CBS kicked off its pilot pickup season today with a order to Taxi-22, a single-camera comedy that had been shepherded by the late James Gandolfini. CBS bought the project, with Gandolfini on board to executive produce, in early June, just two weeks before the Emmy-winning actor’s tragic death. Taxi-22, an adaptation of the hit French Canadian single-camera comedy, had been a passion project for Gandolfini, who first developed it at HBO where his Attaboy banner had a deal. The project went through three incarnations at the pay cable network with different writers and Gandolfini loosely attached to play the lead at one point. When the project, about a misanthropic and politically incorrect NYC cab driver in the vein of Archie Bunker, was sold to CBS in June, there was no writer attached, with Gandolfini executive producing alongside Dennis Erdman and Clark Peterson, the original series’ creator/star, top Canadian comedian Patrick Huard, his producing partner François Flamand, as well as Gandolfini’s managers, Nancy Sanders and Mark Armstrong. (Erdman and Peterson had licensed the format rights from Huard and Flamand and brought the project to Gandolfini.) When Gandolfini died, the project’s team was “devastated” but decided to carry on, Peterson told me back then. “I can confirm that the development of Taxi-22 will continue, but we’ll always be flying in the missing-man formation,” he said.
The next projects of a hot YouTube star, an Olympic swimmer and a unidirectional boy band, the latest news for Vampire Academy and Fifty Shades Of Grey movies, and the painful shocks of two much-loved actors’ early deaths were among the year’s 20 most retweeted and shared posts from Deadline on our main Twitter feed, @Deadline. Three subjects earned multiple visits to the Top 20: the band One Direction (if you include the Labor Day box office story on their concert movie) and the Vampire Diaries and Fifty Shades films. Here’s No. 1:
YouTube Star Shane Dawson Sells Autobiographical Comedy To NBC With Darlene Hunt & Will Gluck http://t.co/YG7yFZhrEC
— Deadline Hollywood (@Deadline) November 12, 2013
Check out the rest of the timeline here: Our Biggest Tweets 2013. Any surprises for you among the Top 20?
‘Boardwalk Empire’ At NY PaleyFest: Tony Soprano As Nucky Thompson? “One Of The First People We Talked About”, Creator Says
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
James Gandolfini as Boardwalk Empire kingpin Nucky Thompson? It might have happened had the stars aligned differently, the HBO drama’s creator and showrunner Terence Winter said today during the concluding panel of the PaleyFest: Made in NY event at New York’s Paley Center for Media. In response to a question from an audience member about actors other than Steve Buscemi who were considered to portray Nucky, Winter said that Gandolfini — who died in June — was “one of the first people we talked about” for the role. “Not only had we just worked with him,” Winter added, “but he also bore such an uncanny resemblance to the actual Nucky.” But Gandolfini was never really given serious consideration because he was coming off having portrayed an iconic gangster on The Sopranos, Winter admitted. A few other names came up, but because most people had no clue what the actual Nucky Thompson looked like, exec producer Martin Scorsese recommended that they just pick an actor they “really like and want to work with,” Winter said. “Then Marty called me up and said, ‘I can’t stop thinking about Steve Buscemi.’” I said, ‘I can’t either.’ And that was it.”
EXCLUSIVE: HBO is carrying on James Gandolfini’s legacy with Criminal Justice. Oscar winner Robert De Niro has stepped in to take over the role originally played by the beloved Sopranos star in the pilot. De Niro is attached to act in Criminal Justice, a seven-hour miniseries, with Gandolfini remaining an executive producer posthumously. (HBO previously greenlighted Criminal Justice with Gandolfini as a seven-part limited series in May). Steven Zaillian, who has been shepherding the project for over four years, is set to direct the first hour. Richard Price wrote Criminal Justice based on the BBC series created by Peter Moffat. On the mini, produced by HBO in association with BBC Worldwide Prods., Film Rites and Tribeca Films, De Niro joins originally cast Riz Ahmed, Bill Camp, Payman Maadi and Poorna Jagannathan. Production is eyed to begin in March.
It was unclear in the immediate aftermath of Gandolfini’s untimely June death in Rome whether HBO would proceed with Criminal Justice. But because Gandolfini had been so committed and passionate about the project, which he was getting ready to start filming upon his return from Rome, the network and Zaillian began exploring ways to do Criminal Justice in his honor. The New York crime story centers on an ambulance-chasing New York City attorney, the role originally played by Gandolfini, who gets in over-his-head when he takes on the case of a Pakistani (Ahmed) accused of murdering a girl on the Upper West Side. While the lawyer part is central to the overall story, in the pilot the character only appears in the final scene. That led to discussions between HBO and Zaillian about recasting the part, not an easy task as I hear the network and Zaillian were looking for a great actor whom Gandolfini would have wanted for the role and who would honor Gandolfini’s memory with his performance. I hear their list consisted of one name only, Robert De Niro, who responded and came on board.
EMMYS: Expanded In Memoriam Tributes Set For James Gandolfini, Gary David Goldberg, Cory Monteith, Jean Stapleton & Jonathan Winters
NoHo Arts District, CA. – September 16, 2013- This year’s Emmy® Awards will feature the traditional In Memoriam segment that has become an industry award show staple, and in addition, the telecast producers have selected five individuals who warrant special recognition. To honor them, close friends and co-workers have been invited to provide personal tributes which will be presented during the ceremony, held at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles and telecast live on Sunday, September 22nd, (8:00 PM EDT / 5:00 PM PDT) on the CBS Television Network.
Those who will provide special tributes include Edie Falco, who will remember Sopranos co-star James Gandolfini; Michael J. Fox who will pay tribute to Family Ties producer Gary David Goldberg; Jane Lynch will remember her friend and Glee co-star Cory Monteith; Rob Reiner will pay tribute to his long time All in the Family cast member Jean Stapleton; and Robin Williams will remember his friend and mentor Jonathan Winters (Mork and Mindy).
One day after HBO execs said they would not telecast the pilot for a drama series James Gandolfini filmed shortly before his death, the former head of HBO was asked at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013 to say something about the actor, who died last month of a heart attack at age 51. Starz chief Chris Albrecht, who’d headed programming at HBO when The Sopranos was picked up, with Gandolfini cast in the lead role, responded: “Gandolfini was part of years and experience and a project that changed my life and changed everybody’s lives that were intimately involved with it… He was an extraordinarily talented man, and in my opinion nobody has ever been better in anything than James was in The Sopranos. And he was a very nice man.”
TCA: HBO Brass On Future Of ‘Criminal Justice’, ‘The Newsroom’, ‘Game Of Thrones’, ‘True Blood’ & ‘Family Tree’
The recent death of James Gandolfini reverberated through the HBO executive session at TCA today. “Jim’s passing took the wind out of our sails,” HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo said when asked about the future of the recently greenlighted limited series Criminal Justice, which Gandolfini executive produced and was to star in. “I can’t imagine airing the pilot with James in it,” Lombardo said, noting that the network is in discussions with director Steven Zaillian about how to proceed. “Conversations would be about reshooting the portion in the pilot with Jim and recasting the role.” The project, written by Richard Price, was originally piloted as a traditional drama series last year. HBO passed on the pilot in February but then picked it up as a limited series in May. Price and Zaillian continue to work on scripts, Lombardo said.
There will be a third season of The Newsroom. “The odds are excellent – we’re enormously happy with the show,” Lombardo said. “Conversations with (creator) Aaron Sorkin are all about scheduling as he he has other commitments. If we can figure the scheduling, I will be shocked if you would not be hearing about a renewal soon. The numbers this season are surpassing last season.”
Fox Searchlight has dated Enough Said for a platform release September 20, just after the film has its world premiere as a special presentation at the Toronto Film Festival. The comedy written and directed by Nicole Holofcener stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Catherine Keener as well as James Gandolfini as Louis-Dreyfus’ love interest. Gandolfini died June 19 of a heart attack while traveling in Italy. The pic centers on Eve (Louis-Dreyfus), a divorced soon-to-be empty-nester wondering about her next act. Then she meets Marianne (Keener), the embodiment of her perfect self. Armed with a restored outlook on being middle-aged and single, Eva decides to take a chance on her new love interest Albert (Gandolfini), a sweet, funny and like-minded man — who also happens to be Marianne’s dreaded ex–husband. Toni Collette, Ben Falcone, Eve Hewson, Tavi Gevinson and Tracey Fairaway co-star, and Anthony Bregman produced.
Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall provided the transcript to The Sopranos creator’s euology of James Gandolfini today at the actor’s NYC funeral attended by castmates Edie Falco, Lorraine Bracco, Steve Buscemi, Julianna Margulies, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Joe Pantoliano, Dominic Chianese, Steve Schirripa, Aida Turturro, Vincent Curatola, Tony Sirico, Michael Imperioli, as well as the show’s executive producer Brad Grey. Others included Alec Baldwin, Chris Noth, Marcia Gay Harden, Steve Carell, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The 51-year-old Gandolfini died Wednesday of a heart attack in Italy. Chase was one of four speakers, including Gandolfini’s widow, who spoke at one of Manhattan’s largest churches Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine and gave his remarks in the form of a letter to the actor and quoted from Joan Osborne’s “(What If God Was) One Of Us?”:
Your family asked me to speak at your service, and I am so honored and touched. I’m also really scared, and I say that because you of all people will understand this. I’d like to run away and call in four days from now from the beauty parlor. I want to do a good job, because I love you, and because you always did a good job.
I think the deal is I’m supposed to speak about the actor/artist’s work part of your life. Others will have spoken beautifully and magnificently about the other beautiful and magnificent parts of you: father, brother, friend. I guess what I was told is I’m also supposed to speak for your castmates whom you loved, for your crew that you loved so much, for the people at HBO, and Journey. I hope I can speak for all of them today and for you.
I asked around, and experts told me to start with a joke and a funny anecdote. “Ha ha ha.” But as you yourself so often said, I’m not feelin’ it. I’m too sad and full of despair. I’m writing to you partly because I would like to have had your advice. Because I remember how you did speeches. I saw you do a lot of them at awards shows and stuff, and invariably you would scratch two or three thoughts on a sheet of paper and put it in your pocket, and then not really refer to it. And consequently, a lot of your speeches didn’t make sense. I think that could happen in here, except in your case, it didn’t matter that it didn’t make sense, because the feeling was real. The feeling was real. The feeling was real. I can’t say that enough.
I tried to write a traditional eulogy, but it came out like bad TV. So I’m writing you this letter, and now I’m reading that letter in front of you. But it is being done to and for an audience, so I’ll give the funny opening a try. I hope that it’s funny; it is to me and it is to you.
UPDATE, 6:10 AM:The Sopranos creator David Chase will be among those addressing mourners at today’s 90-minute funeral service for James Gandolfini . Other remembrances will be provideed by family members and family friends.
PREVIOUSLY, TUESDAY PM: HBO released this statement tonight: “The Gandolfini family would like to express their thanks for the outpouring of good wishes and support over the past week. The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Wounded Warrior Project, an organization which James was very passionate about and supported in countless ways.”
PREVIOUSLY, TUESDAY AM: By request of the Gandolfini family, media will not be permitted inside Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine during Thursday’s funeral of James Gandolfini. HBO, along with Rubenstein Communications, are making arrangements for media to cover the service from outside the Cathedral. It has not yet been determined whether that means a pool camera will be allowed inside the service.
Meanwhile, Broadway theater marquees will go dark for one minute at 8 PM Wednesday in tribute to Gandolfini. The actor, who died June 19 in Rome at 51, earned a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Play for his role in God Of Carnage, which ran from March 2009-June 2010. The show won the Tony for Best Play. “James Gandolfini was a consummate actor who brought individuality to each role and inspired a true connection with the audience,” Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League, said in a statement. “Whether on screen or on a Broadway stage, he made every role believable and seemingly effortless.” Gandolfini also had supporting roles on the Main Stem in A Streetcar Named Desire (1992) and On The Waterfront (1995).
PREVIOUS, SUNDAY AM: James Gandolfini‘s body may be repatriated back to the U.S. as early as Monday. …
UPDATE: A funeral service for James Gandolfini has been set for Thursday June 27, I’ve confirmed. It will be held at 10:00 AM at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan. …