The thought of a prequel movie to HBO’s The Sopranos still seems like a bad idea, but the project is swiftly moving forward as Variety has reported that David Chase and New Line Cinema have found their first star for the film in Alessandro Nivola.
The actor is currently in negotiations to star as Dickey Moltisanti in THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK, the uncle of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and father of Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). The character was deceased by the time the TV series began, but was mentioned as a key factor in transforming the small gang into the New Jersey crime family which we saw in The Sopranos. Alessandro Nivola has appeared in a number of high-profile projects in recent years, including AMERICAN HUSTLE, SELMA, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, and THE NEON DEMON, but personally, I’ll always think of him as Billy, Alan Grant’s (Sam Neill) annoying assistant in JURASSIC PARK III; you know, the one who steals the raptor eggs. THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK, which has been scripted by series creator David Chase and Lawrence Konner, will be set in the era of the Newark riots in the 60s. It was a time when the African-Americans and the Italians of Newark were at each other’s throats, and among the gangsters of each group, those conflicts became especially lethal.
THOR: THE DARK WORLD director Alan Taylor will be helming the prequel, and although his feature-film work hasn’t always been the most exciting, Taylor has helmed quite a number of standout episodes of excellent TV series in the past, including Homicide: Life on the Street, Oz, The West Wing, Deadwood, Rome, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, and of course The Sopranos, even winning a 2007 Emmy Award for directing. Although THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK is a prequel to the series, it still feels a little…wrong…moving forward without James Gandolfini. That said, I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK will prove to be a worthy addition to The Sopranos saga.