Sopranos fans who sample the premiere of NBC's Kingpin (Sunday at 10 pm/ET) expecting the crime-family serial to be a Latin-flavored rehash of HBO's Mob hit can just fughedaboudit. Although the new drama features onetime Sopranos guest star Yancey Arias in the lead role of ambivalent drug czar Miguel Cadena, and is directed by frequent Sopranos helmer Allen Coulter, its twice-told tale owes no greater debt to Big Pussy than it does to the Bard.
"We all love The Sopranos, but Kingpin is more like The Godfather meets Traffic with a little bit of Shakespeare added," Arias suggests to TV Guide Online. "It's a different show altogether.
"When you first met Tony Soprano," he continues, "he was a very dark character, and through therapy, he found some goodness inside of him that started to [impact] the decisions he made. Miguel, on the other hand, starts off a very good character, but throughout each episode, you realize that whatever goodness is inside of him is starting to decay. You really root for him to hold onto it if he can."
Regardless of Kingpin's underworld history, Arias's searing performance as the mafioso of the title is sure to get him crowned an overnight sensation. This, despite the fact that he's been paying his dues on every cop show from NYPD Blue to Law & Order for nearly two decades!
"It's a good payoff after 17 years," laughs the newlywed native New Yorker, a veteran of Broadway's Miss Saigon and The Wild Party. "NBC allowing me to play this part is a great honor. I brought a lot of dimensions to this guy that allow me to say today that I can sleep at night, knowing the hard work that I put into it. I did my best, and that's what matters... at least to me!"