‘Sopranos’ attracts a mob on Italo TV

Series aired midweek in post-midnight slot

MILAN — The Italian debut of “The Sopranos” on Mediaset’s flagship Canale5 was such a success in latenight Wednesday that it not only justified a rebroadcast, the New Jersey-set mob drama has been moved to a more reasonable timeslot of 11:30 p.m. on Saturday nights for the rest of the season.

According to the Auditel national monitoring service, the series pulled in 23% of the overall viewing audience, more than a million people who were watching.

Before the debut of the show, Silvio Berlusconi’s TV company Mediaset was concerned about negative reactions to the series from Italian-American groups in the U.S. Mediaset decided to air the series at midweek, after midnight and with virtually no publicity.

Berlusconi concerns

Mediaset was also concerned because its main shareholder, Berlusconi, has just been elected prime minister and is trying to form a new cabinet. Berlusconi is still entangled in legal suits alleging that he has ties to the Mafia.

The Italian version of “The Sopranos” has been dubbed into the local language, though much of the distinctive flavor of the original — the thick New Jersey accents and ‘”Mobspeak'” — have been lost.

The older characters in the dubbed version speak in Neapolitan dialect, while the younger ones speak standard Italian sprinkled with Neapolitan expressions.

Mediaset has purchased all 13 episodes of the first season of “The Sopranos” for an undisclosed price.