HBO Keeps Its Mob Boss Happy
03/19/2003 AT 01:00 PM EST
After a tense legal showdown, the patriarch of HBO's mob hit "The Sopranos" has finally reached a deal with the cable network to return to the series for its fifth season, just in time for production to begin on Monday.
The show's future was left in doubt when contract talks between Gandolfini, 41, and HBO broke down. The actor, who was seeking a raise from his current $400,000-per-episode paycheck, filed a lawsuit against the network (which, like PEOPLE, is owned by AOL Time Warner) claiming it never properly notified him of plans for another season. HBO then returned fire with a $100 million countersuit of its own.
Cooler heads eventually prevailed and Gandolfini dropped his suit on Tuesday. The New York Times reports that the actor accepted HBO's offer of $11 million a year -- which is double the salary, though not quite the $16 million a year he had asked for.
All the fuss may be inconsequential shortly, as series creator David Chase has said he only intends to stick around through the fifth season -- potentially making this upcoming season (due to premiere in early 2004) the Mob's final hit.
Meanwhile, Dominic Chianese seems ready to sing for his supper. The actor, who plays Corrado "Uncle Junior" Soprano the series, is due to release an album, titled "Ungrateful Heart," on May 20.
The disc will feature songs primarily in Italian, including "O Solo Mio" and "Funiculi, Funicula," as well as the title track, which the 68-year-old Bronx-born actor sang on the finale of "The Sopranos"' third season, the Associated Press reports.