James Gandolfini and James Caan are both returning to television in crime series
The iconic actors who portrayed Sonny Corleone and Tony Soprano are coming to television in two very different series about the world of crime.
James Gandolfini will return to HBO, home of THE SOPRANOS, for the American adaptation of the BBC series CRIMINAL JUSTICE. Based on the title, you would think it was another crappy LAW & ORDER spin-off, but it is actually a more promising concept than that.
The BBC version of CRIMINAL JUSTICE ran for two seasons and followed the journey of a person charged with murder through the justice system, and each featuring new characters and cast. HBO’s version follows the plot of the first season of the British series, which starred Ben Whishaw as Ben Coulter, a young man who takes his father’s cab for a drive and picks up a party girl who takes him to her apartment for a drunken and drug-filled night out. When he wakes up in the morning, Ben finds the girl stabbed to death and, though he can’t remember committing the crime, he is soon charged with it.
Gandolfini will play Jack Stone, a disheveled jailhouse lawyer wearing cheap suits and sandals, who trolls for clients at police precincts, in the now New York set series. The pilot will be written by Steve Zaillian (SCHINDLER'S LIST) and Richard Price (THE COLOR OF MONEY). Zaillian will also direct.
Caan will be sticking closer to his GODFATHER roots when he joins the second season of the Starz mob series MAGIC CITY. Caan will play Sy Berman, the head of the Chicago mob and boss to Ben Diamond (Danny Huston). While MAGIC CITY showed a lot of potential in the first season, I expect it to grow quite a bit in the next set of episodes. It definitely has the chance to break of of the BOARDWALK EMPIRE meets MAD MEN mold that it was marketed as last year.
Both Caan and Gandolfini are great actors when utilized properly. Both can play against type very well, but when you lock these veterans into their comfort zone, they will chew the scenery with the best of them. I especially am looking forward to Caan butting heads with Danny Huston on MAGIC CITY. That will make for some memorable television.