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James Gandolfini's unfinished business: Which projects will die with the actor, and which will go on?

2013 was shaping up into a busy year for actor James Gandolfini before a heart attack ended his life at the young age of 51.

According to his IMDB page, Gandolfini had completed filming for the “Untitled Nicole Holofcener Project,” a comedy about a divorced woman who decides to pursue the man she's interested in learns he's her new friend's ex-husband, co-starring Ben Falcone, Toni Collette, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. 

Fox Searchlight, the studio behind the movie, did not respond to a request for further details. 

HBO, where Gandolfini rose to fame as the star of 'The Sopranos," had several projects to which the star was attached.

In May, the wheels were set in-motion for Gandolfini’s post "Sopranos" television series return, as HBO ordered seven episodes of the crime drama “Criminal Justice,” written by Richard Price and directed by Oscar-winner Steven Zaillian. Attached as an executive producer, Gandolfini was slated to play a New York-based lawyer who defends a Pakistani man who woke up next to a female stranger stabbed to death in his bed, inspired by the BBC series of the same name. The late actor was reportedly in one scene already filmed for the pilot episode.

In April, HBO Films announced Gandolfini had been cast in “Bone Wars” opposite his “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” co-star Steve Carell. The film is described as a light-hearted period comedy based on the rivalry between two nineteenth-century paleontologists. The film was in a very early phase, with no script yet written

Gandolfini was also involved in the HBO drama “Big Dead Place” and HBO Films’ “Eating With The Enemy.”

A rep for HBO said that at this stage, they have no information with regards to the fate of Gandolfini’s projects. 

According to Deadline Hollywood, CBS gave the thumbs up just a couple of weeks ago to a script for “Taxi-22,” an adaptation of a French comedy, with Gandolfini connected as an executive producer through his partnership with the production house Attaboy. It was regarded a “passion project” for Gandolfini, and had been in the works for the past three years. 

CBS and Attaboy did not respond to a request for further comment.

We talked to several producers about what happens when someone prominently attached to a project dies.

“The future of projects in which one of the primary stars passes away prematurely is often determined on a case-by-case basis. If a project hasn’t begun production yet, the network/studio will have to decide whether the role can be re-cast, or if it’s easier, simply cancel the project altogether,” explained Hollywood agent, Alec Shankman. “When already in the middle of production, there’s a lot more invested, so it’s often worth simply coming up with a creative solution to keep it going.” 

Several other Gandolfini projects are already in post-production, including the Chernin Entertainment-produced “Animal Rescue,” a crime drama based on a lost pit bull, a scam artist, and a killing, also starring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace.

“I wanted to make him proud with the movie we made together,” “Animal Rescue” director Michael Roskam told TheWrap. “And now it will be in his loving memory.”

And although there has been much chit-chat in recent years about a cinematic reunion of HBO’s most successful series ever, “The Sopranos,” it never happened – and without its iconic Tony Soprano, it most likely never will.

“’The Sopranos’ was one of the most beloved scripted shows in recent history, so it’s a true shame that they were never able to get around to making a movie, provided that everyone was actually on board for the idea,” Shankman noted. “At this point, it’ll be difficult to make a film without Tony Soprano unless they are truly creative in the script.”

Gandolfini told the paparazzi in L.A. two weeks ago that he “didn’t know” if he would reprise his mobster man role for the highly-anticipated feature film, suggesting it could happen “when David Chase (the creator/producer) is broke.”

Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report.

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