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Sons of Italy® Condems A&E for Growing Up Gotti

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900

WASHINGTON, August 6, 2004 ­ The Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), through its anti-defamation arm, the Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ), has strongly criticized the Arts and Entertainment (A&E) cable network for producing the new television series Growing Up Gotti, which premiered nationally Monday, Aug. 2. The Sons of Italy® is the largest and oldest national organization for Italian American men and women in the United States.

"A&E would like us to think that it has produced a documentary series about a struggling single mother, who is raising three sons while balancing the demands of a career, family and a social life," says CSJ President Albert De Napoli, Esq., who practices law in Boston.

"That is ingenuous at best," De Napoli said. "If Ms. Gotti had a different last name, A&E would not have given a second thought to a series about her life."

"What we have here is a network pandering to the seemingly insatiable appetite for Mafia stories that the U.S. entertainment industry has cultivated in the American public. As a result, Americans will know more about Victoria Gotti and her infamous father than such genuine Italian American heroines as Mother Cabrini, the first American saint; Ella Grasso, the first woman elected governor in her own right; or Betty Della Corte, a crusader for the rights of battered women."

"Clearly, A&E is cashing in on the nation's fascination with The Sopranos. What's worse, this series undermines the only positive stereotype identified with Italian Americans: their love for each other and loyalty to the family."

"If A&E had really wanted to show how a single mother today copes with work, family and finances, there are millions of better role models than Victoria Gotti," De Napoli said.

OSIA is the largest and longest-established national organization for men and women of Italian descent in the United States. Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 600,000 members and supporters and a network of more than 700 chapters coast to coast. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more, visit OSIA on the Web at