One day after HBO execs said they would not telecast the pilot for a drama series James Gandolfini filmed shortly before his death, the former head of HBO was asked at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013 to say something about the actor, who died last month of a heart attack at age 51. Starz chief Chris Albrecht, who’d headed programming at HBO when The Sopranos was picked up, with Gandolfini cast in the lead role, responded: “Gandolfini was part of years and experience and a project that changed my life and changed everybody’s lives that were intimately involved with it… He was an extraordinarily talented man, and in my opinion nobody has ever been better in anything than James was in The Sopranos. And he was a very nice man.”
Yesterday afternoon, HBO chief Richard Plepler, and programming head Michael Lombardo said the pilot for Gandolfini’s new HBO drama Criminal Justice would not be shown. The series itself could be re-cast and the scenes in which Gandolfini appears would be re-shot. “I can’t imagine us airing the pilot with James in it. … It’s taken some time to be able to have conversations with [executive producer Steve Zaillian] about the future of that,” Lombardo acknowledged.