The NY Post had written:
The cast of “The Sopranos” is furious at Joe Gannascoli, who played gay gangster Vito Spatafore, for doing a series of glowing interviews about James Gandolfini — when in fact they were not close friends and hadn’t talked in years.
Sources tell Page Six that Gandolfini and his series co-stars were turned off years ago by Gannascoli’s “grandstanding” and self-promotion. One said, “After joining the show, Joe hired his own p.r. person and would do all this press for himself, and it just became too much. Jim was very much a team player, and would only do interviews if it was to help someone in the ‘Sopranos’ family, or as a group.
“But Joe was the opposite; he kept grandstanding and it became a turnoff for Jim and [‘Sopranos’ creator] David Chase. It also rubbed most of the cast the wrong way. Then, as soon as Jim died, Joe was grandstanding again. He wasn’t close to Jim. They probably haven’t spoken in around seven years. Some members of the cast feel like Joe is using Jimmy’s death to get his own name out there.”
Multiple sources told the Blitz at the time that much of the above was untrue and that Schirripa alone might be 'raging' at Gannascoli. A rivalry that reportedly stemmed from Joseph's Sopranos season six breakout role as gay mobster Spatafore. A jealousy that at that time apparently included not wanting Gannascoli to garner positive publicity or success. Our research showed that no publicity person was employed by Gannascoli during his Sopranos work. A second source indicated that he didn't think Joe even used an agent. ("James Hoving" might ring a bell for some...)
Research at the time turned up a photo of Joseph's 2005 wedding...attended by James Gandolfini.
An internet search also turned up tales of a smiling Gandolfini at Gannascoli's 'Soup as Art' Brooklyn restaurant. Eye witness accounts indicate castmates would often join Joe there to help promote his business. A sick as a dog Jim was once there front and center, signing autographs and helping out his pal.
Joey wrote at the time:
First and foremost let me say that the sudden loss of Jimmy [Gandolfini] who leaves behind a beautiful wife and a 13-yr-old son and a daughter just 8 months old is beyond tragic. He was someone we all looked up to as our leader and he was a truly gifted actor. But more than that he was a humble, regular, and compassionate guy who was taken from us way too early.
The last thing in the world I want to be is a distraction. It’s a shame that you, (and you alone - not cast ‘members’) decided to bring up this story now when his family is grieving as is the rest of the world. I didn't want to respond so soon because unlike you, (I know who you are, always have, and it was confirmed.) I thought that would have been distasteful. I find it comical that you think I was "grandstanding" when in fact you are the biggest media pig out there. It's an inside joke that whenever there was a camera you knew who to be beside for photo ops, or where and when the camera was on you. Comically showing up for Rangers games when you hate hockey.
Quite the calculating shill.
But then you turned my heartfelt tributes to Jim into something ugly, you crossed the line. But instead of going after the paper that insinuated what Jim ate and drank his last day had something to do with his passing you went after me. No balls. Karma just called - they are looking for you.
I could refute every one of your silly accusations but that would only fuel this nonsense and give it credence. I've learned that you can't un-ring a bell, and so it goes. What's most important to me is that my family, friends, the Soprano crew, fans and the people I respect know my character and the truth.
This story has absolutely broken my heart. But then again I considered the source which gave me solace. Why you would come out with this story at a time when Jim was not even buried is really sad on your part.
I feel sorry for you. You are an angry person but really you should be so thankful for what God has put in your path. But more importantly than you is that the world has lost a great actor, friend, humanitarian, husband and loving father. That's the real story. I can only pray that God gives strength to his family, wife and kids in the years to come.
The ceremony for Jim was spectacular, moving, and fit for a King. And to you James I say, go easy my friend until we meet again, I will bring the gabagool.
Gannascoli joined Brian Buckley on the popular Red Ticket Blues podcast today and took aim at Schirripa, confirming out 3 year old report for the first time: "The inside joke among cast members about Steve was 'He has a big bowl of ice cream in front of him...and yet he's always looking at yours.'"
Later in the interview Joe took aim at Mike Francesa & his ridiculous Tank Mushing before discussing his wildly popular Bottle Skinz.
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