It must be a little hard for James Gandolfini. You're the lead on the best show of the last twenty years, and then just like that it's over, and the only thing anyone can see you as is Tony Soprano. It's like that season of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry is developing a sitcom based on an actor who can't shake off his popular role. Gandolfini has been searching for the right one to shake Tony since The Sopranos ended in 2007 and now he may have found it back at HBO.
According to Deadline Gandoldfini's Attaboy Films has had a deal with the network for over five years, which makes this new setup unsurprising. He just had a supporting role in the film Cinema Verite and he's producing the upcoming Hemmingway & Gellhorn drama with Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen, both at the network. But the project that has finally got him looking to get back front and center on the camera for a weekly series is an adaptation of Nicholas Johnson's memoir Big Dead Place, a dramedy about the U.S. Antarctic Program.
So, kind of like The Thing with no Thing. That's right--nothing-- which I think is the point. A lot of nothing. Boredom, fraternity, boredom, practical jokes, boredom, insanity. Makes for a more interesting project than at first glance and even more interesting since Peter Gould, a writer-producer on AMC's always solid Breaking Bad, is executive producing with Gandolfini and writing the pilot. Deadline notes that this isn't the first time Gould has worked with HBO, since he received an Emmy nomination for scripting the film of Andrew Sorkin's Too Big Too Fail for the network.
If you want a taste of the kind of humor found in the book and, hopefully, the upcoming series, visit author Nicholas Johnson's website, BigDeadPlace.com. The site is basically ripped straight from the book's pages, presented in the same irreverent style while bringing you all the boring and/or dangerous details of Antarctic employment. I'm not surprised Gandolfini went with an irreverent comedy for his return to a series since it's so different than the Tony Soprano role and he was so fantastic doing it in the hilarious In The Loop. I hope this moves in development fast, I'd like my weekly Gandolfini fix back.
Official synopsis from Feral House,
What goes on in Antarctica? Is it the pristine but harsh frontier where noble scientific missions are accomplished? Or an insane corporate bureaucracy where hundreds of workers are cooped together in hi-tech communes with all the soul of a suburban office park?
(Image via Vitaly Korovin/Shutterstock)