Sopranos Star Claims Emmy Bias

"One Emmy out of 18 nominations?" spluttered Sopranos star Steve Van Zandt, after the HBO series was all but shut out at Sunday night's television awards.

The show's only win went to actor James Gandolfini, who won the Best Actor in a Drama Emmy for his conflicted capo.

Van Zandt, who plays Silvio, a member of Tony's New Jersey mob, on the sophomore cable series, had a few theories about why Emmy voters unanimously went with The West Wing in nearly every category this year and threw the laurels to ABC's The Practice last year.

"I'm convinced they're prejudiced against us," fumed Van Zandt to the New York Daily News. "A, we're on cable, B, we're in New York, and C, maybe they don't want to reward a show about gangsters."

Of course, production on the White House drama The West Wing is also based on the East Coast, specifically in Washington, D.C. The cast of the winning NBC series did, however, spend a lot of time making the scene at the Democratic National Convention, held in Los Angeles just a few weeks ago.

Van Zandt, who's also known as "Little Steven" when he plays guitar in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, claims that West Coast bias is also responsible for Grammy omissions for the Boss over the years.

"They've thrown Bruce smaller awards over the years, like Best Male Rock Performer. But never the big stuff," says Van Zandt. "So, yes, I'm used to it."

Sarah Jessica Parker, star of another acclaimed HBO series, Sex and the City, which was also slighted by Emmy voters, was more philosophical: "I'm not disappointed. We never thought our show would win. I'm just happy Jimmy Gandolfini won."

For his part, Gandolfini admitted that he wished the show had done "a little better."

In other Sopranos news, which could — who knows — play into consideration next year at the Emmys, Matrix weasel Joe Pantoliano has signed a two-year contract with the series.

The character actor, who's been nicknamed "Joey Pants," let the news slip at the Toronto International Film Fest, reports Pantoliano was there promoting Memento with co-star Carrie Anne-Moss, with whom he also co-starred in The Matrix.

Joey's long line of squirrely characters includes the bail bondsman who hires Robert De Niro in Midnight Run and the scheming mob underling in the sexy noir Bound — so you see that he knows the territory. The Sopranos' third season debuts in March 2001.