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“The Sopranos” is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its premiere episode this month, and nearly 12 years after it signed off the air its final moments remain one of the most debated seven minutes in television history. The infamous cut to black used by creator David Chase left the fate of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) ambiguous, dividing fans between those who thought he lived and those who thought he died. Chase continues to be elusive about the ending, but he did reveal to Deadline that the original plan was to kill Tony.
“I had another scene that was going to be Tony’s death, that we were going to do,” Chase said. “That was two years or three years before we came up with the other one. So, there was a death scene. Tony drives back into the Lincoln tunnel, he goes for a meeting with Phil Leotardo, and he’s killed. I don’t think you were going to see the death, but you were going to know that he was dead. Whenever the show went off the air, we were going to use that, and then I just changed my mind. I decided to do this instead. I thought it was more interesting.”
Chase - Preference - Tony - Fate - Mystery
Chase’s preference for cutting to black and keeping Tony’s fate a mystery appealed just as strongly to his fellow writers Terence Winter and Matthew Weiner, both of whom went on to create acclaimed dramas “Boardwalk Empire” and “Mad Men,” respectively. Winter told Deadline the scene’s power lay not in leaving Tony’s fate ambiguous but in serving as a microcosm of Tony’s entire predicament as a gangster.
“My interpretation was that, when you’re Tony Soprano, even going out for ice cream with your family is fraught with paranoia,” Winter said. “He’s sown a life of murder, mayhem and treachery. And everybody...
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