Kelly MacDonald, <i>Boardwalk Empire</i> Kelly MacDonald, Boardwalk Empire

The gang was (almost) all there for the premiere of HBO's new Jersey crime epic Boardwalk Empire — the Sopranos gang, that is. Former cast members including James Gandolfini, Steven Van Zandt, Tony Sirico, Vincent Curatola and Aida Turturro as well as creator David Chase showed up for Boardwalk's splashy New York premiere on Sept. 15 thanks to its multiple Sopranos connections. After all, the series stars Steve Buscemi, who played Tony's inept cousin, and was created by Terence Winter, an Emmy-winning writer for The Sopranos.

Want more Boardwalk scoop? Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!

Winter had considerable research to do before attempting to create an authentic representation of Atlantic City during Prohibition. "It took me about six months before I was even comfortable putting pen to paper," says Winter. "I spent a long time researching this era — World War I, Prohibition, the Suffrage Movement, pop culture, on and on before I felt I knew what 1920 was about."Buscemi plays Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, Atlantic City's treasurer and the show's lead gangster, and yet he still doesn't feel like he's the star. "I feel like it's an ensemble cast and I have a great part," says Buscemi. "There are many great parts. My character, he's the anchor, ya know? But there's so many wonderful roles and so many wonderful stories that I don't feel like that I'm carrying it. I feel like it's really a group effort."Part of that group is the ridiculously busy Mark Wahlberg, who's also an exec producer. So can we look forward to one of the gangsters uttering his signature phrase (at least according to

SNL), "Say hello to your mother for me," in a future episode? "Why not?" said Wahlberg, "I gotta tell Terry Winter to do that."The star-studded crowd feasted on Atlantic City-themed cuisine like lobster tails, crab legs and clams casino and at the Rockefeller Center post-premiere party. Women dressed as 1920's showgirls handed out red carnations for men to wear on their lapels as well as salt-water taffy (other desserts included pink cotton candy and black-and-white cookies). Spotted in the crowd were Boardwalk costars Kelly MacDonald, Michael Pitt, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Stuhlbarg and Gretchen Mol as well as celebs like Chris Noth, Stanley Tucci, Aaron Paul, Aidan Quinn, Luis Guzman and Richard Belzer; and literary types (Salman Rushdie, Fran Lebowitz). Also seen at the red-carpet premiere: Barbara Walters, Rudy Giuliani and NYC police commissioner Ray Kelly, which may explain why the crowd was on its best behavior.Sirico, who played Paulie Walnuts on The Sopranos, is still hoping for a film version of the HBO show. "I've mentioned it many times to David [Chase]," he says. "I say, 'You didn't keep [my character] alive for nothin', David.' And he laughs, but he's got other things, I guess. But we gotta do it. It ended unresolved." That ending, of course, featured the Journey song "Don't Stop Believin'" which Sirico "became a big fan of." He also noted its recent usage on Glee. Wait, Paulie Walnuts watches Glee? "Well, now and then," says Sirico. "What, that's shocking?" Not necessarily, but perhaps he isn't the typical demographic. "What about Criminal Minds, that make you happier?"(Additional reporting by Bruce Fretts)

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!