Robert De Niro Finds Criminal Justice

He'll replace James Gandolfini in the HBO series

When the world said goodbye to James Gandolfini back in June, HBO lost more than just the iconic Tony Soprano. Gandolfini had been developing and had starred in the pilot for a new drama, Criminal Justice. His death appeared to threaten the forward momentum of the miniseries, with which he was closely tied. Now, though, all involved are getting back to work and have Robert De Niro attached to star.

It’s not every TV project that can hook in one of the world’s most respected actors, so Criminal Justice promises to be something special. Producers Richard Price and Steven Zaillian were overseeing the seven-episode series, itself adapted from Peter Moffat’s 10-episode BBC run, and had to figure out the future of the project when its guiding light died.

“James’ passing took the wind out of our sails quite a bit at HBO and so it’s taken some time to be able to have conversations with Steve about the future of that,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told The Wrap. Now, though, things are back on track for the New York-based crime drama, which is aiming to kick off shooting in March.

It's something of a coup to land De Niro, who's done barely any TV apart from a brief 30 Rock role - unless you count the time that The Godfather and its sequel were cut into a TV miniseries, which we don't.

De Niro will next be seen in Last Vegas (out November 8) and Luc Besson’s action comedy The Family, due to arrive here on November 22. They’ll be followed by boxing comedy drama Grudge Match, which will be released on January 24 next year.