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posted: 6/21/2013 5:35 AM

'Sopranos' had a lot in common with MJ's Bulls

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  • The cast of "The Sopranos" was as dominant in the ''90s as Michael Jordan's Bulls team, according to Mike North. From left: Tony Sirico, Steven Van Zandt, James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli and Vicint Pastore. Gandolfini died Wednesday in Italy at age 51.

      The cast of "The Sopranos" was as dominant in the ''90s as Michael Jordan's Bulls team, according to Mike North. From left: Tony Sirico, Steven Van Zandt, James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli and Vicint Pastore. Gandolfini died Wednesday in Italy at age 51.
    AP Photo/HBO file

 
By Mike North
The Rebel Inside

With the NBA playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup run, the struggles of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs and the drama of the U.S. Open, a crazed sports fan like myself has had plenty to watch on TV.

But occasionally even I need a break from watching sports, so about two months ago I was doing some flipping and I hit on channel 503 on Direct TV and saw "The Sopranos" was on.

I decided to watch and soon realized I had almost forgotten what a great show it was. Not only was the talent terrific, but the writing was impeccable. The show was just so unique and well done -- a real trail blazer.

Long before I got into radio broadcasting, I came home from the service and learned I could get my V.A. money from the government if I went to school. So I decided to go to acting school in the 1970s at a place called The Body Politic on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. The founder and instructor was David Mamet, who now is a famous and successful writer, director and producer.

I had visions of being the next Steve McQueen.

I lasted a year at it. It's a tough business and, believe me, very difficult.

With the death of James Gandolfini, we lost a true icon. He was a great actor in many venues, but he nailed the role of Tony Soprano and helped take "The Sopranos" and TV to another level.

During its run, there was nobody bigger in television. I started watching and enjoying "The Sopranos" episodes again over the last couple of months, and remembered how much I enjoyed it the first time around. Gandolfini was even better than I recalled, and he did an unbelievable job.

While Kobe Bryant was running the NBA, "The Sopranos" were on. Through many of Tiger Woods' triumphs, "The Sopranos" were playing to 10 million cable subscribers a week. While LeBron James was learning his craft as a youngster, Gandolfini just kept getting it done.

So the other night I was watching an episode and I thought it's almost time for a Sopranos movie to be made to fix what was the worst finale in television history -- at least to me.

It would be guaranteed blockbuster, I thought.

Of course, that will not happen now, but we will have all of Gandolfini's performances on camera and you can be sure there will be plenty of "Sopranos" episodes on TV to watch.

Gandolfini and "The Sopranos" franchise were like Michael Jordan and the Bulls during the 1990s -- unstoppable and brilliant.

Gandolfini died way too soon, and outside of Larry Hagman as JR Ewing on "Dallas," there was no bigger and more iconic role on TV.

Congratulations

The Ed Kelly Sports Program will present the 39th Annual Giant Awards dinner on Monday night at the White Eagle. Honorees include celebrity watcher Bill Zwecker, former DePaul star Tom Kleinschmidt and Loyola University basketball legend Jerry Harkness, among others.

Program notes:

Catch me on "Mancow" on WPWR Ch. 50 at 6 a.m. Friday, Monday and Wednesday.

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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