Sopranos Final Season

Week 5: Does NBC Have the Scoop on Tony's Murder?
Talking television.
May 8 2007 11:16 AM

Sopranos Final Season

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Dear Tim and Brian,

Here's a small Rao's story: I'm there one night with a group of four FBI agents, having a reasonably good time (even though they spent much of dinner defending J. Edgar Hoover's record on civil rights) when in walk five thick-necked bridge-and-tunnel thugs in mock turtlenecks and floor-length leather coats. They approach two men at the bar—thinner, but even meaner-looking, like Phil Leotardo-mean—and the seven of them start hugging and kissing each other like they're at some Ecstasy-fueled rave. My FBI guys are watching this suspiciously. I ask, "What's going on?" One of the FBI agents says, "What you got there is a just-released-from-jail-party-type-situation going on." Two of the agents then went outside to take down license plates.

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This is what makes Rao's great. Not the sauce, by the way. I actually prefer Paul Newman's.

Did I mention that Woody Allen was at the next table, canoodling with his sort-of-not stepdaughter?

In reference to your game, Tim: Whaddaya doing to us? We're reporters.

We cover the White House. That said, this administration's Johnny Sack is quite obviously ... former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. (Or is he the current secretary of transportation?)

I'm hoping, of course, that Gen. Petraeus turns out to be Johnny Sack, but I have my doubts. And to extend the boundaries of the game a bit, I'm picturing Harry Reid as Artie Bucco. Think about it. I'm having a hard time finding the Paul Wolfowitz in the cast. Not to get too obviously ethnic about it, but is he Hesh?

And speaking of Semites, Tim, did you hear the word tsoris in Sunday's episode? I didn't. How is it that a guy named Williams heard tsoris and one named Goldberg didn't? This is only one of several mysteries to crop up recently. On the Southside Johnny question, I still don't have a clue. I might have to resort to actual reporting to figure this one out.

I have a theory that's suddenly come to me that I have to share: You've noticed, of course, that this Slate dialogue  has an excellent record of placing its participants on the actual show—Leon Wieseltier, and Jerry Capeci, just a couple of weeks ago. (OK, so Leon's appearance in the dialogue came after his appearance on the show, but in my mind it came before.) Here's my theory: I'm beginning to suspect that Brian did not visit the set in order to report on the show but instead to be on the show.

Perhaps to tape a mock newscast announcing the murder of Tony Soprano?

Far-fetched, maybe. Plausible? Yes, I think so. After all, he's the one who pointed out—perhaps to throw people off the trail—that NBC seems uncannily lucky in the product-placement sweepstakes this season.

And yes, I realize that I'm becoming the James Jesus Angleton of Sopranos commentary.

Here's another game for us: Name a network anchor and find the corresponding Sopranos character. Brian, any guesses? Or wishes?

Best,
Jeff

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