Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Behind The Sopranos

This past Monday, I attended a seminar with David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, Northern Exposure, and other amazing TV programs, where he discussed his career and The Sopranos from his unique perspective. Here are the most interesting parts of this discussion:

- The Sopranos is like the Mir Space Station: it was only meant to work for 1 year. The original premise of the show was not meant to go on for more than a few episodes. There was never a plan for where the show would go.

- They make it up as they go along (hear that, Lost fans?). Because writing each season is difficult, there is no real plan for where the characters' lives will go in the next years. This can lead to huge consequences. For example, they started out having Tony and Carmella bickering to give the show a Honeymooner's feel. Several seasons later, this built up to a separation. They don't always know what will happen next.

- When he started the show, he was just trying to get footage together for his reel so he could start directing movies. Considering that most TV pilots are not picked up, this was not an immoral or uncommon thing to do. When the show became a hit, he was surprised and disappointed - he was sick of TV.

- Adrianna's body is in a Pennsylvania coal mine under a pile of garbage. This was never on the show, but it is how the writers saw her story end.

- The new thing on TV are shows with complex plots, multiple characters and long story arcs (The Nine, Heroes, The Class, etc). Everyone says this is the "Lost" effect, but The Sopranos was doing this years before that. I'm guessing being on cable had something to do with that.

- David Chase hates the networks. The networks want to sell you commercials. Because of this, they don't want you upset or agitated between shows. This ruins the content they show. He actually didn't want to do the show until he started working with HBO, which was a completely different mentality. I thought this was an amazing indictment of the media system, especially coming from a successful veteran. After all his success, he can't wait to get out of TV.

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