songlife1 wrote:I think a better way to handle Frank's appearances would be to exclude him entirely, and have Tony talk to an empty chair where Phil would normally be sitting. A chair is wooden and stiff by design and would require far less money to be that way onscreen than Frank Vincent, who charges money for his acting services, but is as stiff and wooden as the chair. Tony would speak, they'd cut to the empty chair and silence, and Gandolfini would then have the opportunity to show his natural creativity and passionate emotions in his responses. This fits in perfectly with the occasional surreality of the show. Phil Leotardo would be credited as "The Chair".
I believe Chase is aware of Vincent's robotic acting, and he made us aware of his awareness in The Test Dream, in the scene where Tony points his finger at Phil as if it were a gun. This was Chase's way of saying, "Yes fans, I know I made a mistake by hiring a bad actor like Frank on a show filled with great actors. I'd like to kill him off, but now he's become too involved in the plot. So I'll kill him off in this dream episode, with a nonexistent gun, to illustrate that concept. It's symbolic of what I, the creator of the show, would like to do to Frank Vincent in reality. In an outtake, I actually pointed my finger at him as he lay on the street, under the guise of showing the actor how I wanted it done. Secretly, I was living out my fantasy. It was a therapeutic experience for me and allowed me to continue dealing with this robotic actor, even knowing that I should've hired a chair in his place."
In a later episode Phil was only heard through a window, which shows that Chase's patience with Vincent is running out. This is sort of a spoiler, but I heard that in the next show, Phil accidentally drinks an invisibility potion and is not seen or heard on screen at all. Tony will be talking to an empty chair and respond as if he'd heard Phil talking. I understand this is the episode that the chair is sending in for Emmy consideration. Vincent has not been officially fired, but was given a lovely new set of golf clubs and a free membership to his local course, as well as a brochure containing info on local acting schools. My sources tell me Vincent was not upset by this because he's been asleep since 1996. Cast members were heard to mutter, "That explains a lot." James Gandolfini was said to be in quite a celebratory mood, complete with party hat and tooter, exclaiming "I told 'em they shoulda got De Niro for that part, but I guess the chair is an improvement over Frank. And what was wrong with Curatola anyway, that they had to replace him with a robot?"
I'm really hoping this entire post was just a joke. Vincent is playing the part very well.