The Sopranos Court Case, Real Life Tony Soprano Exposed?
By Josh Hart
Dec 13, 2007
Many people were quite peeved with the way David Chase ended "The Sopranos." Now the show will be under scrutiny in a court case. Robert Baer, a former municipal judge from New Jersey, is suing Chase because he claims that he helped spawn the original ideas behind the drama. Chase expected to give evidence, but Baer has promised to introduce jurors to the man he claims was the real-life inspiration for Tony Soprano.
Chase took the Fifth yesterday when he was asked - after a court appearance - how he thought his own legal saga would end. "There's a Writers Guild strike," David Chase deadpanned. "I can't talk about it."
The UK Guardian notes that the Chase-Baer story begins with a meeting in 1995. Baer says they were introduced through a mutual friend and chatted over lunch in California, where he claims he suggested to Chase the concept of a mob drama set in New Jersey.
"He introduced Mr. Chase to the North Jersey mob. Mr. Chase took extensive notes and said, 'I have all I need now. It's up to me to get back and write it,' " said Baer's lawyer, Harley Breite. According to the New York Post, five weeks later, Chase had completed the script for what would become the pilot of "The Sopranos" - a show that ran from 1999 until 2006.
The legal action calls for Baer to be compensated for the value of what he did, but leaves the exact amount for the jury to decide, if the suit is successful. Baer, a former New Jersey prosecutor, first filed his lawsuit five years ago.
U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano has twice dismissed the case, citing the statute of limitations, however, an appeals court overturned Pisano's decision both times. While Chase conceded he sought Baer's help during his research, he described as "egocentric fantasies" the ex-judge's claims that the series was his idea.
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