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Italian-American groups protest 'Sopranos'

From Dick Uliano
CNN Radio

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Not everyone is happily looking forward to Sunday's fourth season premier of HBO's popular series "The Sopranos."

One of the nation's largest and oldest organizations of Italian-Americans, the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), has condemned the series for presenting "an unreal picture of the Italian-American family."

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Another Washington-based group that promotes Italian-American heritage, the National Italian American Foundation, is asking HBO to televise a disclaimer before or after each "Sopranos" episode, stating that the series is "not representative of the 25 million Americans of Italian heritage."

Both groups claim the critically acclaimed series about a dysfunctional Mafia family damages the image of Italian-Americans.

OSIA Deputy Executive Director Dona De Sanctis charges that the series is particularly harmful to the self-image of Italian-American children. De Sanctis says her group regularly receives complaints from members accusing the "The Sopranos" of inspiring schoolyard taunting of children with Italian surnames.

But HBO spokeswoman Michelle Boas points out that the cast of "The Sopranos" "consists almost entirely of Italian-Americans" and she says they would not take part in a series "that disparages their heritage."

Boas adds that "The Sopranos" executive producer and creator David Chase is an Italian-American, who is "quite sensitive to the issue of stereotyping."

"The Sopranos" "is certainly well done and popular," according to National Italian American Foundation executive director John Salamone, but Salamone says the "image is not positive for Italian-Americans."


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