6.18 Little Italy

Ruth-Anne: I want to tell you about the time my friend Chris Stevens flung a piano with a medieval siege weapon known as a trebuchet. Chris is our local D.J., a self-taught, ex con, mail-order minister with a passion for the transcendent. The piano in question was a 1943 Baldwin upright--good, solid mahogany which had been hauled all the way to Alaska... Ed knew that Maggie ended up with this piano and had no use for it, Chris got it free of charge and the fling was on. Chris told us all to meet him out at Ivory Springer's farm where... flew into space, leaving a vapor trail of broken keys in its wake, and when at last it fell to earth and broke into a million pieces, our spirits were elsewhere, somewhere still aloft in the clouds. (6)

Original Air Date(2): March 15, 1995

Production Number: 77820

Written by(1): Jeff Melvoin

Directed by(1): Steve Craig

Log line: Phil discovers Cicely has an Italian neighborhood and gets caught in a war between two families; Maggie plays marriage counselor for Holling and Shelly; Ruth-Anne is on NPR's "All Things Considered."

Synopsis(1): Surprise, surprise. After six seasons, it seems that Cicely still holds some wild cards. Little Italy, consisting of four houses at the corner of Caribou and Third, has caught the attention of our newest resident, Dr. Phillip Capra. Yes, one whiff of "Aunt Gemma's spaghetti sauce" and Phil's off and running, practically breaking down the door of the local Italian eatery to get at that sauce. Home at last, Phil transforms himself into the quintessential Italian male, swapping stories of good old Cantanzaro and sipping grappa with the best of them, much to the dismay of his lovely wife, Michelle. Although Phil gets caught in the middle of the Grippo/Cusomano feud, he ends up moderating peace talks between the two camps. On a similar note, Maggie acts as marriage counselor to Holling and Shelly after Holling blows his stack, kicking around a couple of boxes and socking a moosehead.

And finally, NPR's "All Thing's Considered" pays Ruth-Anne a visit, interviewing her within the context of her Alaskan home. Ruth-Anne is annoyed as residents bombard her with criticisms, comments and suggestions. As Maurice so eloquently puts it: "Never underestimate the ability of the American public to buy tee-shirts -- not to mention coffee mugs, beach towels, refrigerator magnets."

Details(2):Little Italy, corner of Caribou and Third, consists of four houses and four families: the Grippos, the Cusomanos, the Trapanis and the Masellos.

Occupations of some of Cicely's more prominent Italian residents: Cesare Trapani - retired nuclear physicist, worked with Fermi on the Manhattan Project; Bob Masello - writes instruction manuals for Olivetti; Lowell Grippo runs a contracting business and local restaurant, Stella del Nord.

Cuisine: Smoked buffalo mozzarella, roasted peppers, clams oreganato, ptarmigan cacciatora, Brunello, Marolo di Lissinni grappa.

Most Memorable Quote: "Your roots? Phil, the only time you act even remotely Italian is after you've seen a Scorcese picture".

Guest Stars: (1)
Hayden Keyes - James L. Dunn
Eugene - Earl Quewezance
Walt - Moultrie Patten

Chezara Treppano - Ralph Manza
Momma - Sue Morales (also appeared in 2.2, 5.5)
Joe Cusomano - Joe Nipote
Angela Cusomano - Nancy Cassaro
Lowel Grippo - Richard Romanus
Mama Grippo - Penny Santon
Waiter - Sefano Lo Verso
Marsello - Harry Pringle
Himself - Robert Segal
Extra - Abraham/Lynn

Music: [Help! Email me if you know these missing tunes.]
• italian opera when Michelle and Phil argue over the fight.

• Hip-Hug-Her - Booker T. and the MGs [From the Music From Northern Exposure soundtrack.]
[Maggie tries to plant the bush pilot idea with Ruth-Anne.]

• 50s boy band love song when Joe Cusomano and Dr. Capra face off in Ruth-Anne's store.

• Operator - The Manhatten Transfer (?)
[Hollings tells Shelly she needs to apologize.]

• another Italian opera when Lowel, Phil and Michelle talk about the feud.

• yet another Italian opera when Phil makes his desert.

• I Only Have Eyes for You - The Flamingos
[Maggie tells Shelly that she thinks Holling doesn't know how to tell her he's mad.]

• italian instrumental at end during the parade.

Shelly's Earrings:

Additional Notes :
On Ruth-Anne's first NPR broadcast, she mentions that the piano [3.14] was a 1943 Baldwin upright, a smooth mahagony wood. Her show is called "Tales From Cicely."

Robert Segal is the actual host on All Things Considered. Listen Remembering Peg Philipps after her death in 2002.

It's in the charter that as Mayor, Maggie has to keep domestic peace.

Feast of San Gussepi - first time in nine years.

The house with the Italian restaurant.

The Cusomano's house next door.

Footnotes and additional research:
1. MCA TV Promotional Kit dated 9/27/95
2. Revised NE Bible: New and Improved fro 94-95 season! Memo from: Ursula Wendel and Cynthia Cohen- Gugisch
3. Print-out of Jude Shabry's music list from the Moose's Guide to Northern Exposure.
4. Intertain 2000 collection of NX music online
5. Geoff's Miscellany
6. Kevin Wright's Culture NX Quotes for Season 6.

Created 3/9/02 • Updated 1/6/18

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