Terence Winter talks Mob Molls with Joanna Langfield

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Terence Winter is no stranger to strong women. The son of a Brooklyn widow, this auto mechanic, turned lawyer, turned multi-Emmy winning writer, producer and director, is also responsible in part for “Xena: Warrior Princess,” and “Sister, Sister.” He also created (and yes, in one case killed off) Dr. Melfi, Adriana, and Carmela on the Sopranos. Ironically, in Brooklyn Rules, his latest theatrical release, it is Ellen, a slim but pivotal role played by Mena Suvari, who keeps his alter-ego character from becoming a mobster in the first place.

Yes, Brooklyn Rules is “semi-autobiographical,” Winter readily acknowledges. And, like Freddie Prinze Jr’s Michael, he, too, conned his way into a prestigious New York University pre-law program, wanting a better future, but not wanting to leave his buddies behind.

Now,at his LA home, enjoying the hubbub of his and his girlfriend’s brand new baby boy, Terry admits he learned a lot growing up on the colorful streets of Brooklyn’s Marine Park neighborhood. “But,” he insists, “only by osmosis. You stand around on the streets there, you pick up things.”

While he is enormously proud to also witness the screen-birth of his long-in-the-making independent film (Winter’s script, written in 1999, had been attached to several big names, including Johnny Depp and Griffin Dunne before finally winding up in the hands of director Michael Corrente and City Lights Pictures), he is, simultaneously wrapping his most notorious project, HBO’s, The Sopranos.

Clearly, this is a bittersweet time both for those who’ve created the series and those of us who love it. And, no, Winter wouldn’t spill the beans about the much anticipated final episode, except to say David Chase is writing, directing and doing a “great” job, cognizant of the fact that they all have a “big responsibility to end it right.”

Some of us can’t resist the interpersonal dramas of Tony and his “peeps,” yet, Terry notes, it makes him and his fellow executive producers crazy when fans complain “nothing happened” if no one gets wacked in an episode. Apparently, if you want violence, Winter’s your guy. “You name the act of violence, I’ve written it,” he laughs ruefully. How does the writer live with his “poison pen?” It’s not easy.

“When Paulie killed the stripper, that got to me. You take yourself to an ugly place, write it and let it go.” Except, it seems, when it came to killing off one of the show’s most beloved characters, Adriana.

“We made a promise amongst ourselves at the beginning of the show that we would never keep a character alive because we liked the actor. And I love Drea (de Matteo). And there was only one option what to do with her. And then, I just didn’t want to see it. So I found myself writing her, crawling out of camera range when she gets shot. So now, all sorts of people say all sorts of stuff about her being alive, she didn’t get shot, when I just wrote that she gets shot off camera because I didn’t want to see it!”

When I commented on the remarkable depth to the creation of many of the “Soprano” female characters, Terry offered an insider view of their “deals with the devil.” Adriana, of course, was intentionally “perceived as glamorous,” but even the theoretical voice of reason, Dr. Melfi, has mixed feelings about Tony and what he offers her. “Remember, she tells him, if you commit a crime, I should report it to the police. Technically.” And then there’s Carmela, the boss’s wife, who pays lip service to her horror, but never really leaves. “She went through all that stuff with the religion, but she can be bought off easily.”

“These women have to be tough,” I say.

“They have to be tougher to walk away,” Winter responds, summing up exactly what makes these women as compelling as the men they love.

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Joanna Langfield

Her voice is heard throughout the 50 states and around the world by more than one million listeners on her syndicated radio programs: Joanna Langfield’s People Report and Video and Movie Minute. She’s also seen and heard as a regular contributing commentator on CNN International, CNN, Fox News and CNBC. In print, her articles have been published in such high profile magazines as Video Review and McCall’s. Joanna Langfield is known for taking interviews to another level with probing looks at celebrities’ insights rather than just their latest projects. As a result, she’s secured a niche among the nation’s premier interviewers and movie critics. Joanna began her career on the production staff of a local Boston television station. She then focused her energies towards radio and produced talk shows at WMEX-AM in Boston. After moving to New York, she became executive producer at WMCA-AM for talk show personalities Barry Gray and Sally Jessy Raphael. She began hosting a one-minute movie review spot which, in turn, led to her top-rated weekend call in-show, The Joanna Langfield Show (1980-83). Joanna moved to WABC-AM to host The Joanna Langfield Show on Saturday nights from 9:00pm to midnight. It was the highest rated show in its time slot. From 1987-1989, Joanna hosted Today’s People on the ABC Radio network, which was fed daily to over 300 stations around the country. She also appeared on WABC-TV as a regular on-air contributor. In 1989, Joanna formed her radio production company, Joanna Langfield Entertainment Reports, to syndicate her radio reports. She is considered to be one of the top authoritative commentators on the entertainment industry. Read Lagfield's recent articles below. For her Women On Film archive, type "Joanna Langfield" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).