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Although James Gandolfini won multiple Emmys for HBO as the star of The Sopranos, the network has announced that they will not air the final pilot filmed by the 51-year-old actor shortly before his death in Italy.
"I can't imagine us airing the pilot with James," said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo at a Television Critics Association (TCA) panel. "He's obviously a large presence. He's a fantastic actor."
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The pilot was for a new HBO series called Criminal Justice. Because only a single episode was shot with James and the network would like to move forward with the show, the most obvious solution is recasting the role. "The conversation would be about reshooting, obviously, the portion that Jim had already performed in and recasting and going forward."
James, who was widely considered one of the best actors in the history of TV, will be a tough act to follow for the actor who takes over the role. "It's hard to think about replacing him," Lombardo admits.
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Criminal Justice isn't the only show that's dealing with the loss of a major cast member. FOX's Glee had to delay filming their fifth season when actor Cory Monteith died of a drug overdose in his native Canada. Since Glee is much further along in production than Criminal Justice and the audience already attached to the characters, they opted to kill off Cory's character, Finn, instead of recasting.