Monday, April 23, 2007

Sopranos episode guide #20: D-Girl

US Transmission Date: 27 February 2000
UK Transmission Date: 23 November 2000

Writer: Todd A. Kessler • Director: Allen Coulter
Cast: Jon Favreau (himself), Sandra Bernhard (herself), Janeane Garofalo (herself), Alicia Witt (Amy Safir), Arthur Barnes (Security Guard), Stephen Bienskie (Hotel Clerk), John Devlin (Assistant Director), Dominic Fumusa (Gregory Moltisanti), Anderson Gabrych (UTA Receptionist), Bryan Matzkow (Hotel manager), Andrea Maulella (Michele Foreman), Jason Minter (Bellman), Frank Pando (Agent Grasso), Steve Porcelli (Matt Bonpensiero), Elizabeth Reaser (Stace), Asa Somers (Blaine Richardson)

Storyline: AJ steals his mother’s car to give some girls a ride and scrapes it against the side of a parked truck. Adriana and Christopher have drinks with cousin Gregory and his girlfriend, Amy Safir. She is head of development for film star Jon Favreau, who is in New York for a film shoot. Amy asks after Christopher’s screenplay. The crowd at the next table keep bumping Amy so Christopher gets them to move on with a quiet word. Amy is impressed by his presence. Afterwards Adriana suggests Christopher slip Jon his script. Adriana still have a copy even though Christopher junked the rest. Carmela discovers the damage to the car. She and Tony interrogate AJ about his actions. He shocks them by saying there is no god. Meadow points out that AJ has been studying philosophy at school.

Skip Lipari comes to Pussy’s home at eight in the morning, demanding answers about Tony’s relationship with the Philadelphia mob. One of the Philly bosses was blown up by a bomb blast. Tony tells Dr Melfi about AJ’s outbursts. She suggests the teenager has discovered existentialism. Christopher visits the film set with Amy and meets Jon Favreau. He impresses the actor with his use of colourful vernacular. AJ tells his father that he doesn’t want to be confirmed in church. Tony says AJ is getting confirmed, whether he likes it or not. Christopher takes Amy and Jon on a tour of New Jersey. Jon says his next project is a bio-pic of gangster Crazy Joe Gallo. He wants Christopher to help make the film grittier and more true to life. Christopher recognises a badly disfigured person as a transvestite who was covered in acid by a mobster who didn’t realise he’d been getting a blow-job from a man.

Tony takes AJ to see Pussy, who is his confirmation sponsor. Tony wants Pussy to talk some sense into the youth. Adriana is upset when she discovers that Christopher visited the film set and met Jon Favreau without her. AJ discusses philosophy with Pussy’s son, Matt. Christopher visits Amy at the Soho Grand hotel. They discuss his screenplay and end up having sex. At Pussy’s suggestion, AJ visits his grandmother in hospital. But she just makes him feel worse by saying life is a big nothing. Christopher and Jon meet to discuss the mobster’s screenplay. Christopher gives Jon his gun and frightens the actor by punching, slapping and putting him in a headlock. Jon gives him some script suggestions while carefully wiping his own fingerprints off Christopher’s gun.

Christopher arrives late for dinner with Adriana, Tony and Carmela. The talk is about weddings and food but Christopher gets angry and walks out. Adriana lets slip about Christopher’s screenplay. FBI Agents Lipari and Grasso put pressure on Pussy to wear a wire to AJ’s confirmation and the party afterwards at the Soprano’s house. Christopher goes back to the Soho Grand and has sex with Amy again. He glances over Jon’s script and notices that the transvestite incident has been written into the script. Christopher gets enraged and demands that Jon that it out, but Favreau has already flown back to Hollywood. Pussy’s wife interrupts him when he is attaching the wire to his chest. He attacks her and has to be stopped by his son Matt.

Christopher confronts Amy about Jon’s script but she is about to fly back to Hollywood. She brushes him off but gets angry when Christopher calls her a D-Girl. Her cool image is shattered. At AJ’s confirmation party Pussy tries to get info about the Philly mob from Tony but they are interrupted. Tony and Carmela catch AJ and his friends smoking marijuana in the garage. AJ goes to his room. Pussy talks to the teenager, saying Tony would take a bullet for AJ. Christopher finally arrives at the party. Tony gives him one last chance. If Christopher is still there in ten minutes, Tony will assume he is committed to Tony. Otherwise, he never wants to see Christopher again. The would-be movie writer steps outside to contemplate his future. The Sopranos gather for a family photo but Pussy is missing. He is upstairs in a bathroom, sobbing. Christopher makes his final decision. He goes back inside the house…

Mobspeak: At the film set, Christopher suggests replacing the word bitch with buchiach (cunt) in Sandra Bernhard’s dialogue. Christopher calls Jon a mezzofinook (half gay, bisexual). Pussy says Tony is a stand-up guy (someone who refuses to rat out the Family, no matter what the pressure or promise).

Mamma Mia: Tony says Livia showed her true colours when she tried to have him killed. Pussy sends AJ to visit Livia because she has age, wisdom and stuff. She just depresses him even further by saying he shouldn’t expect happiness, people will let him down and he will die alone. Life is a big nothing, says Livia.

Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: Skip Lipari reminds Pussy that he had lobster fra diavolo with Philly mobster Waldemar Wyczchuk in Atlantic City. Christopher takes Amy and Jon for pizza and soft drinks in New Jersey. Later he takes a New Jersey sandwich to the Soho Grand for Jon but the film star is not to be disturbed. Livia picks at some scrambled eggs in hospital while talking to AJ. Jon has ordered some room service food for his meeting with Christopher but the mobster snorts cocaine instead. When Christopher joins Adriana, Tony and Carmela for dinner, the talk is all about food and weddings. Adriana has ordered some pasta fajioli for Christopher and a plate of antipast to share. The restaurant has some rare imported salami. Christopher finally rebels when the conversation shifts to caterers. ‘I’m so sick and tired of hearing you people talk about food, food, food! That’s all anybody ever talks about is prosciutto, cheese, and fucking Cava beans. I’m drowning here.’ There’s a buffet at AJ’s confirmation party.

Mobbed Up: The level of cross-media mentions goes through the roof in this episode as Hollywood comes to ‘The Sopranos’ in a big way. Eyes down for a very full house of pop cultural references. Amy Safir used to work for film director Quentin Tarantino. She’s now head of development for actor Jon Favreau, who starred in and wrote the film ‘Swingers’. Adriana says Fever’s co-star Vince Vaughn is very cute. Amy says mob theme stories are always hot. Christopher says Amy dressed like she was in ‘The Addams Family.’ When Christopher visits the film set he recognises Sandra Bernhard from Martin Scorcese’s ‘The King of Comedy’ and Janeane Garofalo from ‘The Truth About Cats And Dogs’, which co-starred Ma Thurman. Jon recognises an incident related by Christopher as the basis for a scene from ‘The Godfather Part I’. Christopher says ‘Swingers’ has a pussy-assigns to it. He remembers seeing Jon in ‘Deep Impact’. Jon wants to make a bio-pic about Joe Gallo but Christopher points out this was already done in the film ‘The Gang That Couldn’t Shot Straight’. Amy ascribes Christopher’s anecdote about the acid-covered transvestite to ‘The Crying Game’ but Jon tells him this is a real story. Christopher tells Jon that the acting kind of blew in ‘Swingers’. He preferred Tom Hanks’ acting in ‘Saving Private Ryan’. Christopher reads part of Jon’s screenplay about Joe Gallo, it’s called ‘Crazy Joe’ and is co-written by Ambit Al. Christopher gets angry about the inclusion of his anecdote but Amy refuses to have that sequence removed. She says it has been faxed to director Oliver Stone and he’s agreed to be attached to the project. The anecdote is his favourite thing. Amy reads in film industry trade journal Variety that director Robert Rodriguez is to remake ‘Viva Zapata’ for the Weinsteins at Miramax. She rejects Christopher’s script because studios are adopting a wait and see attitude on Mafia-related projects due to the weakness of the first weekend foreign box office performance of ‘Mickey Blue Eyes’.

How Do You Feel?: Tony tells Dr Melfi that his mother is dead to him. The therapist suggests AJ may be feeling intense dread having realised that death is the only absolute truth. Tony thinks his son may be on to something.

Sleeping With The Fishes: Waldemar Wyczchuk, a Philadelphia mobster blown up in a bomb blast. The FBI are trying to make a connection between the bombing and the Sopranos.

Quote/Unquote: Tony misunderstands when Dr Melfi suggests his son may have stumbled on to existentialism: ‘Fucking internet.’ Amy talks a lot of shit but this line is one of her finest, when she discusses the guns being used to two lesbians: ‘The silencers underscore their voiceless place in society.’ Tony tells his son to do what Carmela wants: ‘She knows that even if God is dead, you’re still gonna kiss his ass.’ Tony shares an important truth with Christopher: ‘When you’re married you’ll understand the importance of fresh produce.’

Soundtrack: ‘Swingtown’ by the Steve Miller Band. ‘Rhiannon’ by Fleetwood Mac. ‘Caught My Mind’ by Pushmonkey. ‘Vedi, Maria’ by Emma Shapplin. ‘Shoalin Satellite’ by Thievery Corporation. ‘Tasty Pudding’ by Chet Baker. ‘Voulez-Vous?’ by Arling & Cameron.

Surveillance Report:
Actors Jon Favreau, Sandra Bernhard and Janeane Garofalo all play themselves. Amy Safir is played by Alicia Witt, who is probably best known for playing Cybill Shepherd’s daughter in the sitcom ‘Cybill’. Christopher calls Amy a D-Girl, which is slang for development girl – one of the lowest rungs on the Hollywood ladder.

The Verdict: ‘Be a good Catholic for fifteen fucking minutes! Is that so much to ask?’ AJ discovers existentialism and has a crisis of faith, while Christopher gets close to his Hollywood dream and has a crisis of loyalty. Pussy is under pressure from the FBI to deliver results. This is one of the funniest episodes in Season Two, shot through with perfect parodies of Hollywood double-talk. The character of Amy is hardly able to speak without spouting trite pleasantries and borrowed phrases. But the funniest material comes from AJ’s brush with various philosophical concepts. For Pussy, events are starting to spiral out of control. He nearly beats his wife and – against all his instincts – wears a wire into Tony’s home. Christopher survives his moment of crisis, choosing to remain with Tony and the Family. That decision could have fatal consequences…

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