All In The Family: ‘Sopranos’ Cast Brings Down The House At 25th Anniversary Reunion & Alex Gibney ‘Wise Guy’ Docu Tribeca Premiere

Robert Iler, aka Tony Soprano’s son A.J., said it best Thursday night at Tribeca Festival’s 25th anniversary The Sopranos get-together: “Now my friends are going to shitty high school reunions and I’m going to cool stuff like this.”

Tribeca tonight premiered the Alex Gibney-directed HBO documentary Wise Guy: David Chase and the Sopranos, to a packed Beacon Theatre on the upper west side of Manhattan. What Star Wars means to a Star Wars fan, this documentary is a love letter and an ultimate prized watch for Sopranos fans.

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Filled not just with old audition tapes and the backstory of Chase’s inspiration (it’s all about Momma), Wise Guy gives the warts and all: How HBO CEO Chris Albrecht held an intervention for James Gandolfini with the cast in the exec’s NYC apartment (who would skip work and battle his own demons); the actor tells the suit “Fire me!” Also, why wasn’t there a complete Season 7? It’s revealed by Chase that by doing Seasons 6A and 6B, HBO ducked out from giving the cast pay raises (Gandolifni once paid each cast member $30K apiece.)

Twelve of the castmembers appeared onstage after the screening of the documentary to a huge standing ovation. They appeared alongside Chase, EPs Terence Winter and Matt Weiner, and Gibney.

Here’s some of the memories and tears shared tonight:

Annabella Sciorra (Gloria Trillo, one of Tony’s mistresses): The actress mentioned how she learned after the fact that Chase wanted her for Dr. Melfi. Her agent at the time told the TV creator that the Jungle Fever actress wasn’t interested in TV. Turns out Sciorra was never given the note from Chase.

Steve Buscemi (Tony Blundetto and episodic director): Chase wanted him to direct some episodes for the first season, but he didn’t become available until Season 3. “I watched the pilot episode and didn’t get it. Who are these people? I don’t know if I liked these people.”

Katherine Narducci (Charmaine Bucco, Artie’s wife, the co-owners of Vesuvio restaurant): Breaking down in tears, she reflected on yelling at Gandolfini during shoots and she’d apologize to him before every onscreen fight. Billed by test audiences as the moral compass of the show, she’d ask Chase, “Can’t I be a little nice to him?” He’d say, ‘I knew her well, she wasn’t nice.’ I felt bad yelling at Jimmy because I loved him.”

Michele Chase (Hunter, Meadow Soprano’s best friend and Chase’s daughter): “I thought when Jamie Lynn-Sigler was in the room, I thought she was going to get Meadow. She played every fight I had with my college boyfriend quite well.”

Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior): The writers’ favorite character to write for, “because you can say anything to that character,” said Gibney. Chianese flew in from London tonight for the event. “It gave me a chance to relax — it was like acting in the Bronx, in my own neighborhood,” he said. “I like the fact that he was a grumpy, mean old bastard. It gave me a chance to do some comedy.”

Steve Schirripa (Bobby Bacala) — he believes “The people who got the roles are the people who should have.” The actor shared, “Jerry Stiller, we were told, had the role of Hesh originally. But he took another job and the great Jerry Adler got it. I can’t see anyone playing the roles except for the people who played them.”

Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti): “The show was way better than I remembered. With some distance — how thorough a production it was on every level of the filmmaking.”

Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano): “Jim Gandolfini and I felt like we fell into this relationship that felt like what Tony and Carmella put into it….I believe on some level that we know about ourselves, or families, you’re going to have to make some gigantic change or accept it,” she said about Carmela’s “deal with the devil” in sticking by Tony’s side.

Gibney made a sharp observation atop the convo on how The Sopranos broke the mold in its day for TV. Similar to now, when “you have to perform to an algorithm,” ditto for the same times when the HBO drama series broke ground during a time of “least objectionable programming.”

Exclaimed Gibney, “This is the GOAT of TV series.”

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