From Sopranos Bit Part to Lead for Speed

The young woman Paulie Walnuts was trying to put a handle on in the final episode of The Sopranos is front and center in Speed Channel’s new branding campaign.

Melanie Minichino -- who played Tara Zincone, the niece of Bobby Bacala, in the “Made in America” installment -- will be the face of the “Cars, Bikes, Speed” promos aimed at touting the channel’s automotive-lifestyle shows.

The spots -- sporting the tag line, “Can you handle it?” -- debut July 9 in support of Pinks: All Out, Super Bikes!, NOPI Tunervision and new series Fine Tuned, hosted by actor/model Tyson Beckford, plus the new Sunday-night “Launch Hour” block.

In addition to a TV schedule, print and radio buys, Speed will make its first-ever push with in-theater and in-restaurant advertising.

“There will continue to be an evolution of Speed programming aimed directly at giving our audience the coolest original lifestyle properties on television,” president Hunter Nickell said in a prepared statement. “With the success of shows like Pinks: All Out and Unique Whips, along with new projects like Fine Tuned, the time is right for a targeted marketing campaign, welcoming a larger audience into the Speed family.”

In The Sopranos’ finale, Minichino’s Zincone character is at Vesuvio's with the extended mob clan after her uncle’s funeral when Meadow Soprano asks Paulie Walnuts to join them at the table. Walnuts (Tony Sirico), after finding out that the pretty young thing is Bacala’s niece, offers his condolences, placing his hand on hers.