a prime example of a positive role model in the fight against negative, demeaning stereotyping of ethnic groups in the media," said CSJ President John B. Dabbene. "Other Hollywood entertainers and producers should follow his lead to promote positive images of Italian Americans and all ethnicities."

Even though his wife Lorraine Bracco is a regular on the show as Tony Soprano's psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi, Olmos made it clear that he could not support the show because of it's derogatory portrayals of Italian Americans, stating, "I'm not a proponent of the show because of the story lines."

Olmos was recently awarded the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award for "selfless and devoted service in the cause of equality." He has worked to preserve and advance Latino culture as producer of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and the Latino Book & Family Festival, to which he has made a personal lifelong commitment, among other projects.

"The Sopranos" has been under attack by many Italian-American groups since its debut in January 1999 for perpetuating false and negative stereotypes of all Italian Americans, the fifth largest ethnic population in the United States. Foremost in this effort has been the Commission for Social Justice®. CSJ officials have urged members to cancel their subscriptions in protest and have met numerous times with HBO representatives. Despite these numerous attempts by the CSJ to curb the negative portrayals or counteract them with positive ones, HBO has refused to alter the show's images in any way.