The existence of the short was revealed yesterday on rapper Chuck D’s podcast, Shattered: Hope, Heartbreak and the New York Knicks,
“I couldn’t believe that it didn’t work,” said Falco, speaking on the podcast. “Not so much because of The Sopranos. I just thought, it’s New York. How does anyone say no to New York, for God’s sake? But he did!”
Jonathan Hock, who has directed several of ESPN’s 30 For 30 documentaries, handled the 10-minute short. Guest stars included Donald Trump, Robert De Niro, and super Knicks fan Spike Lee.
“I do remember doing it and what is absolutely amazing to me is I didn’t know who LeBron James was,” Falco said. “We got those requests all the time back then and Jim Gandolfini, he did nothing. And somehow, he agreed to this thing, which I was shocked by. I thought it was a prank when someone said Jim’s going to do it.”
Gandolfini was actually a major sports fan, and made some promotional videos to boost the football program of his alma mater, New Jersey’s Rutgers University. He also appeared frequently on the team’s sideline for games.
The LeBron video was shot in Gandolfini’s New York apartment. The premise was that Gandolfini’s Tony had not died in the diner as hinted at by the TV show, but was actually in the witness protection program. “There he was, dressed as Tony … he must have been a bigger basketball fan than I realized,” Falco said.
Alas, Gandolfini and his crew could not convince James to take his talents to New York. Instead, he announced on a live TV show called The Decision that he was moving to Miami.
The 10-minute short remains unseen and presumably will never leave its own protection program.