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HBO announced today that they will be airing a tribute special for James Gandolfini this Sunday night. The 35-minute presentation will include appearances by friends and colleagues of the Sopranos star, who passed away suddenly this past June.
HBO didn’t release many details about the tribute, nor have they posted a trailer yet, however they plan to air James Gandolfini: Tribute to a Friend this Sunday night. Here’s their brief announcement on the scheduled event:
JAMES GANDOLFINI: TRIBUTE TO A FRIEND will debut SUNDAY, DEC. 22 (8:30-9:05 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO. In this special presentation, more than two dozen friends and colleagues remember the three-time Emmy® winner, who died June 19, 2013 at age 51. Along with first-person reflections, the special features clips of Gandolfini’s work, as well as behind-the-scenes footage.
No specifics were mentioned in terms of who will be appearing in this special, however we might expect at least a few former Sopranos stars, considering the HBO drama not only put HBO on the map in terms of premium cable original programming, but turned Gandolfini from a character actor to a full-blown Hollywood A-lister. The "Tribute to a Friend" subtitle suggests a memorial tone and likely appearances by people who knew him well.
Given that his death was months ago, this special seems like it’s coming in a bit late, however it may have taken HBO a while to gather together the people they wanted to appear and share first-person reflections about the beloved actor. But the special isn’t entirely ill-timed, when we factor in that it’s the end of the year, or that Gandolfini was just nominated posthumously for a Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance in Enough Said.
Prior to starring as Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, Gandolfini’s credits include feature films like Angie, Mr. Wonderful, True Romance an Crimson Tide. Post-Sopranos, he returned to feature work, with parts in Killing Them Softly, Not Fade Away and Zero Dark Thirty. Nicole Holofcener’s comedy Enough Said, in which he stars alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus, was one of the last films he did before he died. Julia Louis Dreyfus was just recently quoted as saying Gandolfini had some insecurities about whether or not he was right for that part. You can read all about that at Variety.
He died at the age of 51 while in Italy with his family. He was there on vacation and planned to receive an award at the Taormina Film Festival, when he suffered a heart attack in his hotel room. It’s still hard to believe he’s really gone, but HBO’s special should really bring it home. It’ll be interesting to see who appears in the special and what clips and behind-the-scenes footage are included.
James Gandolfini: Tribute to a Friend will air Sunday, December 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET on HBO.
UPDATE: HBO just released a trailer for the special: