“The Sopranos” film an episode at a bar in West Milford

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:01

WEST MILFORD — The hit HBO program “The Sopranos” came to town last Friday to shoot scenes for their upcoming sixth season. The small screen sensation spent the day in and around Big John’s Pub on Main Street, Newfoundland filming scenes featuring one of the show’s main character’s, Vito Spatafore. A relaxed looking Joe Gannascoli, who plays the role of Vito in the show, sat patiently outside the pub posing for pictures and talking to fans. While Vito’s name may not be instantly recognizable Gannascoli is looking forward to a bigger role when the new season airs. “I think it’s going to be a big year for Vito. You’ll be seeing a lot more of him.” There will be less of Gannascoli to see while watching more of Vito, since the actor shed approximately 140 pounds since season five ended. The role of Vito is unique to the show in that while he can match the best of them for the mix of imminent violence and unguarded charm he has the added weight of hiding a huge secret — that of being the gay mobster. In one of season five’s most memorable and stunning scene’s Vito is caught in a compromising position with a male security guard. Gannascoli spoke coyly of Vito’s homosexuality saying “It does make it very interesting.” Gannascoli smiles as anti-bear hunt advocate Susan Kehoe seeks his support for the cause and he happily poses with a campaign banner. The realm of politics doesn’t beckon yet for Gannascoli but the crossover into literature and cuisine will see his first novel, “A Meal to Die For”, published in January next year. Big John’s is co-owned by husband and wife team Norman and Tracy Bennett. While the cameras moved outside and the bar opened for business as normal again Tracy Bennett said “Today has been great. The producers have agreed to keep the name of the pub in the show and we hope it gives us some great publicity.” Tracy said the show’s location scout just walked in one day and asked if they’d be interested in having their bar used for the shoot if selected by the production team. After several visits more, the delighted bar keepers were informed they had been picked as the favorite site. David Chambers is the guy who was in charge of the location last Friday. He told The Messenger that, while the location was perfect, we shouldn’t expect to hear the names of West Milford or Newfoundland mentioned when the episode airs. Chambers said “This is supposed to be a remote location, Hartford, Connecticut in fact. We were looking for a place that would appear very far away from the city but in fact be close for us to move our equipment and crew.” Chambers was reluctant to disclose the nature of the scenes being filmed to keep the show’s content top secret but was fulsome in his praise for the help they had received from the township and the Bennetts. Chambers expects the episode featuring the bar to be on screen in the show’s eighth episode due for broadcasting in early May 2006.