Mob Invades Honolulu Docks
The Sopranos throw a big-time Honolulu bash
You have to reach back to bad old days of the yen bubble to remember Honolulu promo parties that pulled out all the stops. Recently, however, HBO came to town and threw a shindig that brought back memories of glorious evenings past. It was, according to several accomplished partygoers, an evening for which the tab probably reached six figures.
The generous host was HBO, celebrating the season premiere of its gangster family drama, The Sopranos. Honolulu being Honolulu, and not, say, Los Angeles, it wasn’t really the premiere. The season had started a month earlier, and the crowd had to be content with a sneak peak at the series’ fourth episode.
Not that anyone seemed to mind, since HBO had transformed usually deserted Pier 19 into an Italian street fair. The empty state building there (which is likely to end up as the terminal for Hawaii Super Ferry, should it arrive in 2006) became a neon-lit nightclub, with a band (Paradise & Co., given a rockin’ edge by the addition of Bluzilla’s Corey Funai) and Bada Bing dancers. “I had to interview lots of dancers to find just the right ones,” jokes Philip Richardson, whose company, Current Affairs, put together the look, location and entertainment. “I loved the dockside feel,” says Richardson. “Just spooky enough for The Sopranos.”
The food was handled by Meritage, who served the sort of menu you might find at a New Jersey street fair—sausage and pepper sandwiches, fried ravioli, cannoli, gelato. Meritage even borrowed Boston North End Pizza’s star pizza twirler, Joshua Arnold, to spin dough to amuse the crowd.
The only series star to make the Honolulu premiere was 73-year-old Dominic Chianese, who plays Uncle Junior. Chianese introduced his new bride, Jane Pittson, 56. “It’s never too late,” he counseled the crowd, and then sang a ditty of his own composition, accompanying himself on guitar.
Why do such a party in Honolulu? Says Suzanne Baum, who handled the publicity for HBO: “We do it in many cities, of course. In Hawaii, we did it mainly for Oceanic, which is part of the Time Warner Family. It gave a nice buzz for the show and the network. And it was fun, wasn’t it?”