In Conclusion, HBO Honchos Stand Up for Chase's Final Shot

That was then:
That was then: "Sopranos" creator David Chase and star James Gandolfini in 1999. (By Jill Connelly -- Associated Press)

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By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, July 13, 2007

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., July 12

"It was startling -- even to us," HBO Co-President Richard Plepler said of David Chase's cut-to-black non-ending that caused such an uproar among fans of "The Sopranos."

"The truth of the matter is there were just as many people passionately intrigued as angry" among TV critics and viewers alike, he told The Reporters Who Cover Television at Summer TV Press Tour 2007.

"I thought David did what David is brilliant at doing -- finding his own voice, doing something nobody had ever done," which, Plepler said, was in the "highest tradition of the show." He added practically, "It's impossible to tell someone like David Chase . . . how he should end it."

What Chase did was end the show with mobster Tony Soprano sitting in a diner booth with his wife and loser son eating onion rings while his daughter tried to parallel-park her car; a menacing guy at the lunch counter got up and went to the loo.

The more viewers, including himself, "sat with" that ending, the more comfortable and less irritated they became, Plepler insisted.

Asked what he thought actually happened in the final episode, Plepler said he thought Tony reaped what he had sown and is a guy who will live a life of eternal vigilance, always looking over his shoulder, never sure of his safety or the safety of his family and asking himself whether it had all been worth it.

Presumably, that means Plepler didn't think Tony got whacked by the menacing guy who went to the loo.

Sitting with Plepler onstage was Michael Lombardo, president of programming at HBO. Asked the same question, he joked, "I don't know, because my TV went out."

* * *

Looking forward, remember those two "Deadwood" movies that HBO told fans of the show were coming?


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