An offer they couldn't refuse


CARMELA SOPRANO'S sprawling, blonde-brick mansion has arrived. It's attained the prestige and respectability that some suburban, upper-middle-class matrons would kill for - a spread in the publishing world's paean to decorative taste, Architectural Digest. Mrs. S's husband couldn't buy that kind of respect. On second thought, he could. But who said anything about payola?

Tony Soprano's contemporary estate is right up there with architect Robert A.M. Stern's Hollywood-style Manhattan home and designer Mariette Himes Gomez's chic city digs, which also were featured in the September issue.

And you thought New Jersey McMansions were oh so ... dM-iclassM-i?

Of course, Carm and Tony, HBO's huggable mobster, don't own the $3.5 million, 6,000-square foot northern New Jersey home they have occupied for three seasons on The Sopranos (the fourth debuts Sept. 15) in the company of 14 million television viewers. Mind you, they could; the family business does quite well. The pride of ownership, however, belongs to another Italian-American couple: Victor and Patti Recchia of North Caldwell, N.J. Like the fictional Sopranos, the Recchias are private people.

They apparently weren't interested in having the stars and crew tramp through their pastel-hued home week after week. Instead, they gave the producers of the show permission to shoot the exterior scenes of the popular series at their home for an undisclosed price. The show's creators then replicated the interior of the home - from the breakfast room to the great room - at a New York studio.

Architectural Digest obviously recognized the fictional home's appeal. "Set designers really do absolutely wondrous things," says editor Paige Rense, a fan of the show. "They have to know the characters inside-out. They have to know everything about the people, the places, the plot."

The sleek, soft contours of the Sopranos' home serve as a metaphor for all that is not sleek and soft about the family's interior life. Carmela Soprano, often depicted as the wide-eyed, suffering wife, chafes at her husband's line of work. She rages at his infidelities. But there are some advantages to being married to the mob.

Town & Country is calling.

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