By Scott Brown
August 22, 2006 at 08:26 PM EDT
  • TV Show

PopWatch HQ buzzes with excitement at James Gandolfini’s new production deal, which his new production company set up to create cable series and feature films for the HBO/New Line joint venture Picturehouse. He’s already got a Hemingway biopic in development, with himself in the lead. But what else should the ex-Mobster play, once he’s firmly ensconced in the Hollywood witness protection program also known as the multi-platform development deal?

Let’s leave aside the Gandolfini dreams of yesteryear: Presumably, he’s no longer interested in a Gleason biopic or Honeymooners remake, having watched the latter project morph into a ho-hum Cedric the Entertainer movie. Some voices around here want him to play a porn king, an eavesdropping plumber — sleazebag lummox roles, in other words. I’m sure he’d knock them out of the park.

But for my money, I’d like to see Gandolfini assay a massively popular evangelist; not one of those badly toupeed, toothy TV healers  of old, but a Rick Warren type: the very image of a regular middle-American guy who just so happens to command a flock of millions and a massive republic of faith. (Warren wrote The Purpose-Driven Life.) We want to see Gandolfini in charge. We want to see him conflicted. We want to see him wielding moral authority of one sort or another — wielding it well, wielding it badly, dealing with the consequences. And this gives us all of the above, in a decidedly un-Sopranos milieu.

What do you think? How would you put the Big G to work?

addCredit(“James Gandolfini: Brian Ach/”)

  • TV Show
  • 01/10/99-06/17/07
  • In Season
Complete Coverage
Available For Streaming On