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Sopranos suit makes moral point

An Italian-American legal group suing HBO over its Mob drama The Sopranos seeks to make a civil rights issue over the racial stereotyping it argues the series promotes.

The suit filed on Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court against Time Warner Entertainment Co. by the American Italian Defense Association seeks no monetary damages or changes in The Sopranos, but rather seeks a declaration from the court that the series violates the Illinois Constitution's guarantee of "individual dignity." That would go a long way toward raising peoples' consciousness about this kind of racial typecasting, according to Robert Dini, a Chicago attorney who helped found the AIDA one year ago. "A lot of people's lives are being negatively affected by these stereotypes," says Dini. "We're trying to sensitize people in the media and the public that this is going on." Beyond a court ruling condemning the production, Dini hopes HBO considers pulling the plug on it.

HBO and Time Warner have not yet formally been served with the complaint. But HBO issued a statment on Friday, saying only, "We are very proud of The Sopranos. We are hardly alone in our assessment that the show is an extraordinary artistic achievement."
- Richard Tedesco