Sideshow: Thousands pay respect to Tony Soprano

Thousands of fans converged Thursday morning at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on Manhattan's Upper West Side for James Gandolfini's funeral, joining scores of the actor's family and friends.

The cathedral, which had set aside 1,500 seats for mourners, was overwhelmed as fans vied for open spots after the invited guests were escorted to a reserved area.

The Rev. James A Kowalski, dean of the cathedral, led the service, stepping aside to allow four of Gandolfini's loved ones to offer remembrances, including his wife, Deborah Lin Gandolfini, and family friends Thomas Richardson and Susan Aston.

The Sopranos creator, David Chase, also spoke. HBO filmed the whole service as a tribute for Gandolfini's family, the New York Post reported. A coterie of Gandolfini's Sopranos costars were in attendance, including Edie Falco, Dominic Chianese, Joe Pantoliano, Aida Turturro, and Julianna Margulies.

Other notables included TV personality Dick Cavett and actors Steve Buscemi and Alec Baldwin, who was accompanied by his pregnant wife, Hilaria Thomas.

New Jersey Gov. Christie also was seen being escorted into the church. Gandolfini was a native of Westwood, in Bergen County, and his famous HBO TV show is set in North Jersey.

A private viewing for Gandolfini was held Wednesday night at the Robert Spearing Funeral Home in Park Ridge, 31/2 miles north of Westwood. Gandolfini's widow attended with the couple's 9-month-old daughter, Liliana, reports the New York Daily News.

"It's a nightmare for the whole family," Bob Price, whose wife is a Gandolfini cousin, told the tabloid. "It's a horrible, horrible thing. Everybody is just devastated."

Gandolfini, 51, died of a heart attack June 19 while on vacation in Rome. His son, Michael, 13, found him and called for help.


Jackson's son testifies

Emotions ran high Wednesday as Michael Jackson's eldest son, Michael Joseph "Prince" Jackson Jr., testified in a Los Angeles courtroom in the Jackson family's wrongful-death negligence civil suit.

Prince, 16, described in detail the scene of his father's death. He said he rushed to his father's aid when he heard screaming coming from MJ's bedroom upstairs. The singer's eyes were rolled to the back of his head as he lay halfway off the bed, Prince said. He said he watched as his father's personal physician, Conrad Murray, performed CPR.

"Nothing will ever be the same," Prince told the court. His eyes welled up as he described sleepless nights he has spent in the four years since his father died.

Prince said that his 11-year-old younger brother, Prince Michael "Blanket" Jackson II, had yet to fully process their loss, and that their sister, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, 15, had struggled the most. (Paris is being treated for depression at a Los Angeles hospital after a suicide attempt.)

Jury members were visibly moved when the court screened home videos of Michael Jackson hanging out with his children, including a moving sequence showing them at a Christmas party.

Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine, and his heirs are suing AEG Live, arguing that the company was negligent in hiring Murray to care for Jackson. The physician was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in November 2011.


Paltrow strips. Really!

No joke: blogger, chef, and actor Gwyneth Paltrow actually strips - down to a black bra and panties set - in a new trailer for her picture, Thanks for Sharing. The film even has Paltrow make out most passionately with costar Mark Ruffalo. Paltrow, 40, said at a September film festival the film was deadly serious about its subject matter, sex addiction.

It's "a real pathology," the thesp said, according to USA Today. "It was interesting to learn about it, see what the behavior is and what causes it, and how people are sober. It was very interesting. I learned a lot." Right. And she took off her clothes.


Tidbits: Celebs dare to love

Former Friends star Courteney Cox, who at 49 has been making young men's hearts go a-patter in Cougar Town, has chosen one of her costars, Brian Van Holt, 43, as a lover, says Us Weekly.


Contact "SideShow" at This column contains information from Inquirer wire services.