Friday, June 23, 2006

A sit-down with the boss

Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano invites underlings Silvio Dante and Paulie Walnuts to a meeting...

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - James Gandolfini, star of HBO's mob drama "The Sopranos," is muscling into a salary dispute between two of his castmates and the cable network before production begins on the show's last batch of episodes.

With less than two weeks until the scheduled production start of the show's last eight episodes, Gandolfini is said to be looking to intervene in the network's standoff with Van Zandt and Sirico over their demands for higher pay.

Only a handful of "Sopranos" actors -- including Emmy winners Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli and Vincent Curatola -- have closed deals to appear in the final installments of the HBO gangster drama.

Following the network's decision in the summer to extend the sixth season of "Sopranos" from 13 to 20 episodes -- 12 to air this year and eight in 2007 -- the cast of the Emmy-winning series began negotiations for substantial salary increases for the final batch of episodes.

With the first table read scheduled for July 5, several key cast members, including Lorraine Bracco, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Steven Schirripa and John Ventimiglia, have not signed on the dotted line to continue.

But it has been Sirico and Van Zandt, who play iconic characters Paulie Walnuts and Silvio Dante, respectively, who have had the toughest and most publicized renegotiations.

With each of the two actors and HBO still more than $500,000 apart on the money, and Sirico and Van Zandt not budging on their $200,000-an-episode asking price -- more than double their most recent fee -- a conclusion of the groundbreaking series without Paulie and Silvio looms as a real possibility.


Maybe he'll give each of them one of these delightful horsehead pillows...


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