Bruce Fretts
November 08, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

Why Hollywood should end the glut of Mafia projects

So the ”Sopranos” second season is over, and its mob of fans is up in arms because the third set of 13 episodes may not begin airing until next March. But I can wait. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the HBO series this year — although I did find the finale a bit of a letdown (too many dream sequences and no shocks as big as Janice gunning down her fiancé, Richie, in the previous week’s installment). It’s just that if I see another Mafia-related TV show or movie anytime soon, I’ll get sicker than Tony Soprano did after eating Artie Bucco’s bad seafood.

I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling. America just refused CBS’ eight-night offer of the organized-crime drama, ”Falcone” (based on the 1997 film ”Donnie Brasco,” which NBC recently aired to record-low ratings). Personally, I didn’t consider ”Falcone” all that bad — it just wasn’t nearly as good as ”The Sopranos.” Herein lies the problem: You’re never going to top Tony and Co., so don’t bother trying.

That’s why I’m proposing a yearlong moratorium on all Mob-themed entertainment. I only wish this ban could be enacted before the Starz! cable channel debuts ”Kiss Toledo Goodbye” this weekend. The fourth Mafia farce in little more than a year, this flick wastes the talents of Michael Rapaport, Christopher Walken, Robert Forster, and Paul Schulze (the priest on ”The Sopranos”) in yet another tale of an innocent schmo who’s forced to impersonate a goodfella.

Yes, Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro killed in ”Analyze This.” But Hugh Grant’s ”Mickey Blue Eyes” and Bruce Willis’ ”The Whole Nine Yards” were deader than a horse’s head, comedically speaking (the few good gags in each film were all given away in the trailers). In one of this season’s wittiest ”Sopranos” episodes, wiseguy Christopher’s autobiographical script was rejected by a cold-blooded Hollywood exec (Alicia Witt), who told him there was a freeze on all gangster projects because of the soft first-weekend foreign grosses for ”Mickey Blue Eyes.” If only it were true.

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