NEW YORK—“I have no idea what happened to Tony,” actor James Gandolfini said Thursday night, standing aboard The Highlander, the Forbes family yacht at Pier 60 on Manhattan’s West Side.
“You have to ask (“The Sopranos” creator) David Chase that. Smarter minds than mine know the answer to that. I thought it was a great ending. You decide.”
Gandolfini was joining most of the cast of “The Sopranos” for a fund-raising cruise to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital—Tony (Paulie Walnuts) Sirico’s pet charity.
The stars defended the ending—which had the screen cut to black as Tony’s family sat down to dinner—even if not all of the actors understood it.
“I have no idea why I had so much trouble parallel parking at the end,” said Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who played Meadow Soprano.
“It was on the page, and like always, I played what was written. But I loved the ending. I can’t think of a single better way to have ended this show.”
Edie Falco, who played Tony’s wife, Carmela, said that after a sad goodbye, it was nice to have the old gang together for charity. “No one says no to Tony Sirico,” she said. “But I don’t think it will be long before we all see each other again.”
Was she talking about a hotly rumored movie that would clear up the ending many fans felt was too ambiguous?
“God, no,” Falco said. “I don’t mean that. I think the ending was just great. I mean that. I have never second-guessed David Chase, and I’m not about to start now.”
“Yes, I was at that table, but I have no idea what happened after the screen went blank.”
Sirico couldn’t understand the criticism of the finale.
“I thought the ending was outstanding. We got Phil Leotardo. We went back to our lives,” he said. “What do people want? More blood? A whole family whacked? I like that David Chase let the viewers decide.”
Aida Turturro, who played Tony Soprano’s erratic sister, Janice, floated two theories as she wobbled across the lolling money-green yacht.
“Tony and Bobby talked a few episodes back about how when you finally get hit, you never see it coming and the world just goes black,” she said.
“The other one is that they just live their lives as a family, and we just left them in the middle of their lives.”
Like Turturro, Steven Van Zandt, who played Silvio, was glad the ending kept viewers—and castmates—guessing.
“A conventional ending would have been a fraud,” said Van Zandt, a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
“Life doesn’t have tidy little endings. Even some great songs just fade out like the last episode of `The Sopranos.’”
“But on my Sirius radio show, I see the opinions shifting across the country. It started out fifty-fifty, and by last night, it was eighty-twenty in favor of the ending.
“It’s also a lie that we shot three or four endings. David Chase, who wrote and directed the last episode, did one ending. He knew what he wanted, and it was great. Like the show.”
Billionaire Steve Forbes stood at the door of the family yacht donated for the night and greeted all the stars and guests, who paid $500 a head to climb aboard.
“I have no idea what happened to Tony Soprano,” Forbes said. “I do know that when it ended, I threw around several four-letter words like Tony Soprano would have and thought my cable went out.”
“I hope the creator, David Chase, rushes the movie into production because I want to know how it ended.”
Gandolfini insisted he didn’t have an inside line on that.
“The ending was exactly what it should have been,” he said. “Don’t look at me, I don’t have an answer. All I know is that it’s over.”
// Channel Surfing
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