‘Sopranos’ tuning up

1,800 come out for Gotham preview

NEW YORK — Judging by the size of the crowd that showed up for the New York premiere of “The Sopranos” at the Ziegfeld on Wednesday night, HBO’s invitation to preview two episodes from the hit Mafia show’s sophomore season was an offer that no one could refuse.

Some 1,800 people queued up outside the 1,100-seat Ziegfeld, and hundreds of them had to be bussed across town to HBO headquarters for an overflow screening.

Even HBO topper Jeff Bewkes seemed a bit agog at the larger-than-life scale event at the Roseland ballroom. “Now, this is a party,” he said.

No one seems to have been more surprised by the show’s popularity than its creators, including writer-director David Chase.

“Before the first season, we used to sit around and say, ‘Who’s going to watch this thing?’ ” Chase said. “We could not have been more surprised.”

Executive producer Brad Grey was equally sanguine. “It’s been a great ride,” he said.

The crowd was studded with members of the show’s “family,” including stars James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco and Edie Falco. Aida Turturro, a new addition this season, busted a move alongside guests Robert Klein and Rosie Perez. But Janeane Garofalo, who also will appear on the show later this season, kept to the periphery of the dance floor.

Jamie-Lynn Sigler took over the microphone at one point and late in the night Steven Van Zandt joined the band on stage.

Other notables among the star-studded crowd included Spike Lee, Stephen King, Matthew Broderick and wife Sarah Jessica Parker, Christopher Walken, Jon Bon Jovi and Peter Bogdanovich.