February 19, 2013 3:23pm PT by Lacey Rose
HBO Passes on James Gandolfini's 'Criminal Justice' Pilot
HBO is not moving forward with its high-profile James Gandolfini project.
The premium cable network that made its name in originals with the actor's long-running drama The Sopranos, has opted not to order his latest drama pilot, Criminal Justice, to series. The adaptation of Peter Moffat's 2008 BBC crime drama had Gandolfini on board to star.
The original New York-set drama tracked a person on trial for murder through the court process, with each of its two five-episode seasons consisting of a new cast. HBO's installment would revolve around the first arc, which tracked Ben Whishaw as Ben, a guy who wakes up after a night of partying with a stranger to find her stabbed to death and is charged with her murder.
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Oscar-winning scribe Steven Zaillian had been tapped to co-pen the pilot and direct, with Richard Price -- an Oscar nominee for The Color of Money -- on board to join him as a writer. For his part, Gandolfini would have starred as Jack Stone, a downtrodden jailhouse attorney who frequents police stations for clients. There he finds Naz (Rizwan Ahmed), a U.S.-born Pakistani. The cast was rounded out by Bill Camp, Peyman Moadi and Poorna Jagannathan.
Had the pilot moved to series, Zaillian and Price would have served as executive producers alongside Jane Tranter, Moffat, Nancy Sanders, Mark Armstrong and Gandolfini as well as producer Garrett Basch. The New York-based entry was being executive produced by HBO in association with BBC Worldwide Productions.
Gandolfini has remained close with his longtime network home, having co-starred in the HBO telepic Cinema Verite and serving as an exec producer in its 2012 film Hemingway & Gellhorn. In the past year, the premium net has passed on such potential series as Spike Lee’s Da Brick, Doug Ellin's comedy 40 and Noah Baumbach’s The Corrections.
Three drama pilots remain in contention at the HBO: The Missionary, starring Ben Walker; Buda Bridge, from Michael Mann and Michael R. Roskam; and Damon Lindelof's adaptation of Tom Perrotta's The Leftovers.
Lesley Goldberg contributed to this report.