May 13, 2013 1:30pm PT by Lacey Rose, Lesley Goldberg
James Gandolfini Starrer 'Criminal Justice' Revived at HBO as Limited Series
In a rare twist, HBO is moving forward with a high-profile project for which it recently passed.
That project is the James Gandolfini drama Criminal Justice, an adaptation of Peter Moffat's 2008 BBC crime entry. HBO on Monday ordered seven hourlong episodes of the retooled New York-set crime drama with plans to air the entry as a seven-part limited series.
The reversal comes some two-plus months after HBO opted not to move forward. In the interim, the project garnered strong buzz and heavy interest from HBO rivals.
Oscar nominee Richard Price will write, with WME-repped Oscar-winning scribe Steven Zaillian set to direct and executive produce. Exec producers include Jane Tranter, Gandolfini, Moffat, Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders; Garrett Basch will produce.
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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 wakes up after a night of partying with a stranger to find her stabbed to death and charged with her murder.
Gandolfini will play Jack Stone, a downtrodden jailhouse attorney who frequents police stations for clients. Riz Ahmed (Naz, a Pakistani-American), Bill Camp (Box), Payman Maadi (Salim Kahn) and Poorna Jagannathan (Safar Kahn) round out the cast.
The New York-based entry is being produced by HBO in association with BBC Worldwide Productions.
Criminal Justice marks the latest limited "event" project to get a series nod. Fox earlier Monday officially revived Kiefer Sutherland's 24 as a 12-hour entry and picked up M. Night Shyamalan's Matt Dillon starrer Wayward Pines as the broadcast network looks to compete with the likes of HBO and attract top talent as it pushes forward with year-round original fare.