When we called to inquire about On Location Tours‘ latest offering — a trip to New Jersey spots used in ”The Sopranos” — we were warned. ”It lasts three hours,” a company rep told us. ”We go all over Jersey — including the Bada Bing — and then at the end we throw your body into the East River.” Sold! EW ponied up $30 and boarded the bus one Sunday afternoon for a hit and miss tour of Tony’s stomping grounds.
2:20 LIP SERVICE It looks good for us. Chris Lucas, our leader, isn’t just an expert on ”The Sopranos” — he’s actually been on the show! (Okay, as an extra.) Plus, he’s honed his skills conducting the Manhattan TV Tour, which includes sites featured in ”Friends” and ”Seinfeld.” So imagine our shock when we first get a load of the visual aids. ”Anyone know who this is?” Lucas asks, brandishing a picture of Adriana (Drea de Matteo) that’s been glued onto construction paper and labeled with a Sharpie. What’s even more frustrating is that Lucas can’t seem to stay in a focused Mob mentality. During the de Matteo lecture, for example, he discusses ”Happy Days,” Urkel from ”Family Matters,” and the importance of being an extra. ”People say ‘Being an extra is no good’ but my feeling is, you’re on the set, you’re learning — so if I ever do get called to do a principal role, I’ll know my way around…” We feel one of Tony’s blackouts coming on.
2:38 TONY, GET YOUR GUN Oddly enough, things get better in the Lincoln Tunnel, when we listen to the ”Sopranos” theme song…just like Tony in the opening credits!
3:48 SATRIALE’S, SORT OF Lucas offers this upon our arrival at Tony and company’s hangout, the pork store Satriale’s: ”The pig won’t be [on the roof] like it is on TV,” he says. Hearts break; cameras pause midair. ”It’s not like it is in the show.” Now, there’s an understatement, given the bars on the windows and the single cartoon pig taped up inside. Still, Philadelphia investment adviser Michael DeMaio is videotaping the scene as if it were his daughter’s dance recital. ”I’ll get an hour out of this footage,” says a chuckling DeMaio, adding happily, ”I just learned that my family name is the same as the family that started Tony’s [crime] business!” (For the less obsessive fan, the book ”The Sopranos: A Family History” reports that Tony’s family inherited their organization from the DiMeo clan of Naples.)