Todd A. Kessler was the boy genius of the Sopranos writers’ room. In 1999, he wrote a teleplay, “D-Girl,” about a gangster who writes a screenplay (You Bark, I Bite) that was so good, it changed the rules of dark comedy on television. He was 26. It was the first Sopranos episode he’d done. By 2000, his standing at the show had risen to the point that rumor named him as the successor-in-waiting to David Chase, the Sopranos creator. The two became friends. That summer, when an episode they co-wrote was nominated for an Emmy, Mr. Kessler was elated. Still, he can’t have been much surprised. The episode, “Funhouse,” the last of the second season, is a brilliant piece of writing. The surprise came 10 minutes after the nomination was announced, when Mr. Chase phoned up Mr. Kessler and fired him. He was stunned. “The timing isn’t great,” Mr. Chase admitted during the call. Mr. Kessler wept, and although he obtained a reprieve, it didn’t last.
Had he been fired for being too good? The next act of Mr. Kessler’s career suggested that this possibility hadn’t escaped him. In 2007, he created Damages, an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning drama about a litigator who brutalizes her protégé. It was “based,” Brett Martin writes in his new book, Difficult Men, “in no small part on [Mr. Kessler’s] experiences working on The Sopranos.” Nor was its creator the only Sopranos alumnus whose later success involved getting even. Mr. Chase had a talent for inflicting the kind of trauma that results in a trip to the podium.
The Eight-Day Week
There’s another week left in the New York Film Festival—but we’re headed out of town! Last-gasp tumbleweeds like us aren’t going to be anywhere near Lincoln Center today. After our morning coffee (iced—we’re already waxing nostalgic for summer) at Golden Pear, we’ll be heading to the Hamptons International Film Festival, where today’s screenings include early Read More
David Chase and Jerry Seinfeld have a lot in common. Both men were the creative forces behind two of the most incendiary television shows of the past twenty years; shows which a large majority of the viewing audience (not us!) felt ended with disappointing whimpers. Both men will forever attempt to live up to past Read More
Robert Baer lost his lawsuit against David Chase, the Sopranos‘ series creator, last week, but the trail revealed how Hollywood writers turn their ideas into successful television and the way the industry often revolves around friends doing favors for friends. Mr. Baer was seeking compensation for giving Mr. Chase a tour of Mafia sights around Read More
Today, a federal jury in New Jersey threw out a case brought against Sopranos creator David Chase by a certain Robert Baer. After the verdict was read, following less than two hours of deliberations, the defense attorneys hugged one another.
As we reported yesterday, Mr. Baer, a budding screenwriter and Read More
Life imitated art in a New Jersey courtroom earlier today when David Chase, the mind behind The Sopranos, testified in the state’s federal court to defend his creative ownership of the HBO series.
Twelve years ago, it seems, he collaborated with a man named Robert Baer, a budding screenwriter and former prosecutor who set up Read More
Two locally filmed shows took top series honors at last night's Emmy Awards.
'The Sopranos' took home the Best Drama award, and creator David Chase and director Alan Taylor won for writing and directing.
But in a big upset, favorite James Gandolfini lost to James Spader of 'Boston Legal.'
'30 Rock' took home its single Read More
What rough beast is David Chase riding?
He seems to have understood the mood of his nation better than anyone since Mario Puzo and Francis Coppola forecast the fate of the American empire in The Godfather.
And he has world leaders mouthing his dialogue, day and night. Here is Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, the Read More
Ed Bradley Jr., co-editor of CBS’s 60 Minutes for more than 20 years and a rabid Knicks fan, is also a Hamptons fixture-or at least a fringe character.
Four years after buying a two-acre spread north of Montauk Highway in East Hampton for $950,000, Mr. Bradley recently paid $1.35 million for the 2.77-acre place next-door. Read More
A lot of us know how Tony Soprano feels. His world seems to be coming apart. The takings-for-granted on which his life has been predicated are breaking down or are being dismantled by forces he doesn’t completely understand or, if he does, over which he seems to have lost control.
It’s not hard to see Read More