HBO execs were “concerned” about James Gandolfini “staying alive,” according to a new book.
Former CEO Jeff Bewkes said the “Sopranos” star would occasionally “go on a bender” and stop production.
Another former executive recalled that an attempted intervention with Gandolfini was “a disaster.”
“We were concerned about Gandolfini staying alive. Occasionally he would go on a bender or a coke binge. We had to stop production,” former HBO CEO Jeff Bewkes told journalist James Andrew Miller in “Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers.”
“It cost a lot of money and was hard on the other actors’ schedules,” he continued, adding that he “didn’t pressure” another former HBO executive, Chris Albrecht, about Gandolfini missing work because he “thought Jimmy was embarrassed.”
Bewkes recalled to Miller how Gandolfini treated him “like the dad or the boss” when he attended awards shows with Gandolfini and fellow “Sopranos” stars Lorraine Bracco and Edie Falco.
“Like he would be embarrassed if I knew he was drinking at the table. One time he brought two or three bottles of good Italian wine, so we didn’t have to drink the shit Merlot they serve at the Globes. I drank with him thinking it would calm him down, I guess I was stupid,” the former CEO said in “Tinderbox,” also recalling how when Albrecht and fellow executive Carolyn Strauss came to him for “budget overruns because of Jimmy’s problem,” he gave them the extra money for filming.
Albrecht called the network’s relationship to Gandolfini a “love-hate thing.”
“We had an intervention with him in my apartment in New York. The intervention wasn’t my idea. I think his family’s idea because his sister was there. It was definitely a crisis situation,” Albrecht said.
Unlike Bewkes, however, Albrecht didn’t recall being worried about Gandolfini’s survival.
“I don’t remember us being worried he was going to die, but it became a real problem with shooting the show… It became a lack of respect for the other actors as well, so there were sort of problems that bubbled up,” Albrecht revealed. The former exec even called the intervention with Gandolfini “a disaster.”
Earlier passages in “Tinderbox” describe the intervention with Gandolfini in more detail.
When Gandolfini entered the apartment to find friends and family waiting, per the book, he realized what was happening and told them, “Oh, fuck this. Fuck all of you.” The actor eventually stormed out of the building — but not before daring Albrecht to fire him from “The Sopranos.”
“Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers” by James Andrew Miller is currently on sale now.
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