Gail Shister: Falco cried a river over 'Sopranos' demise

Posted: March 28, 2007

It's the beginning of the end for The Sopranos, and Edie Falco is hurting.

Falco, who plays Carmela Soprano on the landmark HBO mob drama, made like the Mississippi at the recent cast reading of Sopranos' swan-song script.

"I cried and cried and cried," says the three-time Emmy winner. "I can be pretty stoic, but I couldn't hold it together. It was intense. I was overcome. I couldn't stop. It was embarrassing."

Off the air since June, Sopranos returns for its final nine episodes beginning April 8. Production on the series finale is expected to wrap next week.

All actors say their castmates feel like family - Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City) and Jennifer Aniston (Friends) come to mind - but Falco says it's the real deal with star James Gandolfini, et al.

"Working with these people all these years, they really have become family in the truest sense of the word. I nauseate myself. They're as much family as any I have ever known."

No surprise, then, that Big Jim leaned over and gave his TV wife a peck during her crying jag. His eyes were still dry, she says, but at least one other wiseguy was weeping. She won't name names "to protect the innocent."

Nobody is innocent on Sopranos. That's why the blogosphere is ablaze with theories about which member of Tony's immediate family, if any, will get whacked this season.

According to entertainment analysts at BetUS.com, boss Tony's odds are 2-1, with Carmela at 3-1. Their kids, Jamie-Lynn Sigler's Meadow and Robert Iler's A.J., are 5-1 and 6-1, respectively.

If it's all over for the long-suffering Carm, Falco would never say it. Under Sopranos mastermind David Chase, all plotlines go into Witness Protection. Actors are sworn to silence.

When your blood-family members are serious Sopranos fans, that's not easy.

"My family really tries. They're funny and adorable," says Falco, 43, a Brooklyn native. "My mother tries to couch questions in different ways. I say, 'Mom, stop. I'm onto you.'

"In the beginning, I couldn't believe I wouldn't tell her. Now I think I'm the best employee the company ever had."

Launched in 1999, Sopranos has won every imaginable TV award, including a Peabody. In '04, it became the first - and remains the only - cable series to score an Emmy for best drama.

"It's the experience of being on this show that I'm proud of," Falco says. "Though we're not curing cancer or ending the war, I am, in fact, doing something of value that people seem to get pleasure out of."

Falco is no stranger to cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in '04, the same year she adopted a baby boy. She named him Anderson, after her mother, actor Judith Anderson.

Health-wise, "I'm totally fine," says Falco. "It's a very big club I'm a member of. I talked to another person with cancer who said, 'Man, a year later, you're bitching about the same stuff.' He was right."

Looking ahead to her next project, Falco says she's reluctant to commit to anything "unless I'm really excited about it. I've been spoiled. My standards are pretty high."

As for a long-rumored Sopranos movie, "I would do it in a heartbeat, but I don't think it's going to happen. David said everything he has to say about these people." Ditto for a Sopranos spin-off.

So what's the legacy of Sopranos?

"People are complicated. When you think you know them, you don't," Falco says. Or, as Gandolfini has said, "Fat men have sex, too."

'Idol' chatter. Just when you thought you couldn't possibly get more American Idol . . .

Fox will expand Idol's Wednesday results show to an hour from 30 minutes, the network announced yesterday.

It will air as an hour at 9 p.m. on April 11 and 18 and May 2. Forthcoming mentors include Gwen Stefani, Tony Bennett, Jennifer Lopez, Martina McBride, Bon Jovi and Barry Gibb.

Normal occupant of the 9:30 Wednesday slot, 'Til Death, starring Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher, will have an hour-long season finale at 8 p.m. April 11. Bones returns to that slot April 18 and May 2.

Fox said the bloating, er, expansion, is per request of the Idol producers, who simply had way much "content" for a mere 22-minute window.


Contact TV columnist Gail Shister at 215-854-2224 or gshister@phillynews.com. Read her recent work at http://go.philly.com/gailshister.

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