James Gandolfini wasn’t just a special actor, he was a busy one. When the former “Sopranos” star died yesterday at the age of 51 of a heart attack, he had so many roles in the pipeline with the channel that made him famous, “he was worried people would be sick of seeing him on HBO,” his friend and colleague, Patrick Healy, told Entertainment Weekly today.
A source close to one of those HBO productions, “Criminal Justice,” told the Huffington Post that “it’s too early to discuss” the fate of the show, which has a pilot already shot. The limited series was to star Gandolfini as a New York City attorney defending an accused murderer of Pakistani descent. Deadline speculates, however, that the show may simply be recast, as Gandolfini’s was a tertiary character.
Director Steven Zaillian wouldn't comment on the fate of the show, but in a statement to the Huffington Post, called Gandolfini “a real man.” “Honest, humble, loyal, complicated, as grateful for his success as he was unaffected by it.”
Then there's the beautiful dream of “Bone Wars.” Another HBO production, it was to star Gandolfini and Steve Carrell as Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, famous paleontologists who became rivals after the Civil War. The real-life duo could be called the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of their time: brilliant competitors whose race to beat each other led to a golden age in their nascent industry (in the case of Cope and Marsh, their volley resulted in the discovery of more than 100 new species in America).
HBO hasn’t commented publicly on the fate of the film, whose script isn’t written yet. A call placed by the Huffington Post went unanswered.
Another Gandolfini-led HBO film with an uncertain future, “Eating With The Enemy,” had him as a New Jersey restaurateur with Don Quixote-ish delusions of grandeur. Healey, who is writing the script, told EW the project needs a director capable of landing a compelling new star to see the light of day, adding, “although, I can’t imagine anyone better than Jim.”