NJ viewers will see familiar scenes
“You woke up this morning. You got yourself a gun. Mom always said you would be the chosen one …”
Fans of “Sopranos” will immediately recognize these lyrics as the song debut by British band Alabama 3, which kicked off every episode of the HBO mafia drama that spanned six seasons from 1999-2007.
For years, fans have waited for writer David Chase to continue the story of the main character, Tony Soprano. Well, now the wait is over except this is not a sequel to the series.
It’s a prequel to “The Sopranos,” which marked a turning point in television history, paving the way for shows like “Breaking Bad,” said Stephen Gorelick, executive director of New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission.
When it comes to what “The Sopranos” has done for New Jersey, Gorelick said it has made the state the go-to place to shoot movies and TV shows. He called it the “calling card” of the state that ushered in other productions such as “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Oz”.
The prequel, “The Many Saints of Newark,” which debuts in theaters and on HBO Max this Friday, October 1, uses the 1967 riots (or “rebellion,” as many locals now call it) as backdrop of tensions between the Italian-American and black communities.
Gorelick said the story follows Tony Soprano into his teenage years, when his uncle and family are embroiled in a violent gang war.
New Line Cinema and HBO’s “The Many Saints of Newark”, a Warner Bros. release. Pictures, is directed by Alan Taylor and written by Chase and Lawrence Konner.
Just as “The Sopranos” was filmed in homes, stores, restaurants and other local establishments throughout New Jersey, Chase returned to the Garden State to film “The Many Saints of Newark” in the counties of New Jersey. ‘Essex and Passaic.
Gorelick said fans will recognize many iconic locations from the series, including:
Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionary in Bloomfield, which appeared in the last episode of the series;
Satriale’s Pork Store, originally located in Kearny but recreated in Paterson because the old one was demolished;
Branford Place and Halsey Street;
The old Adams Theater;
Hobby’s Delicatessen in Newark;
And the Bendix Diner in Hasbrouck Heights.
Besides some original locations, there are also new filming locations.
Gorelick said the cast was superb, starting with the main character. The young version of Tony is played by Michael Gandolfini, son of “Sopranos” star James Gandolfini, who suffered a heart attack while traveling in Italy in June 2013. He was 51 years old.
“Seeing Michael Gandolfini in there absolutely haunts me,” Gorelick said. But a natural choice, of course.
Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Ray Liotta, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, Michela DeRossi, John Magaro and Vera Farmiga complete the cast.
New Jersey has “The Many Saints of Newark” not only because of the cooperation of the production companies, but also because of the incredible incentive program the state put in place in 2018, Gorelick said.
“We create jobs and we create income for businesses and that is our reason for being,” he said.
Other movies in New Jersey
Gorelick also touted the many future film shoots in New Jersey, including one titled “Jewels,” starring Ben Kingsley. He said Russell Crowe was returning to The Garden State where he won an Oscar for “A Beautiful Mind”. Crowe is making a movie called “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” starring Zac Efron and Bill Murray. Originally from Orange South, Zach Braff is also returning to make a feature film.
There are a lot of productions in the works, Gorelick said. The New Jersey Film and Television Commission is having the busiest fall and year ever, he added, having recovered from the pandemic year of 2020 when production was arrested in the state, across the country and around the world.
Gorelick offered one final piece of advice before heading to the movies on Friday to see “The Many Saints of Newark”. He said it was helpful to have seen the series “The Sopranos” before the prequel, as the prequel explains the family conflicts that have arisen throughout the series.
It’s six seasons to watch before Friday. Start watching excessively!