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How ‘Seinfeld’ Influenced ‘The Sopranos’

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Whenever we think of Seinfeld and The Sopranos, we think of them as two completely different shows. Both of them had a massive influence on television. One is an iconic sitcom that changed the way people looked at comedy on television. Meanwhile, the other brought forth the golden era of television. But, did you know that Seinfeld also had an influence on The Sopranos? Yes, that’s the case according to Sopranos star Al Sapienza.

How Seinfeld brought Al Sapienza on The Sopranos

How Seinfeld Influenced The Sopranos
HBO © | NBC ©

Sopranos actor Al Sapienza, who played the role of Mikey Palmice in the HBO Original, recently appeared on the Talking Sopranos podcast. While talking to the hosts, Al narrated a very interesting story which told how Seinfeld was able to trigger a series of events that would land him the memorable role in the first season of The Sopranos. It began with him stating how he lived in Los Angeles for a while:

I was in LA from ’82 to ’98, as soon as I got The Sopranos I wanted to get the hell outta there.

There, he played a few roles in equity theatres, which famously have only 99 seats. Al was performing on the play “Misconduct Allowed” in 1992. That was when in the next room, Seinfeld star Jason Alexander was doing “Truman”. The two of them shared the same dressing rooms and thus, became good friends. Al then said that in 1998, he was invited to the premiere of Godzilla, in which he had a minor role. His agent from LA suddenly called him, saying:

Jason Alexander wants you to read for this movie called Cherry Pink.

Auditioning for Alexander resulted in a chance of a lifetime

This was the first movie Alexander directed after the end of Seinfeld. However, the audition did not turn out well for him, as Al continued:

It was the first movie he directed after Seinfeld. So, I’m all excited, I was in New York for the screening. I’m going to the audition and usually, I know who I’m reading for and do my research. I didn’t know who the casting director was. So, I go in and read for Jason I’m all excited. And I knew at the end of the meeting I wasn’t going to get the role.

Despite the disastrous audition, the casting director Georgianne Walken pulled Al aside and asked him if he was interested in doing a series. What Al didn’t know was that the series Georgianne was talking about was none other than The Sopranos. And so, the link between Seinfeld and David Chase’s Sopranos was finally established. Al Sapienza got a chance to watch the pilot, and he was left awestruck. He said:

I was stunned… and then I got nervous. I was like this is like a Scorsese movie this frigging thing.

Al then gave two auditions in front of David Chase, and within two days, they cast him as Mikey Palmice. And so, Seinfeld was able to influence the casting of a particular character in The Sopranos. And this is the story of how two iconic shows who changed television forever, managed to influence each other.

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