4:15pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
HBO Reviving James Gandolfini Passion Project 'Big Dead Place'
HBO is looking to revive late actor-producer James Gandolfini's passion project Big Dead Place.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the drama is heating up with an eye of going directly into production at the premium cable network. To that end, The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire alum Tim Van Patten has been hired to serve as director and executive producer on the project.
First put in development in September 2011, before the Sopranos star's sudden death in June 2013, the drama is inspired by Nicholas Johnson's memoir Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange & Menacing World of Antarctica, which chronicles his work in the U.S. Antarctic Program.
The HBO take is described as a 21st century survival tale that takes viewers into the harsh world of Antarctica, where scientists, bureaucrats and blue-collar grunts working at McMurdo Station fight for the existence of the last unconquered continent.
The drama was originally eyed as a potential starring vehicle for Gandolfini.
Big Dead Place was one of multiple Gandolfini-produced projects left in limbo after the beloved actor's death.
Should Big Dead Place move forward, it would join a lengthy roster of HBO dramas that includes Game of Thrones and David Simon's newly ordered period porn drama The Deuce as well as the final season of The Leftovers. Buzzy entry Westworld, which recently shut down production, is still being eyed for a debut later this year. Next up for the cabler is rock drama Vinyl, due in February.
Van Patten, whose credits include The Pacific, Game of Thrones, The Wire and Sex and the City, is repped by CAA.