New Jersey governor Chris Christie and most of the Sopranos said goodbye to James Gandolfini today at the magnificent Cathedral of St John the Divine. Joining Edie Falco and Lorraine Bracco were show creator David Chase, who said in his eulogy that he’d envisioned a scene with Tony Soprano set to Joan Osbourne’s “What if God Were One of Us.” Gandolfini’s widow Deborah spoke briefly but mostly rocked the couple’s 8 month old daughter back and forth in the front row.
The many actors luminaries ranged from Steve Carell, Brian Williams, Dick Cavett, Chris Noth, Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, and Julianna Margulies to a slew of Sopranos; Aida Turturro, Dominic Chianese, Vince Curatola, Federico Castellucci, Michael Imperioli, Joe Pantoliano, Annabella Sciorra, Jerry Adler, and Tony Sirico to Gandolfini’s recent Broadway castmates Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden. A tearful Maureen van Zandt stood in for husband Steve who’s on tour with Bruce Springsteen in Europe.
Hollywood was represented by Brad Grey and Jeff Bewkes. HBO “produced” the massive funeral which comprised hundreds of mourners with grace and elegance.
Another speaker, Tommy Richardson, asked the entire congregation to stand and hug each other. Gandolfini liked to hug he said “too hard and too long.”
Veronica Lupu, the show’s script supervisor, wore a black t shirt she said Gandolfini had given to the whole cast and crew. It read; The Sopranos 1997-2007 “only the good die young.”
Chase wrote his obit in the form of a letter to Gandolfini, calling him “my brother” and speaking for the cast. He recalled that when they shot the pilot on location in New Jersey it was hot and humid. “Jimmy was sitting there with his pants rolled up and a handkerchief on his forehead.” Chase said, that when he saw him there “I was filled with love.”