MONTVILLE, NJ – TV critic and Rolling Stone magazine writer Alan Sepinwall was at the Montville Township Library in September to talk about not only his relationship with the TV show “The Sopranos,” but to do some Montville reminiscing.
Sepinwall, who is a Pine Brook native and Montville Township High School graduate of the class of 1992, said show creator David Chase grew up in Caldwell, and because he spent many years writing about the show, he and Chase would reminisce about the tie-ins to Sopranos, which often filmed in Morris County locations in Morris Plains and Boonton.
“We would talk about the old flea market on Route 46, and the Steve Buscemi character set up a massage parlor in the strip mall in Caldwell where Book World used to be,” he said. “I love doing events in my home town because everyone knows these references.”
He said his editor when he worked at the Star Ledger, TAPinto columnist Mark DiIonno, went to college with Sopranos star James Gandolfini, and is rumored to have put the dent in Gandolfini’s forehead during horseplay.
Sepinwall discussed how “The Sopranos” changed the face of television.
“Before, there were rules about TV: you made it easy to follow, you didn’t upset anybody, and you didn’t make the main character unlikeable, because the audience wasn’t going to watch that,” he said.
Chase wanted to change this when Paramount Studios came to him requesting a TV version of “The Godfather.” HBO made the pilot and Chase didn’t think it would become a show, Sepinwall said, but it did.
“At first people were comparing it to Billy Crystals’s ‘Analyze This’ movie,” he said. “But in the fourth episode, Gandolfini’s character strangled someone on camera. Now you have someone who is different. It changed everything. The conversation around TV changed.”
Sepinwall was asked what his favorite TV shows were, but he said there’s so much choice that it really hinges more on what the person asking likes, and then he extrapolates from there.
His mom also attended the seminar, and she said it’s important to support extra-curricular activities, because they had contributed to her son’s success. She said her son worked on the yearbook at Lazar, and plays and forensics at the high school.
“My big high school activity was forensics, and I see [former advisor] Ms. Gormley [in the audience],” Alan Sepinwall said. “I’m a writer and I’m most comfortable behind a keyboard but I can also speak extemporaneously because of forensics training. Newspapers, libraries, plays and sports are great to support.”
Sepinwall is the author of seven books about television. To read about "The Sopranos" prequel movie, click here.
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