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Getting the scoop on the ''Sopranos'' finale!

Help the Glutton try to melt into the background at the N.J. ice cream parlor where Tony and Co. take their last licks. Plus: slinging mud at ”Wild Hogs,” idolizing five Idols, and your mail on ”Star Wars”

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Getting the scoop on the ”Sopranos” finale!

There’s been a bit of a brouhaha in the Garden State for the past week. I know because it centers around a Bloomfield ice cream parlor about two miles away from my house in Montclair. The place is called Holsten’s. Holsten’s has been around forever. It has homemade ice cream, chocolates, and pretty much every other sweet your heart desires. My daughter Violet is allergic to eggs, so we make all our cakes ice cream cakes and order them from Holsten’s. Apparently, I’m not the only person with an affinity for the place. Word is Sopranos creator David Chase — who grew up in nearby Clifton — also went there a lot as a kid and wants to film the final scene of the final episode of The Sopranos there.

Problem is, the town of Bloomfield is not so sure it wants The Sopranos. At first, the town council approved the shoot, but then mayor Raymond McCarthy stepped in, and, along with Italian-American organizations, got the council to reverse their own decision. Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenz — an Italian-American himself — stepped in and insisted the show must go on! He stopped by for a nice photo op at Holsten’s while claiming that ”it’s about the arts, it’s about TV,” which maybe would have come out sounding better had his sweeping defense of the television landscape not also put him in the potentially awkward position of having to defend shows like The Littlest Groom.

In any event, as of now, it looks like the HBO mob drama will be able to film at Holsten’s after all. Which means it’s time for me to start scheming. Because let’s face it, if one of the most important television shows in history is going to film its final scene so close to my pad, I need to do everything in my power — which granted, is not that considerable — to get on that set. Now, it should be pointed out that I have been lucky enough to be on set of The Sopranos twice before for a cover story I wrote last spring: once on location at the Irvine Cozzarelli Memorial Home in Belleville, and another time on the sprawling sets at Silvercup Studios in Queens (where all the interiors for Tony’s house, Dr. Melfi’s office, Satriale’s, and various other locations are filmed). Usually I hate going on sets. It is tedious, everyone treats you like crap, and you kinda feel like the dorky new kid in school who doesn’t quite fit in or know what’s going on. But The Sopranos was different. Everyone I met was super cool. Edie Falco was preposterously nice, Little Steven and I gabbed about garage music, Aida Turturro offered to share her lunch, director Tim Van Patten kept trying to move me to a warmer spot so my bony ass didn’t freeze to death, and writer Terence Winter told funny stories about working with 50 Cent. It’s also probably the only set I’ve ever been on that made my dad — who grew up in Newark — jealous.

So I got a taste of the Sopranos lifestyle. And it tasted good. Getting on set for the final scene would be a feast of epic proportions. But partaking in said feast will not be easy. You see, David Chase is perhaps the most spoilerphobic person in the world. (Not that I blame him. If I held the keys to that kingdom, I’d probably hide them from even myself.) Trying to pull plot points out of Chase is next to impossible, so getting official access to the final scene? Not bloody likely. Assuming he puts the kibosh on that request, I need some backup plans for infiltrating the ice cream store. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Get a job at Holsten’s.
Nah. I’m far too lazy to do that.

Bribe someone.
C’mon, this is Jersey! This is The Sopranos! How appropriate would it be to gain entry thanks to a few greased palms. Only two problems: First off, I’ve never bribed anyone in my life and am not really sure how to do it. How do you approach someone without pissing them off and getting yourself Ralph Cifaretto’d? Also, what’s the appropriate amount to be offering? I tried to barter once on my honeymoon in Bali, and it was a nightmare. What makes me think I would be any better at this? Which brings us to point two: I am not a rich man. I don’t exactly walk around with a huge wad of $100 bills like Tony Soprano, and if I did, I’d be more inclined to buy a lifetime supply of Milwaukee’s Best than hand it off to some dude who may or may not be about to bash my head in.

Flash my EW business card and scream, ”Don’t you know who I am?!?”
Yeah, that always works. The main problem being, most people don’t have any clue who I am. And if they did, they still wouldn’t care.

Steal the Holsten’s Eatser Bunny costume.
Every Easter, Holsten’s breaks out a raggedy pink Easter Bunny costume and has some dude walk around frightening little children. The alleged Sopranos scene is supposed to be shot at the end of month, so if I can locate said costume and then pretend to be a Holsten’s staffer getting ready for the big Easter crush, maybe I can gain entry. Granted, a pink bunny costume probably is not the type of thing you usually see in The Sopranos, but maybe I could talk David Chase into rewriting the scene into another Tony dream sequence.

Pack heat and bust up the place like Jackie Aprile Jr. did to Eugene Pontecorvo’s poker game.
The good: They might respect the ambition much in the same way Tony and Jackie Sr. ended up on the fast track to getting made after robbing Feech La Manna’s game. The bad: I’d probably get myself killed, or worse, wind up in jail.

Okay, so I obviously have some work to do in figuring this whole thing out. But come Jan. 10, if you find yourself watching HBO at about 9:58 p.m. and see either a pink bunny or a pencil-necked geek ordering a mint chocolate chip milkshake in the background, just know that I made it. Who said living in Jersey didn’t have its advantages?

OBSESSION OF THE WEEK

What a bizarre, freaky month it has been for movies. First off, you had the Nicolas Cage stinkeroo Ghost Rider score $52 million in its opening weekend. Last weekend was even more astounding with 300 — a movie featuring lots of sweaty, half-naked men that appeared to many to be some sort of gay fantasy film — clocking $70 million. But the thing that I’ve been most obsessed with is the inexplicable success of Wild Hogs. The film — about people suffering a mid-life crisis who take to motorcycles — opened to an astounding $39.7 million, and then raked in another $28 million this past weekend, leading one to believe that the film is either — gulp! — receiving good word of mouth, or everyone was just curious to see why anyone in their right mind would waste $10 on such garbage so couldn’t help but do it themselves. It wasn’t like Wild Hogs tanking would’ve sent John Travolta’s career into the toilet. The guy is like a cockroach: You can’t kill him, no matter how many The Experts or Battlefield Earth or The Punishers he makes. But Martin Lawrence, on the other hand — see, that’s another story right there. After Black Knight, National Security, and Rebound, I figured we were this close to being rid of the guy. Not anymore. That sound you hear is the furious typing of scripts that are no doubt being prepared for Big Momma’s House 3. Is this want you want, America — another comedian dressed up in a fat suit and pretending to be a large and in charge sassy black woman? We were almost done with this clown! Now he’s back, and we have only ourselves to blame.

THE FIVE

It took two months, but we’re finally down to the Final 12 in American Idol. Following are my five favorite contestants in this year’s competition — none of which are likely to win.

1. Sanjaya Sympathy vote — pure and simple.

2. Blake At first I resented this white beat-boxer because he reminded me of the Eminem wannabe on the reality show Fame. Then I realized this guy actually could beat-box. And sing.

3. Stephanie I’m not even sure if she realized that was a Prince song she was covering when she did ”How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?” but she nailed it. As well as everything else she’s done.

4. Gina She seems like the most down-to-earth of the crew. Although the matching hair with the boyfriend thing is a tad creepy.

5.Sundance Head Okay, so he didn’t even make the finals. And yes, his facial hair is wildly unfortunate. Still, his name is Sundance Head (see item 4). How excellent is that?

READER MAIL

The force is strong with Glutton readers. I know this from the flood of emails I received in response to last week’s column about watching Star Wars with my son, as well as the list of my five favorite Star Wars characters that fail to utter a single line of dialogue.

Dalton, I have a daughter (Petra) who was also born in 2000, that I’ve successfully geeked out on Star Wars. My proudest moment as a father — when Petra asked me last year ”how does Darth Vader wipe his bottom?” And by the way the blues guy’s name is Max Rebo. — Joe Ingoglia

Joe, your daughter poses a quite pertinent question. How does Darth Vader wipe his bottom? Not only do you have all the armor (also a problem for stormtroopers and anyone whose name ends in Fett), but I’m sure that cape would keep getting in the way as well. Plus, is his booty all charred from being set on fire courtesy of the volcano planet of Mustafar? That could be quite uncomfortable, and no amount of Preparation H can help with that, my friend. Props to Petra for pointing out this mystery of the Sith. And as for Max Rebo, yes, well over 100 people wrote in to inform me what an idiot I am for forgetting his name. Maybe it’s because they added that other stupid CGI character into the band for the Return of the Jedi: Special Edition, thereby relegating Rebo to something of an afterthought.

My husband and I both were 7 years old when Star Wars came out and we both have our own memories, some of which are the same and some different. He had all the action figures and wanted to be Han Solo. I thought Luke Skywalker was cute and wanted my hair to look like Princess Leia’s. We have a 6-year-old daughter who has watched all the movies, but not in order. She knew that Anakin was going to end up being Darth Vader, so I don’t believe she had the same experience as us when we heard the words ”I am your Father” for the first time. We are lucky enough to have experienced that amazing suprise first hand, in a movie theater and not on TV. — Jill Bortz

I agree with you, Jill. As much as our kids are going gaga for the universe far, far away, they will never have the same experience we did, because even if you have them watch it old school style (starting with Episode IV), they would have to be living under a Bantha to not know that Anakin = Vader. They also all pretty much know about Luke and Leia being twins. My son came home the other day telling me all about Kit Fisto, a dude who doesn’t even have a single line of dialogue and is in a movie he hasn’t even seen yet, so that shows you how fast word travels in the playground.

I loved your article. We are close to the same age, and I share your passion of Star Wars, but the last three ”movies” that George Lucas released resembled a man slowly pooping soft serve ice cream. Acting: horrible, Script: empty, Blue/Green screen: unbelievable. Just because Obi-Wan Kenobi was on ”high ground” is the main reason for Anakin losing the fight: Ridiculously priceless. Somebody needs to step in and reshoot the whole damn thing: new script, new actors, less child-friendly animated characters, more animatronics, and no Frankinvader. — Chris Clay

Chris, I hear you on several of your points. The new films are disappointing in many ways. The Phantom Menace suffers from a well-known disease called Jarjarbinksitis, Attack of the Clones features some of the worst romantic dialogue ever put on screen, and I’ve already wasted enough time and space mocking Darth Vader’s infamous ”NOOOOOOOOO!” But there are actually enough elements in the films to keep me coming back for more. I honestly believe the Darth Maul versus Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan battle is the most exciting lightsaber duel in the franchise, I like all the stuff in Clones that doesn’t involve Anakin and Padme, and actually think Revenge of the Sith overall is a very good film, with Ian McDiarmid giving us the best acting performance in the entire franchise, which, granted, is not saying all that much. And let us not forget, the original trilogy did contain the Ewoks, so it’s not like those films were perfect by any means. (Actually, Empire kinda is.)

Dalton, I think you made a critical omission in identifying the best, non-speaking characters in the SW franchise. That list cannot be complete without including Malakili (and, yes, I had to look that name up), the guy who was the keeper of the Rancor in Return of the Jedi. How can you ignore a character solely known for a child-like crying scene and proudly displaying a set of prominent, if not oddly dirty, man-boobs? —Cris Thompson

Excellent call, Cris! Just watched Jedi with Dale, and you are so right about Malakili (I’m taking your word for it on his name). Why are his man-boobs so grimy? Did Salacious Crumb take a crap on him? Is he having some sort of passionate affair with a Gamorrean guard that we should know about? What’s the story? I think we need a little fan fiction to sort this whole mess — no pun intedned — out.

Dalton, here’s my suggestion — please let your wife write about your Obsession of the Week sometime. I think her take on what she thinks your real obsession of the week is would be hilarious! —Kelli Warden

Kelli, you’re a mind reader! In fact, I’ve taken it one step further. For weeks, I’ve been trying to convince Christina to write my entire column. I believe this makes sense for several reasons.
1) She isn’t too thrilled with the portrait that has been painted of her, as some sort of Hugh Grant loving floozy.
2) She is actually a much more accomplished writer/editor than I am, having worked at one of the coolest mags ever (Sassy), and then going on to run two other magazines (YM and ELLEgirl).
3) I am incredibly lazy and the week off would be nice. I’m going to keep bugging her about it — working column title: Bride of Glutton — although I am also keenly aware that payback can be a serious bitch. Still, I think it would be worth it. She deserves some sort of equal time, and you readers deserve someone making sense for a change.

Have any ideas for sneaking onto The Sopranos set? How about ways to ensure we don’t have to endure the second coming of Martin Lawrence? Is there an American Idol contestant that floats your boat or drives you absolutely bonkers? And how do you think Darth Vader wipes his bottom? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles to theglutton@ew.com, or simply fill out the handy dandy form below. See ya next week!