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Sons of Italy® Blasts "Sopranos," Creator Chase, and Show's Supporters for Promoting Negative Italian Stereotypes

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

Washington, D.C., March 1, 2001 - The Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the longest-established and largest organization of American men and women of Italian heritage, blasted David Chase and his HBO series "The Sopranos" for promoting falsely negative images of Italian Americans, as the show gets set to start its third season on Mar. 4.

"The fact that Mr. Chase sees nothing wrong with what he is doing makes what he is doing a greater offense to the Italian-American community," said OSIA President Philip R. Boncore, Esq. "He blatantly exploits our community for his personal benefit, sensationalizing the mythological notion of an all-encompassing organized crime element and completely discarding all positive aspects from his fictional characters and story lines. Where is the balance? Where are the positive role models?"

The anti-Sopranos movement, led by the Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ), OSIA's anti-defamation arm, has been fueled recently by quotes from Chase in the March 5 edition of Newsweek. In an interview in that issue Chase responded to his critics by saying, "This is a story about America. Anybody who watches it with any degree of intelligence understands that right away."

"It wasn't enough for him to stereotype an entire ethnic population as criminals. He is now insulting us, calling us unintelligent because we don't approve of his discrimination," remarked Boncore. "The story is not about America. It is about categorizing all Italian-Americans as one type of person, the low-class, dim-witted hoodlum. Any self-respecting Italian-American will understand that."

Over the two years that "The Sopranos" has aired, OSIA and the CSJ have encountered more allies than obstacles in their fight.

Providence, R.I., Mayor Vincent Cianci refused to let HBO hold an event in his city, despite a promise that HBO would donate some proceeds to his scholarship fund for Providence youth. Essex County, N.J., officials denied "The Sopranos" a permit to film there, as did William Paterson College in New Jersey. Last October, the show's cast members were not permitted to march in the Columbus Day Parade in New York city, which is also a celebration of all Italian and Italian-American accomplishments and the Italian heritage.

But those that support "The Sopranos" are taking heat from OSIA and other Italian-American groups. In February the Museum of Modern Art in New York City held a one-week program highlighting Chase and "The Sopranos." The CSJ's request for equal time during the program was met with no response by the MoMA.

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has also been a topic of discussion for his participation in HBO's promotions and for giving the cast keys to the city. OSIA National Executive Director Philip Piccigallo, Ph.D., addressed the concerns about Giuliani in a radio interview with WOR-AM's (New York) Ed Walsh on Mar. 1.

"...When they are given keys to the city this raises them to heroic status," Piccigallo said. "And that should be reserved for real heroes."

The CSJ works to ensure equal concern, treatment, respect, freedom, and opportunity for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, or age. The CSJ is particularly dedicated to eradicating negative portrayals of Italian Americans and replacing them with positive, affirming images. For more information about OSIA or the CSJ, write to 219 E St., NE, Washington, DC 20002 or email nationaloffice@osia.org, and visit www.osia.org.