David Chase enters NJ Hall of fame (read induction and acceptance speeches)

david chase nj hall of fame


David Chase and Steven Van Zandt at the New Jersey Hall of Fame induction ceremony at NJPAC in Newark, on Oct. 29.

“The Sopranos” creator David Chase was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame on Oct. 29, at NJPAC in Newark. Here is Steven Van Zandt’s induction speech, and Chase’s acceptance speech. (Click HERE for complete coverage of the event.)

Van Zandt:

Every couple of decades or so, somebody comes along and changes the game. The nice thing about being from New Jersey is they never see us coming. In New Orleans, Louis Armstrong did it for jazz. Chicago — Willie Dixon did it for the blues. Macon, Georgia — Little Richard did it for rock ‘n’ roll.

Now, occasionally, the game changers don’t get the credit. Especially us Italians. After all, everybody knows, Alessandro Volta invented the lightbulb but that shifty Thomas Edison filled out the paperwork. And then, everybody knows, Antonio Meucci invented the telephone, but that rat Alexander Graham Bell filled out the paperwork. But one game-changing Italian that does get the credit, at least tonight — no paperwork necessary — is the guy who revolutionized domestic adult entertainment, otherwise known as cable TV, with a little show called “The Sopranos.” Without “The Sopranos,” there would be no “Wire,” no “Breaking Bad,” no “Mad Men,” no “Boardwalk Empire,” no “Ray Donovan.” Most importantly, God forbid, no “Lilyhammer.” … And HBO would have never (made) “Game of Thrones.” You can forget about that one, too. (“The Sopranos”) transformed a medium that once was … let’s face it, mostly mindless entertainment, with narrative depth, ambiguous morality, elevated anti-heroes to protagonists, and took TV from the bottom of the entertainment hierarchy, all the way to the top. Now that he has accomplished this miracle, what’s he want to do? He wants to make movies. The industry he single-handedly made irrelevant. But that’s the kind of guy he is. Uncompromising, unrelenting, innovative, idealistic, romantic to a fault, and yet a cynical, self-destructive contrarian … my kind of guy. …

It is my honor and pleasure to induct you to the New Jersey Hall of Fame. The Louis Armstrong, Willie Dixon, Little Richard and Antonio Meucci of TV, and my mentor, my hero and my soul brother for life, Mr. David Chase.

And here is Chase’s acceptance speech:

Thank you. Like the song says, “It’s only gabagool, but I like it.” This is really a huge honor for me. It’s very unexpected. It’s probably more unexpected for my parents, wherever they are. They never mentioned me in the same breath as Thomas Edison. And I need to thank the state of New Jersey for this. And for, actually, just about everything. And I want to thank the Hall of Fame from way, way deep in my heart. Thank you so much. This is a treat beyond measure. …

(Thanks family members, and actors and others involved in making “The Sopranos.”)

My parents emigrated to New Jersey from Westchester. I was 4, so I’m not, strictly speaking, a native of New Jersey. But I did something better than that. I married a Jersey girl. In fact, her name is Denise Annette Kelly, she’s from the far end of Bloomfield Avenue: Caldwell, the last stop on the 29 bus. We met at West Essex High School, directly pre-Beatles, and then a few years later, we went down into the foxhole together. And actually, I have to say, Denise made my life. Whatever I am, she did it. And it’s the absolute, absolute truth. Courageous, generous, smart, funny, she gave me so much advice that I needed really badly. Unfortunately, for health reasons, Denise can’t be here with us, which makes me sad. But our daughter, Michele Kelly Chase, is here. She’s always been nothing but a warlike supporter. But more than that, she probably doesn’t think this, but I’ve learned a lot from her. A lot.

Anyway, after 1950 or so, after my family moved to Clifton from Mount Vernon, across the river, my mother and my father and I used to drive over the GW Bridge every two weeks to visit my grandmother, Teresa Melfi. And on the way back, I used to beg my father to take the long way home — this is going way back — which meant down the West Side Highway into Manhattan, where, at that time, the prows of enormous ships used to … loom over the highway, into the Lincoln Tunnel and, finally, into the Meadowlands, i.e., New Jersey. The greatest gateway possible. It quickly became, I think, my most creative wellspring of my life. As a local poet said, ” ‘neath the refinery’s glow, where the deep black rivers flow.” And he had that right. It was a dreamscape, especially at the age of 5 or 6. Blinking lights from the top of radio towers. The deep black rivers, which always got my attention. Planes landing, and sailors’ bars and stuff. I don’t know why, but it got me.

When I did research for “The Sopranos,” I found out that the Meadowlands is the largest urban wilderness in the world — I can’t think of another urban wilderness, but that’s OK. I speak about the Meadowlands because it really did open up my imagination, first to the rest of the state, then the rest of the country, and the rest of the world. Thank you, New Jersey, for everything, really. Including Taylor ham.


Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJArts.net to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.


Custom Amount

Personal Info

Donation Total: $20.00

Explore more articles:

Leave a Comment

Sign up for our Newsletter