''Sopranos'' stirs up food line, cookbook. Tony's chef pal Artie Bucco will sell mass-market entrees and publish recipes
James Gandolfini

If you’re the type of ”Sopranos” fan who gets hungry watching all the Italian-cooking and dining scenes on the show, HBO is going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Just in time for the Sept. 15 premiere of the fourth season, the channel is marketing a line of Artie Bucco food products (named for Tony Soprano’s chef pal) and a ”Sopranos Family Cookbook, as Compiled by Artie Bucco,” the New York Times reports. At last, a legit business for Tony.

The food licensing idea is a ”natural fit” for the show, says co-executive producer Ilene Landress. ”On Sunday nights, people all over the country were throwing these ‘Sopranos’ parties, getting friends together and making these big Italian dinners,” she tells the Times. ”If people are out there cooking up a storm, a line of food products is not far off.”

Starting next month the first set of delicacies — a marinara sauce, a creamy Caesar dressing, and dry ziti — will be available initially only as a gift set and only at the HBO website (HBO, like EW.com, is an AOL Time Warner company). The edibles will make their way into stores by next year, along with Artie’s barbecue sauce, olive oil, other salad dressings, and gourmet frozen pizzas (like prosciutto or artichoke with sun-dried tomatoes). The cookbook will include cast photos and recipes provided by various characters, including, naturally, several of Carmela’s ziti recipes.

Let’s just hope HBO doesn’t follow suit with its other series. After all, no one wants to eat ”Oz” prison food, no one really wants to know what the funereal Fishers of ”Six Feet Under” eat, and for all their brunching, the women of ”Sex and the City” don’t appear to cook or eat at all.

James Gandolfini
The Sopranos
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