‘Sopranos’ tour pays tribute to James Gandolfini


The funeral for James Gandolfini will be held Thursday at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City. An HBO spokeswoman speaking on behalf of Gandolfini’s family says the funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Associated Press

The “Sopranos” tour bus made its weekly run past dozens of North Jersey show sites on Saturday, just as it has been doing for more than a decade.

But Wednesday’s death of 51-year-old star James Gandolfini — whose Tony Soprano is one of television’s most memorable characters — made this four-hour ride different for the 51 tourists who came from such places as England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and Hungary.

“It’s a bit somber, isn’t it?” said Layla Razzak of London as she stood on Kearny Avenue, near the site of the fictitious Satriale’s Pork Store, during the second of the tour’s four stops.

Her friend, Stacey Haid, also of London, agreed.

“It’s hard to even watch clips of the show now,” Haid said.

But like more than 40 of the bus riders, they had already booked the tour before the news of Gandolfini’s death — and many didn’t know if they’d ever get another chance to tour the Sopranos landscape. So they readily agreed to take the advice of tour guide Marc Baron — an actor who had several minor roles during the course of the series — to “celebrate James’ life.”

A highlight of the $46 tour — during which Baron pointed out scene locations in Jersey City, Harrison, Newark and other sites in between trivia questions and video clips — was a visit to Holsten’s ice cream parlor in Bloomfield.

That was the site of the enigmatic final scene of the series, and most in the group took the chance to be photographed at the booth where the final scene of the HBO series was filmed. This time, the booth was adorned with a bouquet of flowers, an attached card that read, “Rest in Peace, James Gandolfini. Love, Holsten’s,” and a newspaper front page noting Gandolfini’s passing.

Tour bus riders — they start in midtown Manhattan and quickly get to observe sights from the show’s famed opening scenes — typically aren’t allowed to take any photos inside Satin Dolls, the Lodi strip club on Route 17 that was known as the “Bada Bing” on the show.

But management this time allowed photos of a modest memorial at “Tony’s spot” in the club - where a framed photo of a downcast Tony Soprano was placed above a “SOPRANOS” New Jersey license plate and two black T-shirts bearing the real or fictitious name of the club.

Tour guest Dominic Mastri of Scranton, Pa.,

who called himself a “huge fan” of the show, tried to make the best of the situation.

“This is the first time I got my wife to go to a strip club,” Mastri said.

But he added, “I was always hoping that someday there would be a Sopranos movie. That’s what makes this all so bittersweet.”