''Sopranos'' production halted -- James Gandolfini's lawsuit means the show won't start shooting this month

By Brian Hiatt
Updated March 13, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
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With salary negotiations stalled between James Gandolfini and HBO, the network has halted plans to begin shooting the fifth season of ”The Sopranos” this month. ”The start of production is postponed indefinitely,” an HBO spokesperson told the New York Daily News. In a would-be contract-voiding lawsuit filed last week, Gandolfini threatened not to show up for the fifth season, and HBO — which has already countersued — is now saying that it doesn’t want him until his salary demands are resolved, according to the Daily News.

Gandolfini’s lawsuit, apparently intended to prod along salary negotiations, instead brought them to a halt, according to Variety. ”Gandolfini’s agents believe they’re holding a gun to HBO’s head to get them to pay this massive salary increase, but it’s really a water pistol — and doesn’t even have any water in it,” HBO lawyer Bert Fields told the trade paper.

Sources on HBO’s side told Variety that Gandolfini’s salary demands are much higher than previously reports suggest — they claim he’s asking for as much as $27 million for the next season, or more than $2 million an episode. Previous reports suggested that he was asking for about $1 million an episode. Gandolfini spokesperson Dan Klores didn’t respond directly to HBO’s comments, but told Variety: “Let HBO say whatever they want to say. It should be beneath them to treat one of their biggest stars, moneymakers and friends like this.”

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