October 24, 2008 Jill

The Paley Center for Media has a great collection of videos available to be screened on line and the audio of some of the programs is available for download from Audible (for $1.97 each).  This week I listened to a program called The Whacked Sopranos.  It was a panel discussion with David Chase, Terence Winter and a number of cast members who had been whacked including Steve Buscemi (Tony Blundetto) and Drea de Matteo (Adriana La Cerva) focused on the theme of murder in the show.  Moderator Bryant Gumbel is a little trying but other than him the program is a good listen.

One of my favourite quotes from Chase comes near the beginning of the program. Gumbel notes that the original pilot script for the Sopranos didn’t include any killing and asks at what point Chase decided to make murder part of that first script.

Fox passed on the script… About six months later I realized, shmuck, you didn’t have anyone killed.  It’s a mob thing.  This is what people go to those movies for.

Development is a process.  Even a writer as talented and experienced as David Chase doesn’t get it right the first time round.  He was deep into development, had written a pilot script, been rejected by the network and half a year had gone by before he hit on what would become a major component of his series: the violence.

Another quote from Chase I love is about the role murder plays in Sopranos storytelling:

If it was just cannon fodder — mow people down every week, it would have no impact whatsoever.  The whole impact comes from the fact that you’re emotionally invested in the story and the characters.  Then their death — whether it’s by suicide, natural causes or by murder — has meaning.

The program is an hour, a little long for me on video at the computer, but perfect for my iPod.  I’m also checking out the Paley Centre’s programs featuring David Milch, JJ Abrams on character, the Veronica Mars staff and others.

Comment (1)

  1. Kazza

    This is a fabulous resource. Just watching the 30 Rock interview now. Thanks!

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