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James Gandolfini to Star in HBO Pilot 'Criminal Justice'

The New York-set crime drama is based on Peter Moffat's 2008 BAFTA-winning BBC series and is being adapted by Steven Zaillian and Richard Price.

James Gandolfini
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
James Gandolfini

The Sopranos star James Gandolfini could be coming home to HBO.

The premium cable network has given pilot orders to Criminal Justice, an adaptation of Peter Moffat's 2008 BBC crime drama with 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 will revolve around the first arc, which tracked Ben Whishaw as Ben, a guy who after a night of partying with a stranger, wakes up to find her stabbed to death and is charged with her murder.

Schindler's List Oscar winning writer Steven Zaillian will co-pen the pilot and direct, with The Color of Money Academy Award nominee Richard Price on board to co-write as well.

Gandolfini will star as Jack Stone, a downtrodden jailhouse attorney who frequents police stations for clients. There, he finds a client: Naz, an American-born Pakistani. Rizwan Ahmed will play Naz in the pilot, which also co-stars Bill Camp as Box, Peyman Moadi as Salim Kahn and Poorna Jagannathan as Safar Kahn, Naz's parents.

HBO, who will executive produce the project in association with BBC Worldwide Productions, will film the pilot in the fall in New York. Zaillian and Price will executive produce alongside Jane Tranter, Moffat, Nancy Sanders, Mark Armstrong and Gandolfini, who would continue on in the role should Criminal Justice continue on for multiple seasons. Garrett Basch will produce.  

For the former Sopranos star, the vehicle marks the latest for him at the network. Most recently, he co-starred in the HBO telepic Cinema Verite and was an EP on its Hemingway & Gellhorn pic. 

Criminal Justice earned Moffat a BAFTA Award as best writer as well as best drama serial in 2009, with Matthew Macfadyen collecting a supporting actor prize in 2010. Whishaw took home the 2009 International Emmy for his leading role.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit