The End of 'The Sopranos'? Fuhgeddaboudit

"Sopranos" mobsters Tony (James Gandolfini), right, and Johnny Sack (Vincent Curatola). (By Abbot Genser -- Hbo Via Associated Press)
By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, August 12, 2005

Great news for fans of HBO's "The Sopranos." There will be a seventh season after all.

Sort of. Just not officially.

In addition to the 12-episode sixth-and-billed-as-final season of the mob drama -- which is scheduled to debut in March of 2006, ending a 1 1/2 -year dry spell -- the pay cable network announced yesterday it would produce eight "bonus episodes," which will debut nearly one year after that, in January of '07.

Why the network is not calling this an abbreviated seventh season instead of "bonus" episodes, which sounds suspiciously like DVD boxed-set-speak, is beyond us.

HBO offered no explanation other than Chairman Chris Albrecht's canned comment that they were thrilled that "David Chase felt there are more stories to be told."

Last month, at Summer TV Press Tour 2005, the Reporters Who Cover Television, who were understandably confused having also been told that the show's sixth season would be its last, quizzed Albrecht about the possibility of a seventh season.

He responded: "I don't know. I read what you read."

That Albrecht, such a kidder.

Albrecht then hinted that he believed Chase feels like there's more to tell than just what he had planned for the sixth season.

He'd probably read that in the New York Times, which in June quoted Chase as saying that he had been publicly expressing nostalgia for the show, which "kind of got transmuted into that there would be another season, which doesn't mean there wouldn't be a seventh season; it's just that's not the plan right now," adding, "I've got it all planned out now in six seasons, but everyone loves doing it and we can probably -- might be -- able to do another few episodes."

The "bonus" episodes will be shot immediately after the episodes for the sixth season, which are in production.

HBO did something similar for the final season of "Sex and the City." Twelve episodes of the final season ran between June and September of '03; eight more ran from January through February of '04.

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