PARK RIDGE, N.J. – As a teenager, James Gandolfini would hang out with friends on Friday nights at the Ridge Diner, on Park Avenue between his house and his high school. Many years later, the man known to millions as Tony Soprano brought his son there and told him tales of his childhood.
On Sunday, the busy intersection by the diner was closed off to dedicate a stretch of Park Avenue to Gandolfini, the “son of Park Ridge,” as the mayor called him. He died in June of a heart attack.
Park Ridge residents remembered Gandolfini as a skinny kid who performed at the Little Theater at Park Ridge High School and who later became a humble star, but remained devoted to his family. Gandolfini also appeared in numerous films, including the recent hit “Enough Said.”
Joining Gandolfini’s widow, Deborah Lin, and son, Michael Gandolfini, on Sunday were “Sopranos” director Timothy Van Patten and cast members Steve Schirripa, Vincent Curatola, Tony Sirico, Dominic Chianese, Vincent Pastore and John Ventimiglia. “We thought maybe we were going to get a mob,” he said. “It looks like we did.”
Fourteen-year-old Michael added a more personal note, saying he would “never forget going to the Park Ridge diner and eating there” with his father. “He just told me every story about every place here,” said Michael, from Los Angeles.
Lopez to accept Grace Kelly Award
Jennifer Lopez is being honored by the March of Dimes. Lopez, the 44-year-old mother of 5-year-old twins, Maximilian and Emme, will receive the Grace Kelly Award at the eighth annual March of Dimes luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Friday. She’s being recognized as a celebrity parent role model supporting women giving birth to healthy babies after full-term pregnancies. “As a mother myself, I am aware of the importance of healthful pregnancies and babies,” Lopez said in a statement. Reese Witherspoon was honored at last year’s event.
end of the road: Jason Davis, the veteran KSTP-TV journalist whose travels have taken viewers down the highway and to the ends of the Earth, announced his retirement Monday. Davis, host of the popular show “On the Road,” said in a report on www.kstp.com, “I’ve run my course, and I’ve achieved what I needed to achieve. There are only so many stories out there; I find it more difficult each week to find stories that are interesting and new to me.” His last day on the job will be May 30. Since 1979, Davis and his news crews have visited more than 35 countries and even the North Pole.
Paul Walsh and news services