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No encore for ‘The Sopranos,’ says creator

New episodes begin in March, followed by eight bonus shows
/ Source: Reuters

For anyone who hopes HBO’s mob drama, “The Sopranos,” might return after its upcoming season, series creator and executive producer David Chase has one word -- fuggetaboutit.

HBO announced last summer the much-anticipated 12-part sixth season that launches in March would be followed by eight ”bonus” episodes to air beginning in January 2007.

But the Time Warner Inc.-owned  cable network had not said decisively whether those episodes would be the last.

Speaking to television critics gathered in Pasadena Friday, Chase and cast members said the Emmy-winning gangster series, a critical favorite that has become a marquee show for HBO, would indeed conclude with the upcoming batch of 20.

“There will be these 12 (upcoming episodes) and then another eight, and that will be the end,” Chase said when pressed.

He also cast strong doubt on speculation about a feature movie version of the show, which stars James Gandolfini as the conflicted New Jersey mob boss and family man Tony Soprano.

“We haven’t talked about it in a long time. ... It’s hard to see how it would work,” Chase said. “I think what we’re going to be doing the next year and a half would have been that movie.”

The show’s fifth season wrapped up in June of 2004.

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As in the past, Chase and his cast revealed little about how the upcoming episodes would unfold, or how the series would end. The creator said much of the action during the sixth season would be driven by fallout from an arrest and racketeering trial faced by the character Johnny “Sack” Sacramoni, a mob underboss played by Vince Curatola.

The season will include guest appearances by veteran actor Hal Holbrook as a scientist who becomes involved with the mob and by British performer Ben Kingsley playing himself.

Asked whether the show would end with the characters’ lives continuing through time or whether the Soprano saga would come to a definitive close, Chase said: “The truth is both.”

Gandolfini suggested he was ready to move on to more gentle roles when his TV mob days are over.

“I’m too tired to be a tough guy or any of that stuff anymore. We pretty much used all that up in this show,” he said.

The actor added he was working on plans to produce and star in a feature film about Ernest Hemingway and his relationship with pioneering war correspondent Martha Gellhorn. Gellhorn covered the Spanish Civil War with Hemingway during the 1930s and became his third wife.