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'Sopranos' kingpin set for raise

Report: Actor Gandolfini to double his salary

Gandolfini
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano

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NEW YORK (Variety) -- Tony Soprano will be returning to the waste management industry as early as next week.

Actor James Gandolfini dropped the lawsuit he filed to void his "Sopranos" contract, the first in a quick succession of steps toward a new deal that will more than double his $400,000-an-episode salary.

Gandolfini had litigator Martin Singer withdraw the suit that was filed 12 days ago, and HBO is expected to respond as early as Tuesday by halting its $100 million countersuit.

Once those lawsuits end, HBO and Gandolfini are expected to quickly close a renegotiation whose particulars are already essentially done.

Neither side would divulge terms, but sources said Gandolfini would get more than the $11 million that HBO had offered before Gandolfini filed suit and less than the $16 million counterproposal the network turned down last week.

With salary and advances against syndication that will be retroactive to season one, Gandolfini will make in the vicinity of $13 million for the fifth season.

Another facet of the deal is that the crew members who were suddenly out of work are back on salary and will be paid retroactively for the week they missed when it appeared that the start of shooting would be postponed indefinitely.

That hardship was one of the key reasons that led Gandolfini late last week to seek an end to a dispute that put his negotiating team in a bare-knuckle battle against HBO chairman Chris Albrecht. It was a skirmish that became personal and ugly.

The bitter feelings should soon sleep with the fishes, as the deal worked out by executive producer Brad Grey will likely leave both Gandolfini and Albrecht with the chance to hold their heads high. They will begin shooting the season opener that has already been scripted by creator David Chase and Terry Winter.

Chase is looking to wrap up the "Sopranos" storyline in the 13 episodes of the fifth season, including a finale that is expected to be two hours in length. The fifth season is expected to be the last for the HBO hit mob drama, unless Chase can be coaxed into coming back for one more season.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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