The ramp-up of hype for the final eight episodes of the Sopranos officially began last night at Radio City, where the cast, crew, friends and family of HBO’s “mobrama” (that’s “mob” + “drama”) gathered to watch the first two episodes and drink-in the bingy, er, blingy after-party. Just how tough a ticket was it? Denise Borino, who plays “Ginny Sack,” was held up at security outside the red carpet until someone could I.D. her (and she’s not exactly hard to miss). The red carpet was so clogged with cast members — dead and non-dead — Hillary Swank had to enter through the press crew entrance, bypassing it completely. And Jason Kidd‘s allegedly abusive wife Joumana was denied entrance to the after-party.
Inside Radio City, HBO CEO Chris Albrecht called it “our finest hour.” Producer Brad Grey called it “the greatest adult television series of all-time.” (This would be classic Hollywood producer delusion if it weren’t true.) Series creator David Chase nervously fumbled through pages of a semi-prepared speech, thanked the 1,200 actors that have appeared on the show — seemingly all 1,200 of which showed up for the screening — and recounted the moment when he knew the show had reached critical mass: “‘Pussy’ disappeared. We didn’t know where he went — we just knew we put a script to bed and were that much closer to vacation,” Chase said. “When we came back two months later, America said, ‘Where’s Pussy?’ [Our reaction was] ‘Holy shit.’ We had to figure it out.”
Chase then brought out “Pussy” and dozens of cast members to take a final bow. James Gandolfini thanked Chase for bringing a “blue-collar work ethic” to the show, adding that a recent Vanity Fair article “made him look a little dour.”
Following the two-hour screening, partygoers were herded to the after-party at Rock Center’s Sea Grill, while four uniformed NYC cops escorted Gandolfini across the plaza.