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'Sopranos' Feud Puts Mayor on Parade Sidelines


NEW YORK — The great Sopranos War escalated Friday when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said he would skip the city's Columbus Day Parade next week after organizers blocked him from marching with two members of the HBO hit show.

Bloomberg had invited Lorraine Bracco and Dominic Chianese to join him in the annual parade Monday up Fifth Avenue, but parade organizers objected, saying the show about New Jersey mobsters demeans law-abiding Italian Americans.

The mayor said he had invited Bracco and Chianese as New Yorkers who have done important volunteer work for the city, not as members of the cast.

And he scoffed at organizers' predictions that he would back down on the issue.

But Bloomberg switched gears Friday when the city's corporation counsel--the mayor's top lawyer--agreed in a brief court hearing that organizers had the right to rescind any invitation. The U.S. District Court hearing had been sought by the parade sponsors. Soon afterward, the mayor announced he would find another Columbus Day event to march in--a smaller one in the Bronx, perhaps.

It marks the first time in recent memory that a New York City mayor has decided to stay away from one of the city's most popular parades.

"I'm sorry if anyone's annoyed, but if my friends can't march ... [organizers] don't have to have the mayor," he said. Later, attempting to do his impression of Marlon Brando in "The Godfather" on his weekly radio show, Bloomberg continued: "I'm sort of walking along, invite two Italian Americans, want to say thank you on behalf of the city. And bada bing, bada boom--all of a sudden they're down my throat, OK?"

Leaders of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which runs the parade, reiterated their belief that the HBO show is a slur on Italian American culture.

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