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Vito Corleone steps in for Tony Soprano on Criminal Justice

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Robert De Niro’s next best role might’ve come courtesy the late, much-missed James Gandolfini.

“Criminal Justice”, the HBO mini-series Gandolfini was committed to starring in before he died, has decided to push forward… but only because the late “Sopranos” star would’ve wanted it that way. Or so the PR department for the network says.

According to Deadline, there was only one actor on the studio’s wishlist to replace Gandolfini and that was Al Pacino, Ray Liotta, Kiefer Sutherland, Tony Danza, Big Pussy Robert De Niro.

Those involved in the stunted series believe Gandolfini would’ve been psyched to have De Niro replace him. And hey, he probably would’ve been. Once a great, always a … wait, the guy from “The Big Wedding”!?

Um, where was I? Oh yes… Gandolfini had actually shot a pilot for the series, which will run 7 hours, before leaving us. Thing is, the network realized how easy it’d be to cut Gandolfini’s stuff out of the pilot, without having to bother or upset anyone too much. Mostly, it’s not gonna be too costly.

“The New York crime story centers on an ambulance-chasing New York City attorney, the role originally played by Gandolfini, who gets in over-his-head when he takes on the case of a Pakistani (Ahmed) accused of murdering a girl on the Upper West Side. While the lawyer part is central to the overall story, in the pilot the character only appears in the final scene.”

In other words, it’s only the last ten minutes or so of the series that needs to be reshot.

Like so much Yankee fare , “Criminal Justice” is based on a Brit series.

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