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HBO Whacks James Gandolfini Pilot

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James Gandolfini

Well, this is surprising.

James Gandolfini turned HBO into the place for high-caliber television thanks to his legendary performance on The Sopranos. Now, the network has declined to order the pilot to Gandolfini’s Criminal Justice, according to “The Hollywood Reporter.”

What’s even more amazing is that Gandolfini wasn’t the only talent involved. For the first season, Ben Whishaw would have starred. Oscar-winning writer Steve Zaillian was on board to write and direct with Richard Price (“Ransom,” “Freedomland,” “Clockers”) set to join as a writer.

THR doesn’t explain why the show failed, but Gandolfini shouldn’t be too upset. The network has also rejected TV series from Spike Jonze, Doug Liman, and Noah Baumbach.  Clearly, HBO has raised the bar since the heady days of Arli$$.

For those who are interested, here’s the plot for Criminal Justice:

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 would 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 is charged with her murder…For his part, Gandolfini would have starred as Jack Stone, a downtrodden jailhouse attorney who frequents police stations for clients. 

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