short interview with DC in EW

I'm pretty sure this is an exclusive interview with EW that came out a couple of days ago. worth a look. Also added one that appears exclusive to AP

DVD News
Gangsters' Paradise
Talking with David Chase -- The creator of ''The Sopranos'' tells us behind-the-scenes stories about the show
Buzz up!More By Steve Daly Steve Daly
Steve Daly is a senior writer at EW, and also author of's Money Shot columnSeventeen months have elapsed since David Chase — the 63-year-old creator of The Sopranos — slammed the door on America's favorite Mob family with a controversial series-capping cut to black. This week, HBO reissues the show's entire 86-episode run in a massive, 10-pound boxed DVD set. (Chase jokes that it's so heavy, ''you could tie it to someone before you dumped them in the water.'') So what lingering satisfactions and regrets does Chase have about his acclaimed saga? Pull up a chair and tuck in for a remembrance of things pasta.

EW: Is it an ongoing relief to be done worrying about plot leaks?
DC: Yeah, it is. It was awful, that fear. And it was constant.

EW: TV-show collections are huge DVD sellers. Why do you think that is?
DC: It's like pizza or popcorn. You're at home, it's all there. You can just keep eating it. So you do keep eating it. I've never watched television that way. In fact, I only wanted to see The Sopranos on Sunday nights at 9 o'clock [on HBO]. That's the way I was brought up. That's how my family watched Jackie Gleason in The Honeymooners.

EW: Was that enjoyable, tuning in to your own stuff?
DC: I would be a wreck. I would think, My God, this is moving slow. Or: This is too fast. And that's the last time I've seen these shows. I don't go back and watch them.

EW: You've been mum about the ultimate meaning of the show's finale. But in the DVD supplements you do admit that you were partly invoking the finale of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, where Keir Dullea's character watches himself age. Does that onion-rings-at-the-diner scene even actually happen, or is Tony just ruminating?
DC: [Long pause.] There's more than one way of looking at the ending. That's all I'll say. [Laughs]

EW: There's a lot in the DVD set about the show's music, which was nearly all preexisting pop tunes. Why no original score?
DC: When we first started talking budget, I said, I want $50,000 per episode for music clearances. People said, Why? What's that got to do with the Mob? I said, Uhhh, I can't answer that for you. It's just gotta be there.... [But] you can't just slap on a pop song. If I hear ''My Girl'' one more time against a scene with two lovers going out to dinner, I'm gonna go out of my mind.

EW: Any song you couldn't get rights to at any price?
DC: Yeah — the theme from The Godfather. It was for a scene of Tony's crew sitting around watching a bootleg DVD. We wanted the audience to hear that [Nino Rota] music. [Francis Ford] Coppola signed off, but the guy who was running Paramount at the time, Jonathan Dolgen, refused.

EW: What, for you, remains the most innovative thing about The Sopranos?
DC: Here we have network television, this great, commercial medium. And in all its history, what have we never really talked about? Money. And the American obsession with desire and consumption. The first show to do that was The Sopranos. It's about the stuff that takes the place of existential dread.

EW: You've said there's no prospect any time soon, or maybe ever, of a Sopranos movie. So what's next?
DC: I've got a deal to write and direct a movie script for Paramount. I've actually got two main areas I'm interested in, and I'm torn about which one to pursue. I've been Hamlet-ing this decision now for months.

EW: As that battle-ax Livia Soprano would say, ''Oh — poor you.''
DC: [Laughs] I can tell you this: I won't be writing about gangsters.

AP: Have you had a chance to review the old episodes?

Chase: No. I don't really watch the old episodes. (When I did) either I would think that it was pure genius, or I'd start to think, "You know what? We shouldn't have done that." Or, "That should have been faster." Or, "That line wasn't funny enough." Or, "We should have cut to a close-up." That's just what happens.

AP: You've gotten such effusive praise over the years. Vanity Fair called it "the greatest show in TV history." Is that tough, to have this type of acclaim heaped upon something that you've created?

Chase: It's very pleasant. Let me tell you. It's really like a warm bath. But, maybe it's just my nature ... I think it's the nature of a lot of creative artists, that, it's all about the process. The process is never ending if you've actually been involved in the making of it. You always think, "What could have been better? What should have been different?"

AP: Or, who should have been clipped, who shouldn't have been clipped?

Chase: No. Everyone who was clipped should have been clipped (laughs).

AP: Tony's this lovable guy, yet he's still a complete sociopath. He did these horrible things — to the people he loved, to everybody — yet we all were rooting for him the whole time.

Chase: Well, maybe there was another reason why you were rooting for him. Tony's reactions may have been overly severe, and his methods of dealing with (people) may have been cruel, sadistic and brutal, but it may have been that often, what Tony was responding to in that person's behavior was correct, that he was right about what was going on.

AP: What is your next project?

Chase: I'm supposed to be writing a feature that I would write and direct and produce, for Paramount. And I'm supposed to be starting to write next week but instead, I'm here doing this because this is easier than writing. There's one thing I'd like to say, if I could — and it hearkens back to something you asked me about Tony being such a bad guy.

AP: I think I called him a sociopath.

Chase: He is a sociopath. No doubt about it. But, a lot of people said, "You know, we thought that maybe there was a chance that Tony Soprano would turn his life around and in the end there would be some morality to it. And that in the end he would transcend his evilness." And this, to me, is amazing because you wonder, "Do people pay attention to the story?" In Season One, the guy's mother tried to murder him. So, he, of all people, is supposed to rise above that and be happier than he was before that happened? It doesn't make any sense at all. He never got over that.


Re: short interview with DC in EW

I think it's different, no? I got confusy. I put it here because the interviewer and magazine seems to be the same but there's a bunch of other stuff like Chase's sort of regretting Adriana's death being off-screen, his take on the Vito story, how much he likes Mad Men. The stuff on the cut to black seems to be retread of old interviews- he's grossed out by how many people wanted to see Tony dead- though there's a good use of the word linguini in it. Happy Holidays.

Re: short interview with DC in EW

badabellisima wrote:Wow! Quite interesting. i don't have time right now, but maybe someone can cut and paste the interview in so its easier to post on....

It's quite long, but I'll paste it.


EW: Does it give you any pause how many people seem to actually admire Tony Soprano? Is it wrong for people to quote him fondly?

DAVID CHASE: No. I think Tony Soprano had a point once in a while. I think Tony Soprano sometimes said things which were worth thinking about — bad guy and killer that he was. And that he also had some kind of a brain. By that, I don't mean, Some kinda brain! I mean, he had some kind of intelligence.


EW: You've now assembled all the original one-hour shows into one huge package. Would you ever consider reworking or re-editing the material, incorporating bits of cut scenes or creating character galleries that would, say, follow one person through the whole series? It sure worked for Francis Ford Coppola.

DAVID CHASE: I would not go back to them in any way. I've never looked through the shows again. I mean, when it first went on A&E, I happened to stumble across it a couple of times. Or if someone has it playing. But that's only happened like 3 or 4 times.

EW: There's a ''cleaned-up'' version of The Sopranos that airs on cable now. Was it difficult replacing all those f-bombs with things like ''freakin','' and putting body stockings on the Bada Bing dancers, or cutting some of the most extreme violence?

DAVID CHASE: I was not involved in that. It was a whole other company that HBO hired. I had very little — almost zero to do with the syndication. They had people working on that for years.


EW: In the supplements to The Complete Series, there are three brief, funny Sopranos parodies — from The Simpsons, Mad TV, and Saturday Night Live. But you had your own never-realized parody idea, didn't you?

DAVID CHASE: Yeah, we did. I used to bring it up every year, for three or four years. The idea was, we'd do a network version of The Sopranos, and recast it with network-acceptable performers. The only person from our cast who would have made it would be Lorraine [Bracco], but she'd be playing Carmela. They would've kept her because she played a mob wife before, in Goodfellas. There was also an idea to have a main title with network-type music. A lot of color separations and liberal use of freeze-frames and guys running with guns.


EW: What is it about freeze-frames in TV opening credits that has become so trite?

DAVID CHASE: Well, the freeze frame and the zoom lens were all over the place in the late '60s and the '70s. I guess Arthur Penn started a lot of that. Great filmmaker. And I suppose it goes back to Godard and Truffaut too — who knows? But that was picked up by people who weren't as good filmmakers, and it filtered down to television. After a while, it became hackneyed, overexposed. It makes a moment out of something that isn't a moment. I mean, when I worked on The Rockford Files, I think we ended with a freeze frame every time. I thought that was very good, but that was 1976.


DAVID CHASE: There was a stylistic challenge in The Sopranos, which is [that] a lot of what's going what isn't said. I don't just mean that there's subtext. I also mean that a lot of times, characters deliberately don't say anything. You see them with their mouths shut, and that's the reaction. So what they're saying is, ''I hate you. You're so full of s---. How much longer do I have to listen to this.'' A lot of times, we used to cut to a blank expression.


DAVID CHASE: People most of the time don't really talk to each other directly. We really talk in non-sequiturs. I mean, how many times in conversation do you find yourself saying, or thinking about saying, ''What are you talking about'' Or ''What has that got to do with it?'' I find that so much television dialogue doesn't have that [quality]. One person talks, then another one actually responds, right on the nose. People saying exactly what they mean. I have a problem with that.


DAVID CHASE: People used to ask me all the time, ''How do you feel about the way The Sopranos has changed network television?'' And I'd say, I don't think it has at all. But now I feel there is one [sign of] influence, and that's Mad Men. And that's not because Matt [Weiner] worked for me, or 'cause we're friends. It's the content of the show.

EW: How so?

DAVID CHASE: [Longish pause] Because it's not about punishing criminals, or making political points, or pretending to have a debate about American society, or looking through a microscope and finding clues in the carpet, or trying out a new surgery. It's about the actual moment-to-moment job of being alive. And being an adult in America.


EW: People still argue about what the hard-cut-to-black finale of The Sopranos actually means.

DAVID CHASE: I read this blog where people were discussing the ending. ''What does it mean?'' ''Why didn't anybody get whacked? I don't know what happened to Tony...I don't like this...why would David Chase do a thing like this.'' And there was someone who wrote, ''Why would he do it? 'Cause he's just a rich guy who thinks he can do whatever he wants.'' Now wait a minute. What does he mean? What has that got to do with it? Why would that be the reason someone would end his work of 10 years the way he did? It's just angry and bitter and envious.


DAVID CHASE: The only thing about that phenomenon that took place [in reaction to the finale] that I found, what's the word, kind of like, Jesus!, was how much people wanted to see Tony Soprano dead. And I understand it, because it's a gangster story, and he's a bad guy. But he had been people's alter ego for ten years. They had watched him trample over everyone else, and steal and rob and pillage. And now they felt somehow that they needed to see his linguini all over the wall. I was surprised to find out that I liked Tony Soprano more than a lot of other people did.


SPOILER ALERT!!! This entry contains crucial plot points long since divulged — but sensitive nonetheless.

EW: The DVD includes an interview you did with Bryant Gumbel, writer-executive producer Terence Winter, and five other cast members, in which you say you regret keeping the death of Adriana [played by Drea de Matteo] off-screen.

DAVID CHASE: That was a real mistake. Most of the time, we see people ''get it'' — the actual physical damage. But [Adriana] was such an innocent — you didn't want to see someone that sweet go out that way. I guess you could say that's kind of sexist, I don't know. You saw everybody else take those bullet hits. How come not this time? On the other hand, the whole scene was ghastly. Scuttling on her hands and knees past the camera — that was horrible. Some people argue it was maybe more brutal because you didn't see it.


EW: In season 6, you had an amazing character arc for Vito, the gay mobster, which again ended in a grisly death.

DAVID CHASE: That moved me almost to tears when I saw the final show. I just felt so bad for him. Sometimes you're reminded that everybody starts out as a little kid. Whoever, whatever they turn out to be, they start out as innocent little boys and girls. And that one used to make me think about that. I know he was a killer and a gangster and all that, but you just felt really bad for him.


EW: How'd you settle on Alec Baldwin to do two lengthy on-camera interviews of you for the DVD?

DAVID CHASE: I'd seen him give an acceptance speech at the 2007 TCA Awards [the Television Critics Association.] He came up to accept his 30 Rock award [for ''Individual Achievement in Comedy''], and he spent almost no time talking about his own award. He said, I appreciate this [award], but I'm in the same room with people from The Sopranos. [The show won two awards that evening.] He was so effusive from the stage, about his love for The Sopranos, that I thought, ''Well that's probably the guy we should get [to be the interview host].''


EW: So it turns out Baldwin had always wanted to meet you and audition for the show — but got his wish in a bad way...

DAVID CHASE: One day we happened to be at the same restaurant at lunchtime in New York.

EW: But not actually dining together.

DC: Right. He had been late, he had run to make his lunch, and he was completely drenched in sweat — it was the middle of summer. I happened to go into the men's room to take a leak, and there he was like stripped down, sweat pouring out of him and his hair all matted down. He had taken his shirt off, and he was giving himself sort of a sponge bath, in the men's room! So here's the guy that wanted to be on The Sopranos so badly, and who walks into the bathroom while he's doing this but the creator of that show....


EW: What was Baldwin like as an interviewer?

DAVID CHASE: He's amazingly smart. He was also directing those [interview] sessions. I mean, that's the way it turned out. I just let him go. He was saying, ''Are we ready over there? Can we move this thing over, move the camera?''... I was amazed just to watch him. And all I kept thinking while it was going on was, ''I can't wait to work with this guy someday as an actor.'' We'd thought about him [on The Sopranos] for various roles, and then either he wasn't available, or...I also had this rule, about having Italians only to play Italians. Maybe that was stupid in his case, 'cause he's so great.


EW: You never used a composed score on The Sopranos — only existing recordings, and on one occasion, an old tune rerecorded for the show by Bob Dylan. Why that approach?

DAVID CHASE: When I first started working in TV, I worked on The Rockford Files, and Mike Post is a really good composer. I came on as a producer, and I started going to the spotting sessions for music. I kept saying, ''You mean you want one of those mwah-mwah music cues here? Noooo!'' I never liked scored music in television shows. I [wrote] a [TV] movie called Off the Minnesota Strip which had no score. Nothing. It had a few rock & roll tracks, 'cause we couldn't afford much more.


DAVID CHASE: That was my favorite part of making the show. I mean, I loved it all, but my favorite part was post-production — editing and music and then probably specifically choosing that last song.

EW: What was so pleasurable about it?

DC: The process. Going through all the [possible choices] for any given episode [to end with]. Taking a piece of film and putting it up against, I don't know, sometimes a hundred different pieces of music, and seeing the subtle ways it changed or the funny ways or the ridiculous ways, or having three that worked so well you almost couldn't pick.

EW: Whose work showed up most in your early choices?

DC: We could have done the whole show off of Elvis Costello music. The same thing goes for the Stones. But that would have been too easy.


While we did get to see Tony (James Gandolfini) in one of his fevered dreams walking around with a huge woody in his pants inspired by his therapist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), The Sopranos never showed the patient actually smooching his analyst. But such a scene was filmed for — and cut from — the season-one pilot episode. After Melfi prods Tony with questions about ''fear and control issues'' relating to his mother, Livia, he walks across the office and plants one. Says Melfi: ''That is absolutely out of the boundaries of what we do here, Mr. Soprano...[but] I'm not going to kick you out of therapy, so you can stop trying.''


FROM: Season 2, Episode 2, ''Do Not Resuscitate.''

WHAT HAPPENS: Tony's sister Janice (Aida Turturro) visits their mom, Livia (Nancy Marchand), in a medical facility after her alleged stroke. It doesn't go well.

PRICELESS LINES: Janice tells Livia, ''I have come thousands of miles at considerable expense...I'm not gonna let you get rid of me so easily. I am not gonna let you defeat me. I love you too much for that, Ma. Ma?'' Livia's response: A wordless, insolent chomp on a saltine she pulls from her pocket.

WHY IT GOT CUT: Says David Chase, ''Well, it was a case of having too many similar scenes in that episode, of Janice and Livia in the hospital, so it just didn't work. And sometimes it was just time.''

Re: short interview with DC in EW

Thanks for the Cut & Paste JLTucker!

Now about this Chase quote:

Well, the freeze frame and the zoom lens were all over the place in the late '60s and the '70s. I guess Arthur Penn started a lot of that. Great filmmaker. And I suppose it goes back to Godard and Truffaut too — who knows? But that was picked up by people who weren't as good filmmakers, and it filtered down to television. After a while, it became hackneyed, overexposed. It makes a moment out of something that isn't a moment. I mean, when I worked on The Rockford Files, I think we ended with a freeze frame every time. I thought that was very good, but that was 1976.

Would the "cut to black" be considered a freeze frame?

Chase: "It makes a moment out of something that isn't a moment".

Re: short interview with DC in EW

I don't think freeze frames inherently do that and Chase's point is about TV in that era taking something that worked well in French New Wave or similar American films but it gets superficially imitated in TV in a way where it's sort of silly. I think it's already been parodied for a long-time now. I used to love the Naked Gun TV series knock off of it. In fact, in another world, where the freeze hadn't become hacky from overuse, Chase could conceivably have used it in a very effective way. Slo-mo is often abused by others too but I think it was great in the service of Silvio noticing Torciano has just been shot. I also like it when they use it after Carmela tells the teacher she's dating that she's going back to Tony, which is in fact a big moment as she realizes the significance of the decision she just made. Actually, the fact that Chase badmouths using a film technique to arbitrarily make a big thing out of nothing should give anyone real pause about concluding that that was his mindset when making the end of his own series, no? Which is not to say there's no room to see ambiguity in the ending.

These interviews are illuminating as to what Chase is decidedly rejecting from conventional TV. You particularly see him shunning any simplistic moral. This isn't parable. I think the show is largely about self-destruction- irrespective of how you see the cut to black- but the show has no intention to tell you how to feel about that.

*by the way, the part of the interview where he talks about his impulse for showing Adriana's death the way he did (even if he regretted it) and his obvious annoyance at the request from some of his audience to see Tony's dead even though he was their "alter ego", I find very revealing about what led him to make the ending the way he did. Which is: He's a rich guy who can do whatever the fuck he wants. In fact, on the new box set, instead of black, the show ends by cutting to a grinning Chase riding away in a hot air balloon filled with money.
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