O'Malley's `Sopranos' encounter a big hit

Identity: The mayor's chance meeting with an actor from the show makes the gossip columns.

February 26, 2000|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Time for Mayor Martin O'Malley to get cable.

Because he doesn't watch HBO, Baltimore's mayor came out of his first foray into the world of New York celebrity feeling a bit like a small-town rube. And his unwitting encounter with a TV gangster made the gossip columns.

During a recent trip to the Big Apple to recruit new business to Baltimore, O'Malley and his deputy mayors found themselves in the famous East Side show-biz watering hole, Elaine's.

While they dined with former New York City Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Maple, who's been hired to help cut Charm City's murder rate, O'Malley was approached by a big man with a thick New Jersey accent.

Unbeknown to O'Malley, a father of three too busy for television, the man was actor Vincent Curatola, who plays the pinky ring-wearing New York gangster Johnny Sack in the award-winning HBO television series "The Sopranos."

When they noticed that O'Malley didn't recognize the star, Maple pals prompted Curatola to slip into his TV gangster persona and ask the crime-fighting mayor if Maryland's largest city was interested in some new business.

According to gossip columnists in the New York Daily News this week, Curatola told O'Malley that he was involved in a variety of enterprises, including making loans, sports and gaming. He added, the column said, that he'd "be happy to cut your crew in for 10 percent."

As O'Malley recalled it later this week, he heard Curatola say over the bar din only that he was in the "waste collection" business -- the focus of his "Sopranos" crime syndicate -- and was interested in expanding to Baltimore.

In any case, those in on the gag struggled to keep from bursting into laughter as the straight-faced O'Malley reached to give Curatola his business card, urging him to contact Baltimore economic development officials.

O'Malley's entourage erupted into eye-watering cackles as the red-faced mayor sat perplexed over what he did to ignite the reaction. The aides then let the mayor in on the gag.

"They all had a good laugh," O'Malley said chuckling.

And so far, anyway, the crew at economic development has yet to hear from Johnny Sack.

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