The Sopranos

Oct 28, 2002  •  Post A Comment

I find myself working harder than I ever did before. I’ve been a show runner once before, but that was with my own show and it was very short-lived. This has been a change for me-seeing how many people depend on the “Soprano” factory for their livelihood and how so many people have so much of their lives tied up in it. I’m sort of the president of the “Sopranos” factory. I never saw myself as that before. There’s a crew of 180 people, plus people at HBO and assorted vendors and writers. So it is really like a family business. I’m at the top of the family business, and it’s a lot of people to manage and a lot of personalities that I never had to manage before.
In a way it’s like becoming a father signaled my becoming an adult-only this is even more so. You realize that people depend on you and the business you make for their livelihood. I never expected the weight of that until it happened. Maybe people who went to business school know that, but I never did.
We never thought it would be a hit. When we made the pilot, I thought they’d never buy it. Then when they did, I thought we’d be out of there in one season. First of all, there’s a standard law of averages for a series-most of them do fail. And I thought there were elements of this show that would never find a home in the hearts of people.
I think the first thing that we did right was hiring James Gandolfini in the role of Tony. He makes the character intriguing to people and likable. He’s got those dimples and great eyes; he seems very deep. And he has a big heart. For all the brutality and caginess of the character, I think he lets people see that there are things that Tony cares about and there is a sweetness underneath it all.
[HBO] hasn’t been hands off-it’s just [that] you feel that you are in a partnership and not [in] an adversarial situation. They have been very supportive. They want to support you. They aren’t going to let you drive the bus off the cliff, but at least you both agree that it’s a bus.