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Commission for Social Justice® Commends Essex County (N.J.) Officials for
Anti-"Sopranos" Actions

CSJ Leads Rise in Anti-Defamation Sentiments

Contact: Diane E. Crespy, (202) 547-2900 dcrespy@osia.org

Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2000 - The Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ), the anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), has commended Essex County, N.J., Executive James W. Treffinger and Sheriff Armando Fontoura for rejecting a request from HBO's "The Sopranos" to film on county-owned land.

According to the Associated Press, Treffinger cited noise and safety concerns as the reasons for not allowing the filming, but added that he would not grant a permit for an enterprise that contains negative stereotypical images of any ethnic group.

"As long as I am county executive, no county property is going to be used by a show that depicts any ethnic group in a less than favorable fashion," he said, according to the Dec. 16 issue of New Jersey's Star-Ledger.

"You…and others who have denied 'The Sopranos' must continue to lead the way and take public positions against this show….We admire and appreciate your standing by your convictions, and standing up for the country's 24 million Italian Americans," CSJ President John Dabbene wrote in a letter to Treffinger.

Essex County, where the fictional Soprano family lives, is part of the region with the largest Italian-American population in the country and is a popular setting for the show. Fontoura appears to be bothered by this.

According to the AP, Fontoura said, "I'm constantly having to defend my country and state….I don't think the show is good for Essex County. It's not accurate. That's not what we're all about."

Essex County is one of a growing list of individuals, organizations, and municipalities that are rejecting "The Sopranos" because of its false, defamatory content. Providence, R.I., Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr., has denied "The Sopranos" the opportunity to hold an event in his city, even though some proceeds would have gone to his scholarship fund for Providence students. The Columbus Citizens Foundation refused to allow "The Sopranos" cast members to march in this year's Columbus Day Parade in New York City. William Paterson University in New Jersey also recently denied permission for "The Sopranos" to film on its campus.

"The tide is changing," said Dabbene. "More people in the position to shun 'The Sopranos' are doing so because they realize the detrimental effects it has on the country's fifth largest ethnic population, people who have contributed so positively to this nation and the world."

"The CSJ will continue to lead the way in this fight against defamation. We commend those who have stood up to 'The Sopranos.' But we can not stop here and ask others to join us, following in the footsteps of County Executive Treffinger and Mayor Cianci, and organizations like the Columbus Citizens Foundation and William Paterson University," Dabbene added.

The Commission for Social Justice® was founded to ensure equal treatment, concern, respect, and freedom for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, or sex. The CSJ is particularly dedicated to eliminating false, negative portrayals of Italian Americans in the media and entertainment industries and replacing them with true, positive, and affirming portrayals. For more information on the fight against "The Sopranos" and to learn how you can become involved, contact the CSJ at (202) 547-2900, csj@osia.org, or One Stop Italian America.

To view the Associated Press article visit: The Associated Press

Go to "search" in the upper, right-hand corner to search "The Wire" for the phrase "The Sopranos." We apologize, no direct link could be established.

For more information on the Order Sons of Italy in America®n and its other initiatives and programs, please visit OSIA's official Web site www.osia.org, email nationaloffice@osia.org, or call (202) 547-2900.