MAKING IT WITH MARC PART 3: SOPRANOS STORIES
The popular HBO series The Sopranos turns 20 years old in just one week! To celebrate this milestone, we’ll be sharing some Sopranos content and a behind the scenes look at the Sopranos Sites Tour throughout the years. Marc Baron, long time Sopranos Sites tour guide, tells us some stories from the Sopranos set in the third of four blog posts. Catch up on the first two here and here and then read on…
One day I was called to be a stand-in and told to also wear a white shirt and black pants because I would be used later in the day as an extra. The scene was where Carmela and Meadow had tea at the Plaza Hotel, which was filmed at the real location.They decided they needed a “featured background” waiter. I was to be the waiter bringing them a tea service. The Plaza requires that anything filmed there is true-to life. Tea service is very involved. You carry multiple items and there’s a very specific way of serving. I spent an hour with the manager until he felt I was good enough, so we got to work.
Take 1: I approach the table carrying these items, doing all the service, when the director cuts. He said it was too busy and distracting, that I should just put something on the table and walk away. The manager then jumped in and the two argued it out for about a half hour. New agreement, I could just put something on the table.
Take 2: As I approached the table Edie Falco (Carmela) began to ad lib dialogue, saying things to me that would require me to answer back…. which then require me to get a day-player salary/contract/residual payment. The director cut and made it clear I could not talk. We did it again – she did it again…and again…and on take 5 she shrugged her shoulder and said “I tried.”
Sometime while season 5 was airing, I was leading a tour and we began our walk through downtown Kearney. We were stopped across the street from Satriale’s, the pork store. It wasn’t real. It was an old, empty building that was leased and made into a pork store. Everything on or in it was fake – called set dressing. At this time, I was doubling for Frank Vincent who played Phil Leotardo.
As I began to talk about the location and the scenes filmed there, several location crew members were working on the building and spotted us. As they approached one of them spotted me and said, “Hey, I know you!” Uh oh. I was marked, like Jimmy Bones in the Party Store scene with agent Lipari and Big Pussy. BUT, they were super friendly and invited about 30 of us to tour inside the pork store. The only time this ever happened. I thanked them as we left. About 10 days later I was back on the set when the same crew members approached me during breakfast, chatting a little about the tour in a friendly manner. I knew I needed to keep that quiet and change the subject. It was the last day I ever did the show. I am convinced that these guys mentioned to someone else that I was doing the tour and, when word got around, I was no longer welcome on set.
I remembered sending a note to David Chase through the production office, joking about how I’ve been ‘discovered’. I even suggested creating a simple character – a tour guide – to be whacked. Didn’t happen, BUT … I recall one episode where there was a shot of a tour bus in a Manhattan scene… where it didn’t… belong. Like a dead fish in newspaper, to me it was a sign.
Since the show ended production I was able to keep in touch with some of the actors. Joe Gannascoli still comes to the tour – not every one, but a majority of them – and he has been involved with my film project, MegaBall$, from early on. Matt Servito – Agent Harris – served on the SAG board with me for a while. Vincent Pastore – Big Pussy – has kept in touch not only via Facebook, but I’ve seen a few plays with him. David Proval – Ritchie Aprile – I run into occasionally, also saw him in a few plays. I attended a Writer’s Guild Rally where I met-up with Edie Falco (Carmela), David Proval…. and David Chase.
It was good run for everyone involved, opening doors and expanding careers for many, all while being a part of television history. Not a bad gig…