Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Sopranos Exclusive: David Chase Was Going to Kill Off Tony After the Diner Scene But Changed His Mind

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The ending of The Sopranos continues to be topic A at any gathering of its cast and creators.

Tonight was no different as HBO screened a 25th anniversary documentary by Alex Gibney called “Wiseguy: David Chase and the Sopranos” at the Beacon Theater for the Tribeca Festival.

The longish film is one of Gibney’s best ever. It’s very well organized as there are a lot of stories to tell. “Wiseguy” is full of revelations, laughs, tears. It also peels back Chase like an onion, Gibney does his best to explore Chase’s brilliant mind. The ending is such a clever surprise that drew a standing ovation from the Beacon crowd. It will be shown on HBO sometime later this year.

The breaking news from the film is that Chase admits he was planning to kill Tony Soprano off in the last episode. He said his plan was for Tony to leave the family in the diner and drive into New York for a meeting. He would be murdered on a bridge (not sure which one).

But Chase had already decided to use the Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believin'” for the finale. The lyrics “Whoa, the movie never ends/
It goes on and on and on and on” got his attention and he changed his mind. The movie — in this case the TV series — would never end. It would just go on and on and on.

Still, many people — this reporter included — feel that abruptly cutting to black before the song ended indicated that Tony or Tony and his family were murdered, probably by the man in the Members Only jacket. In the doc, after Chase reveals his original plan to Gibney, he declares: “Now they’ll say you got me!”

Lorraine Bracco says in the doc that she watched the finale with James Gandolfini, and that they were shocked by the ending. “Shocked!” she repeats. They had no idea what was coming. Michael Imperioli, who also wrote on the show, said that was typical David Chase.

Some other nuggets: Gandolfini gifted a lot of the cast with checks for $30,000 apiece after he renegotiated his contact for $1 million per episode. In the film, Edie Falco says this was a surprise to her. At the after party tonight, Kathrine Narducci told me she didn’t get a check, but Gandolfini gifted her a watch she still treasures.

Also: the cast nickname for Chase was “the master cylinder” because every change to the script had to go through him.

Guests last night included Chase, writer Terence Winter, “Mad Men” creator Matt Weiner, who wrote for Chase the last two seasons, plus Edie Falco, 93 year old Dominic Chianese, Aida Turturro, Steve Schirripa,  Annabella Sciorra, Michael Imperioli, Jamie Lyn Sigler, Robert Iler, Steve Buscemi, Joe Pantoliano, Al Sapienza, 95 year old Jerry Adler (looking spiffy in a suit, though he uses a wheelchair), and Drea De Matteo (who says in the film that when she went on the audition she thought “The Sopranos” was about opera singers!).

Also spotted in the audience: former HBO chief Jeff Bewkes, and famed Nobu restaurateur Drew Nieporent.

And what is Chase doing these days? After “The Sopranos” he made “The Many Saints of Newark,” which I liked. He told me, “People hated it.” Chase is a genius, but does not take himself lightly. Anyway, I can tell you exclusively that he and Winter are working on a horror movie together. So stay tuned…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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