HBO Closing Out 2013 With James Gandolfini Tribute Special

The cable network, which helped the late actor rise to fame with "The Sopranos," will air the remembrance on Dec. 22.
James Gandolfini

Of the many Hollywood deaths mourned in 2013, few were as surprising as that of James Gandolfini. The Emmy-winning actor, best known for his lead role in HBO's The Sopranos, died of a heart attack, on June 19, at just 51 years old.

PHOTOS: James Gandolfini's Life and Career in Pictures

HBO, his home network of so many years, announced Wednesday its plans to honor him with a retrospective special before the end of the year. James Gandolfini: Tribute to a Friend premieres Sunday, Dec. 22, at 8:35 p.m.

With a 35-minute runtime, the special presentation will include original reflections from more than two dozen friends and colleagues who knew and worked with the actor. There also will be clips of his work, as well as behind-the-scenes footage.

HBO previously paid tribute to one of its most notable stars in July, when it started encoring every season of The Sopranos for on-demand subscribers.