David Chase: ‘The Sopranos wouldn’t get made today’

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The Sopranos creator David Chase doesn’t believe the iconic TV mobster drama would be commissioned if he pitched it in 2019.

Chase is making a prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark, about lead character Tony Soprano’s childhood in New Jersey, but feels that if he pitched the show now, he’d probably be passed over in favour of a science-fiction or fantasy show.

Despite the HBO drama, which first aired in 1999, often being cited as a drama that changed TV and ushered in the current era of high quality and budget productions, the screenwriter and producer also believes its lead character, a mob boss in therapy played by the late James Gandolfini, would put people off.

“Tony Soprano is too fat,” he tells British newspaper The Guardian. “He’s too crude. Who cares about New Jersey? I’ve seen these guys before. It’s not dystopian enough. Everything seems to be dystopian now, and this isn’t.”

However, he says TV executives have always been fickle, so it’s always a struggle to get a show made.

“They buy something then they hate it,” he explains. “They hate whatever they buy. They’re all excited when they buy it, a week goes by and then they hate it. They hated Seinfeld. All that.”

The Sopranos was initially snubbed by several networks before executives at HBO picked up what would become one of their biggest hits. Chase, 74, blames himself for the show’s initial failure, as he tried to tone down the pilot script.

“It was a mob show but I didn’t have anybody murdered,” he adds. “And I think that might’ve been one of the reasons why it didn’t sell.”

The Many Saints of Newark is due out in September next year.

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