Leon Wieseltier and Jerry Capeci in the Same Dialogue?

Mob Experts on The Sopranos, Week 4

Leon Wieseltier and Jerry Capeci in the Same Dialogue?

Mob Experts on The Sopranos, Week 4

Leon Wieseltier and Jerry Capeci in the Same Dialogue?
Talking television.
March 29 2004 2:02 PM

Mob Experts on The Sopranos, Week 4

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Jerry, Leon:

I don't know. Jerry Capeci and Leon Wieseltier in the same Sopranos dialogue: This is surely a sign of the End Times ("And the Bensonhurst mob reporter shall lie down with the Flatbush lit critic ...")

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Let me take in seriatim—as they might say, in a slightly different context, in the back room of the Bing—the variously profound and banal points made this morning:

1) Leon—a martini? What's a martini? I always pictured you more as a bottle of slivovitz (Whoa, there I go again, the parochial Goldberg, resorting as ever to crude tribal signifying). It's a television term, yes? Also, you did such a thorough job imagining the interior life (such as it is) of Stewart Silverman. I sensed that your lines came from a very deep place; I just didn't know how deep.

2) On the subject of Edie Falco, Leon, I suggest you back off. What's so bad about crushing earnestness, anyway? And I don't think I've seen any dispositive evidence proving that Carmela is fatally hypocritical. There's a season and a half to go, after all, and she's confessed her horror—to priests and psychiatrists, if my memory is true—about Tony's hellish work. You write that she hasn't acted on what she knows about him in ways that deprive her of Tony's money. Well, what's she supposed to do? Have Adriana drive her to FBI headquarters? If she did that, people like Jerry Capeci would accuse David Chase of jumping the shark. By the way, Jerry's discourse raises an interesting question about Adriana's future—if The Sopranos continues to hew to reality, Adriana can't possibly escape her predicament alive, except as a resident of the federal Witness Security Program.

3) I'll admit, I was blinded by the cleverness of the Get-Feech Trap. Now that Jerry points out the unreality of it, all has become clear. A mob boss would never send a made man—especially a legend like Feech—to jail. When I was last in Iraqi Kurdistan, I heard a story about a tribal leader who had captured, after many years, his mortal enemy, another great tribesman. He had his rival tied to a tree, then fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the man's chest. This was done out of respect. A handgun or a rifle wouldn't do—a great man deserved to be executed by a great weapon. Same principle at work here; Feech should have been shot in the chest (most definitely not in the face), not packed off to jail.

4) Jerry, I think you've got to cut Leon some slack. He did meet people on the set he didn't like. Yes, he finds Michael Imperioli charming (and he even likes your Lorraine Bracco, which I thought would please you to no end, except maybe you'd like to see her unreserve her eros), but he does call Peter Bogdanovich risibly self-important. And he's blistering on Edie Falco, and says, after careful observation, that he wouldn't care to know Gandolfini.

5) Of course I remembered the Granato story. Tell us, Jerry, what else have the gonifs at The Sopranos stolen from you?

6) Gonifs?

7) I'm buying Leon's defense of the Jewish wedding scene as a sign of Jewish normalization, and equal-opportunity stereotyping, rather than as a sign of Jew-hatred on cable television. And I've spoken to Mel Gibson and Yasser Arafat about this as well, and they also see no indication of anti-Semitism on The Sopranos.

Best,
Jeff

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror.