The Sopranos, Degrassi highlights of CTV lineup Jason Alexander's new show also gets a look-in

The Sopranos, Degrassi highlights of CTV lineup Jason Alexander’s new show also gets a look-in

Dan Brown
National Post

CTV announced yesterday that the centrepiece of its 2001-2002 schedule will be the second season of The Sopranos, the HBO Mob series beloved by television critics that stars James Gandolfini. The network, which was the first non-cable broadcaster to carry the show’s first season, will once again air The Sopranos in all its uncut glory.

CTV made the announcement at an early-morning press conference in Toronto. To trumpet the news, the assembled executives played a video montage of clips from the show, including two graphic sex scenes. It was quite possibly the first time bare breasts have figured prominently in a network press conference.

Also on hand were four stars from the show: Dominic Chianese, Robert Iler, Michael Imperoli and David Proval.

Imperoli, who plays Christopher Moltisanti, revealed that he had learned just yesterday of CTV’s commitment to air The Sopranos as it aired on HBO. He was impressed.

“Makes me think twice about Canadians, though,” he joked. The third season of The Sopranos recently finished running on Canada’s The Movie Network (it has yet to wrap up on Movie Central in Western Canada).

Imperoli and his fellow cast members couldn’t confirm reports that Gandolfini and the show’s creator, David Chase, want to make the show’s fourth season its last. “Nobody knows,” Imperoli said. Chianese did, however, confirm that he has signed a contract for only one more season. The show is slated to run on CTV at 10:00 p.m. Sunday.

Among the other imports in the CTV lineup is Philly, a drama from NYPD Blue creator Steven Bochco; Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s reality series The Runner; and the Jason Alexander vehicle Bob Patterson.

Among its new Canadian offerings, Degrassi: The Next Generation is the program with the highest profile. As was reported in the National Post in February, the series will kick off with a one-hour special that will reunite the stars of the original Degrassi series. It will then focus on a new group of youngsters, some of whom are children of the original characters.

Miriam McDonald, who is 13 years old, will play Emma Nelson, the daughter of Spike (actress Amanda Stepto). McDonald was asked yesterday by a reporter why she isn’t familiar with the original series. “I wasn’t born yet and I was a little too young,” she responded.

Along with Stepto, Stefan Brogren — who played Snake — will also reprise his role on the new series. Stacie Mistysyn, who played Caitlin, and Pat Mastroianni, who played Joey Jeremiah, will appear in the reunion special.

By way of explaining why he had not signed on for the full series, Mastroianni nodded in the direction of the new cast: “It’s their show.”

Highway 61 director Bruce McDonald will direct the hour-long special, as well as two episodes of the series. New Jersey filmmaker Kevin Smith, the director of Clerks and Mallrats, who has made no secret of his obsession with all things Degrassi, has agreed to make a cameo appearance as Caitlin’s boyfriend.

The CTV announcement was a part of the Canadian Television Press Tour, a week-long series of press conferences staged by major broadcasters to drum up publicity for their fall schedules. After the Sopranos and Degrassi press conferences, journalists took part in round-table discussions with actors from several CTV shows.

One of the performers making the rounds was ER’s Erik Palladino. Palladino — who plays Dr. Dave Malucci — recently completed production on Finder’s Fee, a motion picture directed and written by Jeff Probst, the host of Survivor.

According to Palladino, Probst hopes to enter the film in the Toronto International Film Festival.

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