On Serpico and Tony Soprano

April 14, 2019

Tony Soprano, titular anti-hero of HBO's ground-breaking television show The Sopranos, when asked by his new psychiatrist what line of business he was in, replied, "Waste management consultant."  

This, of course, was shading the truth just a bit, but the fictional mob boss, played by the late, great actor James Gandolfini, managed to say it with a straight face, thus bringing to the collective consciousness of a nation the endemic corruption in East Coast garbage collection. There’s likely not a person alive who doesn’t now associate waste management with criminal enterprise.

John and Dan Samoles, like Tony, are natives of New Jersey.

If asked, they would give Dr. Melfi the same answer as Tony Soprano. But unlike the fictional crime lord, they actually did make a living as real-life waste management consultants. 

The difference is that the Samoles brothers were honest brokers, known inside the industry as the Serpicos of waste management, if you don't mind mixing a little classic film with your TV analogies.

Spending so much time swimming in a sea of corruption took its toll on Dan and John, and after leaving the business, the Samoles brothers are ready to tell their story, revealing the roots of their steadfast refusal to take bribes in a business fueled by envelopes stuffed with cash, hookers on yachts, and all manner of other elicit enticements and requirements of the trade.

But the New Jersey tough guys, who faced down the mob, dirty cops, and massive corruption in the course of their business lives, realized that when it came to their life story, they needed a professional ghostwriter. So they Googled ghostwriting services, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Or at least they hope it will be. 

They recently hired a ghostwriter and now have a completed screenplay, which they plan to market, sell, and then hopefully join their more famous brother-in-garbage-collection on the big or small screen, whichever offers the largest payday. After so many years of refusals in refuse, the garbage men are finally ready to take a payoff.

Theirs is a darkly comic tale of menacing gangsters, clownish cops, and ruthless competitors who will stop at nothing to put the brothers out of business - forever. 

During the course of a police interrogation on trumped-up charges, their outrageous story emerges. A sainted mother, a drunken father, and blood-sucking siblings all make an appearance, along with all those cops and criminals, some of which are hard to tell apart. There's even a cameo by a strangely familiar orange-haired developer with an affinity for Russians and an aversion to paying his bills. Once they bail out of jail, their recent bid on a huge contract is accepted, saving their business from corrupt competitors bent on its destruction. But all is not as it seems. The new contract is a ruse designed to facilitate a different kind of contract - on their lives. Fortunately, the assassin with the car bomb is thwarted by the Feds, who arrive at the last possible moment and accidentally save their lives. Unlike the famous, or infamous ending to the Sopranos, the Samoles brothers have commissioned a suitably bittersweet resolution. The business goes under without the contract and the Samoles brothers retire, albeit on their own terms, honest to the end. The Serpicos of waste management are bloody but unbowed, their adventures in garbage finally tossed.

The brothers have also generated interest in their story outside the realm of cinema, as evidenced by a recent segment that aired on a CBS affiliate in New Jersey on corruption in trash collection. Apparently, the authorities have taken notice. 

It's possible the criminal elements they left behind in waste management will too, but the brothers aren't worried. They've seen it all before. Ironically, by being honest, they broke every rule in the book. 

Tony Soprano once told his trusted lieutenant, Paulie Walnuts, "If you can quote the rules, then you can obey the rules."

The Samoles brothers, by publicly outing the corruption of the industry, think otherwise. 

And as their ghostwriter advised them about Hollywood, "There are no rules, and exceptions to all of them." 

In other words, whatever works, works.

The Samoles brothers think Tony Soprano would agree. They’re not so sure about Serpico.

If you're ready to tell your story, drop us an email or call 323-539-7635 for a free consultation. 

No envelopes stuffed with cash or hookers required.