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James Gandolfini Gave $33,000 Checks to 16 ‘Sopranos’ Castmates Following HBO Contract Dispute

James Gandolfini Gave $33,000 Checks to 16 ‘Sopranos’ Castmates Following HBO Contract Dispute..  An excerpt from Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers reveals James Gandolfini gave checks for $33,000 to 16 castmates from The Sopranos after he and HBO resolved a contractual dispute that nearly derailed the series, per the New York Post.
James Gandolfini Gave $33,000 Checks to 16 'Sopranos' Castmates Following HBO Contract Dispute
James Gandolfini Gave $33,000 Checks to 16 ‘Sopranos’ Castmates Following HBO Contract Dispute—-

 

According to a 2003 Variety article, Gandolfini filed a lawsuit against HBO, accusing the network of a breach of contract for failing to notify him of a $20 million agreement with creator David Chase within 10 days. After receiving a third Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama series for his portrayal of Tony Soprano, Gandolfini may have also wanted to strike while the iron was hot heading into the show’s fifth season.

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The book alleges HBO agreed to double Gandolfini’s $5 million per season contract in 2001.

HBO filed a countersuit against Gandolfini for $100 million, citing the financial hit that would be taken by either potentially ending the series or filming without him. The stand-off between both parties resulted in the Season 5 premiere getting pushed a few months past its initial date. Former executive Chris Albrecht said the network decided to halt production on the show altogether in an effort to reach a deal with Gandolfini by jeopardizing the livelihood of his fellow cast.

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Gandolfini agreed to a $13 million contract that Albrecht said came out to “a million an episode.” Following the resolution of his deal, Gandolfini wrote out 16 checks for $33,000 each for his co-stars to try and make up for any inconvenience his contract issues with HBO may have caused.

“As good of an actor as he was, he was a better guy,” Sopranos co-star Steve Schirripa said on New York’s WFAN radio station in 2013. “A generous guy. The guy gave us $33,000 each—16 people. In Season 4 he called every one of the regular castmembers and gave us a check. He said, ‘Thanks for sticking by me.’ It’s like buying 16 people a car.”

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Former HBO CEO Jeff Bewkes told Tinderbox that he had grown “concerned about Gandolfini staying alive” because “occasionally he would go on a bender or a coke binge,” leading to a stop in production on The Sopranos. Albrecht, however, didn’t share these concerns about Gandolfini’s well-being, but felt that his behavior came across as a “lack of respect for the other actors.”

 

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