It was only a matter of time before James Gandolfini found his way back to television and it comes as no surprise that he would return to HBO, what with the freedom that network provides its programming. It’s been five years since The Sopranos came to an end, a long enough period of time to have gone by that I feel comfortable disassociating Gandolfini from the role that defined him for so many years. I am more than ready to see what else he can do outside of his Tony Soprano character. As you would expect, this new project will put Gandolfini in the complete opposite side of the law than Tony ever was, as any actor ought to do when following up an acclaimed role.
The news of Gandolfini’s new project came from TVLine, where we learned it will be called Criminal Justice and has been given the greenlight for a pilot. The drama, from co-writers Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) and Richard Price (The Color of Money), is loosely based on a BBC series of the same name and will follow a man as he navigates his life after being charged with murder in the New York City justice system.
HBO’s series will follow an American-born Pakistani cab driver (Riz Ahmed) who finds a girl stabbed to death in his bed following a night of heavy partying. Gandolfini will be playing Jack Stone, a low-rent jailhouse lawyer that appoints himself as the cab driver’s attorney when he finds him in a holding cell. He must be a good guy if he’s going to pick up his case based on a brief run in while in holding. Gandolfini will also serve as executive producer of Criminal Justice, which will begin filming this fall in New York City. With any luck, this will turn into another vehicle for Gandolfini’s terrific acting chops right up there, in terms of quality, with The Sopranos.