Gandolfini in battle with HBO

Saturday, March 8, 2003

— James Gandolfini, the star of "The Sopranos," has filed a complaint claiming HBO breached his contract for a fifth season, a newspaper said.

In the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Gandolfini says HBO missed a deadline for advising the actor that his services would be needed for a fifth season, scheduled to begin filming March 24.

"This doesn't mean he will not show up for work on March 24," Martin Singer, Gandolfini's lawyer, told the Daily News for Friday editions. "We have till then to evaluate what he will do. We're seeking a declaration from the court that he does not legally have to render acting services for this season."

The Daily News reported that Gandolfini, who earns about $400,000 an episode, including bonuses, is seeking $750,000 an episode.

A source close to Gandolfini says the actor believes he is underpaid relative to other small-screen stars, and that he would like to return for a fifth season if a deal could be reached.

"This suit is really about Jim (Gandolfini) being paid fair market value, like other stars of network television shows, and he expects it to be settled in a friendly way," the source said.