Originally posted at: Big Dave on sports
When season 131 of the Cubpranos started in April both fans and critics had high hopes. Seeking to improve on lackluster ratings the shows producers’, the Tribune Company, brought in new characters including head of the family Lou, and new hit man Alfonso Soriano. But as we approach the mid season episodes neither fans or critics are impressed and the ratings have not improved. The Graveyard sat down with writer/director Jim Hendry and new star Piniella to discuss the past episodes and what we can expect as we head towards the season finale in October.
Graveyard: Piniella, your character was brought on the show specifically to make it more successful, how do you think you have done?
Piniella: I can only read the words they give me and act with the actors I have. I can’t write the show, direct, and play everyone’s part.
Hendry: I think what Piniella is trying to say is that we haven’t meshed as a company like we had hoped.
Graveyard: Was the character of Lou the right choice to head the family?
Piniella: Well he’s a guy who has had a lot of success in the past, he was big in the New York family, then made the Cincinnati family the world’s strongest, and then he went to Seattle and when they went to war with the New York family they completely wiped them out, so yeah, I think you can see him stepping in and taking over the Chicago family.
Hendry: But he’s also been out of the business for years. He’s been down in Tampa running a little family, you know, small potatoes. Then he takes a year off and he comes back to Chicago and part of the story is can he go back ten or eleven years and be the man he was then, or has he lost it? That’s a lot of the inner strife you see in the character.
Piniella: [angrily] I don’t think he’s lost it. He’s still a very strong character.
Graveyard: Well I have noticed in the latest episodes you have increased the violence, there was the fight between Carlos and Michael, and then Lou got into it with someone from the commission.
Hendry: The Carlos character is really at a crossroads. He could be a bigger earner in other families but he likes Chicago. But the worse things are for the Cubprano family, the less attractive he is to other families. And we have always written him as a bit of a hot head. He doesn’t like working with screw-ups and Michael’s character is a screw up.
Graveyard: But isn’t that the fault of the boss? And worst of all they fought at the Wrig and one of the rules on the show is you don’t disrespect the Wrig.
Piniella: You don’t see every scene. We can’t put everything on camera. Lou dealt with both Carlos and Michael very sternly. Both know they will be sleeping in the Chicago River if this happens again. He won’t stand for it. Lou can’t afford to lose Carlos to another family but I think if he could get a moment alone with Michael he’d put a bullet through the back of his head.
Graveyard: And Lou’s reaction when a sit down with the Atlanta family went awry?
Piniella: He’s an emotional guy, and yeah he may have overreacted and he got slapped down by Buddy Sells, but Lou isn’t afraid of the Atlanta guys or the commission. He’s showing his family he will stand up for them.
Hendry: When I wrote the scene it was to show Lou totally losing his emotions over everything that has happened. You are going to see that more as the season progresses. Lou is wrestling with some pretty heavy demons.
Piniella: Lou didn’t lose his emotions. Lou doesn’t have demons. Get off Lou’s ass.
Graveyard: You say that Lou is showing his family that he stands up for them, but there had been a number of times he had singled out family members for their mistakes, most memorably Dempster.
Piniella: Lou is the type of guy who, if you are going to be in his family, you have to be accountable. Again, you don’t see every scene. Lou is a big supporter of Dempster.
Hendry: You’ll notice, when Lou’s not in a scene, you can see how his men don’t respect him. Dempster is openly talking about joining another family.
Piniella: Guys blow off steam. Everyone likes and respects Lou as their boss.
Graveyard: One of the big moves the show has done this year was to bring in the Soriano character as a hit man; he was to be as big a character as Lou. How do you think he’s done?
Hendry: The Soriano character has been slow to develop, I’ll admit, but he is still going to be the star of the show soon. He has great cross ethnic appeal, and once the character hits his stride I think he’ll be the best on TV.
Piniella: You know I didn’t sign these guys; I just have to act with them. The kid shows up late, holds up production, and he’s just sleepwalking through his scenes. That is reflected in the work. I don’t see his character ever catching fire like people thought, but of course he’ll be prominent in every story because the writer here pushed for him. But if Lou had his way he’d take him out behind the Wrig and teach him a lesson he would never forget.
Graveyard: I think the fans and the critics agreed that the show had to change. Last season’s finale saw Boss Baker’s character get whacked, two of the shows biggest stars, Prior and Wood were wounded and may not be back, three seasons before that you had Sosa, who was basically the star of the show, killed along with his boom box by Wood and Barrett, have any of these changes helped?
Hendry: The Prior and Wood departures were out of our control, we thought we could build the show around them, and Sosa’s character had played out, as had Baker’s, so we think with Lou, and Soriano, we are going to have those ratings back where they were four years ago.
Piniella: When I came here I thought that the Wood and Prior characters would be part of the show; unfortunately I was misinformed which makes Lou’s job as a boss harder. On the show Lou’s got a bunch of journeymen earners who no other families wanted and the shows got a bunch of uninteresting journeymen actors, so I don’t know, I just read the words written act with the actors they give me.
Graveyard: It sounds like there is some problem with you two, how is your working relationship?
Piniella: It sucks.
Graveyard: Just one more question Mr. Hendry and I know you get asked this a lot, in 2003, when Prior and Alou shoot Bartman and took him out into the snowy woods to bury him and he escaped, are we ever going to see him again?
Hendry: [Smiling] I’ll never tell.
Piniella: [Frowning] Go fuck yourself, Jim.