James Gandolfini's HBO Pilot Isn't Going Forward, Damon Lindelof's The Leftovers Gets Pilot Order

Even with the prospect of James Gandolfini returning to premium cable isn't enough to secure a pilot a guaranteed series order, as evidenced by HBO's decision to pass on the drama pilot Criminal Justice. This news follows the announcement earlier this month that HBO has given Damon Lindelof's series adaptation of Tom Perrotta's rapture novel The Leftovers a pilot order.

We'll go out of order and start with the bad news first. Deadline says HBO has passed on Criminal Justice, the drama pilot from Richard Price, which was loosely based on Peter Moffat's BBC series. Gandolfini was set to star in the New York-set drama, which would have marked a return for the Sopranos star to a starring role and to the pay-cable network that once played host to the popular organized crime series.

Gandolfini is great and I'd love to see him back on television. And it sounds like there was a lot of talent behind Criminal Justice with Price writing and Steven Zaillian directing. But given the choice between novel adaptations and shows remade from other shows, I'll take the former over the latter. So if it came down to Criminal Justice vs. The Leftovers, I'd take the latter and try Moffat's series out via Netflix (opens in new tab). There may not be a direct correlation between these two dramas, other than that they were both in contention at HBO, and one has been scrapped, while the other inches forward. On the subject of The Leftovers, there was good news for the project earlier this month. Deadline says the adaptation, which has been in development since the summer, has been given a pilot order.

I'm especially interested to hear details on what Lindelof and Perrotta have in mind for this potential series. The book follows the characters left behind after a rapture-like event causes part of the world's population to up and vanish into thin air. The drastically altered reality of civilization in the story includes a cult called the Guilty Remnant, which consists of non-speaking chain-smokers who wander around giving people the creeps, a shady prophet called Holy Wayne who's also collecting followers, and the mayor of a small town, who's trying to help his community move on after the "rapture" drastically alters the lives of its residents.

Perrotta's story is pretty self-contained, but there's certainly room for the plot to be opened up a bit to suit a serial format. With Lost's Lindelof on board, we might expect something particularly creative with this adaptation. And with HBO as the network, there's a ton of potential to expand the story and really dig into the character drama. So I'm hopeful things will work out better for The Leftovers than they have for Criminal Justice and this one actually makes it to air.

Kelly West
Assistant Managing Editor

Kelly joined CinemaBlend as a freelance TV news writer in 2006 and went on to serve as the site’s TV Editor before moving over to other roles on the site. At present, she’s an Assistant Managing Editor who spends much of her time brainstorming and editing feature content on the site.