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Italian-American group sues makers of 'The Sopranos'

By The Associated Press

04.06.01

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CHICAGO — An Italian-American organization yesterday sued the makers of the HBO television series "The Sopranos," charging the program wrongly portrays most of the ethnic group as mobsters.

The American Italian Defense Association is not seeking monetary damages or cancellation of the cable series, but wants a jury to declare that the show offends the dignity of Italian Americans, attorney Enrico Mirabelli said.

"HBO says it's an original series, and that's why we brought an original lawsuit," Mirabelli told the Chicago Sun-Times.

HBO responded, saying the company was "very proud of 'The Sopranos.' We're hardly alone in our assessment that the show is an extraordinary artistic achievement."

The group is suing Time Warner Entertainment Co. under the "individual dignity" clause of the Illinois Constitution.

According to the Sun-Times, a portion of the state constitution reads: "Communications that portray criminality, depravity or lack of virtue in a group of persons by reason of or by reference to religious, racial, ethnic, national or religious affiliation are condemned."

No lawsuit of its kind has ever been tried, said John Marshall Law School professor Michael Polelle, one of the attorneys filing the lawsuit. The Sun-Times reports that there has been only one other suit brought under the "individual dignity" clause. In that case — which was dismissed by a state court — an African-American sought monetary damages for a racial epithet used against him, the paper reported.

The Italian-American group says their suit is different because they are not seeking monetary damages, according to the Sun-Times.

Update

Yo, 'Sopranos' has 'right to sing'
Illinois court dismisses suit that accused makers of HBO series of stereotyping Italian-Americans.  09.22.01

Related

Congresswoman asks House to rap 'Sopranos' for stereotyping
New Jersey lawmaker introduces resolution chastising producers of HBO series, similar shows for depicting Italian-Americans as criminals.  05.24.01

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