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How will ''The Sopranos'' handle the death of Nancy Marchand?

EW talks to series creator David Chase

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The Sopranos

In light of Nancy Marchand’s recent death, how will ”The Sopranos” deal with the loss of the actress who played Livia? For now, the only thing creator David Chase knows for sure is that Tony’s manipulative mama won’t be recast. While Marchand’s failing health was common knowledge on the set of the HBO drama (she’d been suffering from cancer for five years), Chase says he assumed Marchand would be back for a third season. ”Maybe we were naive because she continued to work for so long, being sick, but then she’d bounce back,” he says. ”I went to see her a week before she died and I thought, ‘This is pretty serious. But she’s recovered before.”’

Production doesn’t begin until Aug. 1 for the drama’s March 2001 return, which gives Chase plenty of time to rework the six scripts he’s already written — four of which were to have costarred Marchand. It’s unclear whether a funeral is planned for the first episode, but it’s safe to assume that Livia’s death will prompt the return of Tony’s archenemy: maternal guilt. ”He’s certainly prone to it,” says Chase.