TRIVIA: James Gandolfini said that he was often contacted by real-life 'wise guys' complimenting him on the authenticity of the series as well as giving him advice.
After the pilot aired, a real-life "wise guy" told James Gandolfini never to wear shorts again. The encounter seems to have been incorporated into the first episode of season four ("For All Debts Public and Private") when New York mob boss Carmine tells Tony that he'd heard about his recent backyard party, and that "a don doesn't wear shorts".
Four members of northern New Jersey's only real-life mob family, the DeCavalcantes, were secretly taped in 1999 by federal investigators talking about their similarity to the fictional DiMeo/Soprano crime family. On the tape, one NJ mobster asks another, 'Is this supposed to be us?" And his capo buddy replies, "You are in there. They mentioned your name in there'.
Tony Sirico only agreed to sign on for the show if it was guaranteed that his character Paulie 'Walnuts' Gualtieri would not be a "rat", an informant. As Sirico explained in James Toback's documentary The Big Bang (1989), he had served time in prison for robbery. Altogether, Sirico's rap sheet included at least 28 arrests. Reportedly, Sirico also appeared briefly in an uncredited role in The Godfather: Part II (1974).
David Chase had planned a major story line for the third season concerning Tony's efforts to prevent Livia from testifying against him in court. But Nancy Marchand's death caused Chase to revise a large portion of the season.
Before David Chase chose "Woke Up This Morning" by UK band Alabama 3 (from their 1997 debut album "Exile on Coldharbour Lane"), he wanted to open every episode with a different song. HBO executives convinced him that viewers needed to be able to identify the show with a theme song. However, every "Sopranos" episode ends with a different song.
The character 'A.J. Soprano' was ranked #10 in TV Guide's list of "TV's 10 Biggest Brats" (27 March 2005 issue).
Drea de Matteo had to spend four hours in hair and makeup before shooting each episode in order to achieve her "mob girl" look. It took two hours to prepare her hair, and in the instances in which her arms, legs, and/or torso were uncovered, an hour and a half to apply makeup to cover her tattoos.
Many local New Jersey businesses are used as locations in the series. In the opening credits, we see a shot of a pizza shack known as Pizza Land. They get calls for pizza orders from all over the country as a result. In one episode, an actual sporting goods store, Ramesey Outdoor in Paramus, was portrayed as going out of business. So many people thought the real store was closing, the store owners had to place ads to explain they were still open.
Corrado Soprano's nickname, Junior, was taken from the actual nickname used by Tony Sirico when he was a mobster as a young man, before he became an actor.
David Chase was a longtime fan of Steven Van Zandt's music and had always wanted to write a role for him. When Chase saw Van Zandt induct 'The Young Rascals' into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he invited Van Zandt to audition for Tony Soprano even though he had never acted before. Van Zandt did not want to take a role away from a real actor, so Chase wrote the role of Silvio Dante for him. And The Rascals performance footage ended up being featured in 1999's seventh episode, "Down Neck" .
During Seasons 2 and 3, Steve Schirripa had to wear a fat suit in order to play Bobby Bacala.
The large mugshot on the wall of the Bada Bing's office is of 23-year-old Frank Sinatra. In 1938, Sinatra was arrested and charged with 'seduction of a married woman'.
Voted #5 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
Dr. Melfi was named after David Chase's grandmother, Teresa Melfi.
Whenever an actor would go to David Chase to complain about his/her character, arguing the character would never do this or that thing, it has been reported multiple times that Chase would respond: 'Who told you it is your character?'
The writers of The Sopranos carefully researched the ways in which mobsters controlled and laundered their money in order to make Tony Soprano as realistic as possible, and they employed New York assistant district attorney Dan Castleman to advise on this issue. When Castleman was asked how much they had decided Tony would realistically be worth, he stated that it was roughly 5 or 6 million dollars - an amount that fluctuated, of course, because of Tony's substantial gambling problem.