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David Chase
David Chase 2015.jpg
Chase at the US Embassy in Dublin, January 2015
David Henry Chase

(1945-08-22) August 22, 1945 (age 75)
Alma materNew York University (BA)
Stanford University (MA)
OccupationScreenwriter, director, producer
Years active1974–present
Known forCreator of The Sopranos
Spouse(s)Denise Kelly
ChildrenMichele DeCesare

David Henry Chase[1][2] (born August 22, 1945) is an American screenwriter, director, and producer. He is best known for writing and producing the HBO drama The Sopranos which aired for six seasons between 1999 and 2007. Chase has also produced and written for such shows as The Rockford Files, I'll Fly Away, and Northern Exposure. He created the original series Almost Grown which aired for 10 episodes in 1988 and 1989. He has won seven Emmy Awards. Chase's film debut came in 2012 with Not Fade Away, followed by The Many Saints of Newark (2021), a prequel film to the TV series The Sopranos.

Early life and education

Chase was born into a working-class Italian American[3] family in Mount Vernon, New York. His father Henry Chase, a hardware store owner, had changed his surname from "DeCesare" to "Chase" well before his son was born. He was an only child and grew up in a small garden apartment in Clifton, New Jersey,[4] and in North Caldwell, New Jersey.[5] He has stated that he had many problems with overbearing parents when he was a child.[4] He grew up watching matinée crime films and was well known as a creative storyteller.[6] He claims that his father was an angry man who belittled him constantly, and his mother was a "passive-aggressive drama queen" and a "nervous woman who dominated any situation she was in by being so needy and always on the verge of hysteria." A character he created for The Sopranos, Livia Soprano, is based on his mother, Norma Chase.[7][8]

Chase struggled with panic attacks and clinical depression as a teenager, something he dealt with into adulthood. He graduated from high school in 1964 and attended Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where his depression worsened. "I slept 18 hours a day," he has stated. He described his problems as "normal, nagging, clinical depression."[4] He also worked as a drummer during this period and aspired to be a professional musician.[6] After two years, he transferred to New York University where he chose to pursue a career in film—a decision that was not well received by his parents. He went on to attend Stanford University's School of Film, earning a Master of Arts degree in 1971.[9]


Chase started in Hollywood as a story editor for Kolchak: The Night Stalker and then produced episodes of The Rockford Files and Northern Exposure, among other series. He also worked as a writer of 19 episodes while on The Rockford Files—a show which he worked on in various capacities for more than four years.[4] He won several Emmy awards, including one for a television movie, Off the Minnesota Strip, the story of a runaway he scripted in 1980.[4] His first original created series was Almost Grown in 1988, with Eve Gordon and Timothy Daly.[10] Although the one-hour series was well received by critics,[11] only 10 episodes aired from November 1988 to February 1989.[12]

The Sopranos

Chase worked in relative anonymity before The Sopranos debuted.[4] The story of The Sopranos was initially conceived as a feature film about "a mobster in therapy having problems with his mother".[13] Chase got some input from his manager Lloyd Braun and decided to adapt it into a television series.[13] He signed a development deal in 1995 with production company Brillstein-Grey and wrote the original pilot script.[4][14][15] He drew heavily from his personal life and his experiences growing up in New Jersey, and has stated that he tried to apply his own "family dynamic to mobsters".[8] For instance, the tumultuous relationship between series protagonist Tony Soprano and his mother Livia is partially based on Chase's relationship with his own mother.[8] He was also in psychotherapy at the time and modeled the character of Jennifer Melfi after his own psychiatrist.[16]

Chase had been fascinated by organized crime and the mafia from an early age, witnessing such people growing up. He also was raised on classic gangster films such as The Public Enemy and the crime series The Untouchables. The series is partly inspired by the Richard Boiardo family, a prominent New Jersey organized crime family when Chase was growing up, and partly on New Jersey's DeCavalcante family.[17] He has mentioned American playwrights Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams as influences on the show's writing, and Italian director Federico Fellini as an important influence on the show's cinematic style.[18][19][20] The series was named after high school friends of his.[21][16]

Chase and producer Brad Grey pitched The Sopranos to several networks; Fox showed interest but passed on it after Chase presented them the pilot script.[15] They eventually pitched the show to Chris Albrecht, president of HBO Original Programming, who decided to finance a pilot episode[4][14] which was shot in 1997.[22][23] Chase directed it himself. They finished the pilot and showed it to HBO executives, but the show was put on hold for several months. During this time, Chase, who had experienced frustration for a long period with being unable to break out of the TV genre and into film,[4] considered asking HBO for additional funding to shoot 45 more minutes of footage and release The Sopranos as a feature film. In December 1997, HBO decided to produce the series and ordered 12 more episodes for a 13-episode season.[4][14][24] The show premiered on HBO on January 10, 1999, with the pilot, The Sopranos.

Thirty episodes of The Sopranos are explicitly credited to Chase; however, as the show's creator, showrunner, and head writer, he had a major role in all the scripts, including producing and touching up each script's final draft.[25] He also directed the pilot episode and the series finale (both of which he also wrote). Of the controversial final scene of the series finale, Chase said, "I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there."[26]

The Sopranos credits
Chase appeared as a man sitting at an outdoor cafe in Naples, Italy smoking a cigarette in the season two episode "Commendatori". He also appeared as an airline passenger en route to Italy in season six's "Luxury Lounge". His voice was also used over the phone in the episode "The Test Dream".

Not Fade Away

Not Fade Away (2012), Chase's feature film debut, was released on December 21, 2012. It centers on the lead singer of a teenage rock 'n' roll band (played by John Magaro) in 1960s New Jersey.[27][28] Described as "a music-driven coming-of-age story," the film reunites Chase with James Gandolfini (former star of Sopranos), who co-stars as Magaro's father.[27] Other cast members include Bella Heathcote, Christopher McDonald, Molly Price, Lisa Lampanelli, Jack Huston and Brad Garrett. Chase himself has described the film as about "a post-war, post-Depression-era parent who has given his kid every advantage that he didn't have growing up, but now can't help feeling jealous of the liberated, more adventurous destiny his son is able to enjoy." Another former Sopranos cast member, Steven Van Zandt, served as music supervisor and executive producer.[29]

The Many Saints of Newark

Although Chase was "against [the movie] for a long time",[30] Deadline Hollywood reported in March 2018 that New Line Cinema had purchased the script for The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to The Sopranos written by Chase and fellow screenwriter Lawrence Konner. Chase said of the storyline, which centers on the 1967 Newark riots and racial tensions between the Italian-American and African-American communities, "I was interested in Newark and life in Newark at that time... I used to go to down there every Saturday night for dinner with my grandparents. But the thing that interested me most was Tony's boyhood. I was interested in exploring that."[30] Chase served as producer, and in July 2018, Alan Taylor, who previously directed episodes of the series, was hired to direct the film.[31] The film was initially scheduled to be released on September 25, 2020,[32] however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, its release date was rescheduled to March 12, 2021.[33]

Upcoming projects

A Ribbon of Dreams

David Chase is currently developing A Ribbon of Dreams, a mini-series for HBO. According to an HBO press release, the series' pilot will "begin in 1913 and follow two men, one a college-educated mechanical engineer, the other a cowboy with a violent past, who form an unlikely producing partnership and together become pioneers and then powers for a time in motion pictures." Specifically, the two men will "begin as employees of D.W. Griffith, and then cross career paths with John Ford, John Wayne, Raoul Walsh, Bette Davis, Billy Wilder and others who gave shape to Hollywood as it grew from the age of rough-hewn silent Westerns, to the golden era of talkies and the studio system, to the auteur movement, to television, and finally to the present day." As of 2019, the status of the project is unknown.[34][35]

Personal life

After graduating from NYU in 1968, Chase moved to California and married his high school sweetheart Denise Kelly.[4] He is the father of actress Michele DeCesare who appeared in six of The Sopranos episodes as Hunter Scangarelo.[36]

Chase has stated that he "loathed and despised" television shows, watching only The Sopranos and movies.[37] However, he has said in recent interviews that he watches Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, the work of former Sopranos writers and producers Terence Winter and Matthew Weiner. He said that he made those comments in part because he had been working within the confines of 1990s network television.[38][39]


Year Title Director Writer Producer Actor Notes
1971 The Bold Ones: The Lawyers Yes Episode: "In Defense of Ellen McKay"
1974 The Magician Yes 7 episodes
1974–1975 Kolchak: The Night Stalker Yes 8 episodes
Also story consultant
1975–1976 Switch Yes 6 episodes
Also story consultant
1976–1979 The Rockford Files Yes Yes 20 episodes
1980 The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo Story Episode: "Perkins Bombs Out"
1980 Off the Minnesota Strip Yes Yes Television film
1982 Palms Precinct Yes Executive Pilot
Also creator
1982 Moonlight Yes Executive Television film
1986 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Yes Yes Episode: "Enough Rope for Two"
1988–1989 Almost Grown Yes Executive Also co-creator
1991–1993 I'll Fly Away Yes Yes Executive 4 episodes
1993–1995 Northern Exposure Story Executive
1996 The Rockford Files: If the Frame Fits... Supervising Television film
1996 The Rockford Files: Godfather Knows Best Yes Supervising Television film
1996 The Rockford Files: Friends and Foul Play Supervising Television film
1996 The Rockford Files: Punishment and Crime Yes Yes Supervising Television film
1999–2007 The Sopranos Yes Yes Executive Yes Also creator
Uncredited appearances in three episodes
2017 BoJack Horseman Yes Voice role: Himself
Episode: "See Mr. Peanutbutter Run"


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1969 The Cut-Throats Production manager
1972 Winter Love Unit manager
1972 Grave of the Vampire Yes Based on his novel The Still Life
2012 Not Fade Away Yes Yes Yes
2021 The Many Saints of Newark Yes Yes

Awards and recognition


  1. ^ Says his name was not David DeCesare at birth in this interview: Archived March 31, 2019, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "David Chase's Not Fade Away" Archived October 2, 2019, at the Wayback Machine, Oct 5, 2012, Time magazine
  3. ^ "Boss of Bosses". The Star-Ledger. Archived from the original on April 26, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Biskind, Peter. "How David Chase and The Sopranos Changed Television Forever". Vanity Fair.
  5. ^ DeCaro, Frank. " No Longer the Punch-Line State; Lauryn Hill, the Sopranos and others are unapologetic New Jerseyans.", The New York Times, April 4, 1999."Growing up in Clifton and North Caldwell, Mr. Chase said, New Jersey seemed "very exciting and very mysterious, not dull and predictable as many New Yorkers like to believe."
  6. ^ a b David Chase: Creator,, accessed May 6, 2007.
  7. ^ Martin, Brett (October 30, 2007). ""Once You're in this Family, There's No Getting Out:" Meet the Sopranos". The Sopranos: The Complete Book. New York City: Time Inc. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-1-933821-18-4.
  8. ^ a b c Dougherty, Robin (January 20, 1999). "Chasing TV". Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  9. ^ magazine, STANFORD. "Family Man". Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  10. ^ Baker, Kathryn. (November 23, 1988) Wichita Eagle. "Almost Grown: tells story of growing up. Section:Lifestyle; Page 9A.
  11. ^ Bark, Ed. (October 2, 1988) Dallas Morning News A critic picks the season's top ten. Section: Arts & Entertainment; page 1C.
  12. ^ Vero Beach Press Journal (November 12, 2000) Pipline. Section: TV Journal; Page 32.
  13. ^ a b Lee, Mark (May 2007). "Wiseguys: A conversation between David Chase and Tom Fontana". Writers Guild of America, west. Archived from the original on November 16, 2007. Retrieved November 14, 2007.
  14. ^ a b c Oxfeld, Jesse (2002). "Family Man". Stanford Magazine. Retrieved September 22, 2007.
  15. ^ a b Chase, David; Bogdanovich, Peter (1999). The Sopranos – The Complete First Season: David Chase interview (DVD). HBO.
  16. ^ a b Dana, Will (March 10, 2006). ""Sopranos" Creator Shoots Straight". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 8, 2008. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  17. ^ Malanga, Steven (May 13, 2007). "Da Jersey boys who inspired The Sopranos". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on May 16, 2007.
  18. ^ The Sopranos – The Complete Series: Alec Baldwin interviews David Chase (DVD). HBO. 2008.
  19. ^ Levine, Stuart (April 23, 2008). ""The Sopranos": David Chase fesses up". Variety. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
  20. ^ Martin 2007, p. 160.
  21. ^ "David Chase profile at". HBO. Retrieved November 14, 2007.
  22. ^ It was originally referred to as "Pilot" but was renamed "The Sopranos" on the DVD release.
  23. ^ Flaherty, Michael (June 8, 2007). "Sopranos signoff marks end of era". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on September 21, 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2007.
  24. ^ Martin 2007, p. 16.
  25. ^ Wolk, Josh (April 6, 2007). "Burying the Sopranos". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 19, 2007. [Chase] oversees everything, from writing the final polish on all scripts to supervising the editing of each episode.
  26. ^ Alan Sepinwall (June 11, 2007). "David Chase speaks". The Star-Ledger.
  27. ^ a b McNary, Dave (January 24, 2011). "Gandolfini, Chase reconnect at 'Twylight' ". Reed Business Information. Retrieved February 1, 2011. Gandolfini's on board to portray the father of a teen in a rock band, set in 1960s suburbia. John Magaro will play his son. ... Chase, creator of 'The Sopranos,' signed on in 2008 to write, direct and produce the feature.
  28. ^ Jay A. Fernandez (March 8, 2010). "'Sopranos' creator to direct coming-of-age film". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  29. ^ "Brad Garrett Moves To David Chase's Musical Movie". NextMovie. February 3, 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  30. ^ a b Fleming Jr., Mike (January 7, 2019). "'The Sopranos' Creator David Chase Offers Glimpses Of Prequel Movie As Groundbreaking HBO Series Turns 20". Deadline. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  31. ^ Galuppo, Mia (July 3, 2018). "'Sopranos' Prequel Movie Taps Former Series Director Alan Taylor". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  32. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 15, 2019). "Warner Bros Dates 'Sopranos' Prequel 'The Many Saints Of Newark' For Fall 2020 – Update". Deadline. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  33. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 20, 2020). "'The Batman' Flies To Fall 2021, 'Sopranos' Prequel Moves To March & More As Warner Bros. Makes Release Date Changes Due To COVID-19 Climate". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 20, 2020. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  34. ^ Michael Schneider (March 16, 2009). "David Chase cuts 'Ribbon' at HBO". Variety. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  35. ^ Peter Sciretta (March 16, 2009). "David Chase Returns with a Miniseries About The Birth of Cinema". /Film. Archived from the original on January 26, 2010. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  36. ^ Oxfeld, Jesse. "Stanford Magazine > September/October 2002 > Feature Story > Family Man". Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  37. ^ Pearson, Roberta (2011). "Cult Television as Digital Television's Cutting Edge". In Bennett, James; Strange, Niki (eds.). Television as Digital Media. Duke University Press. p. 113. ISBN 0-8223-4910-8.
  38. ^ Marlow, Stern. "thedailybeast > September 2014> Feature Entertainment>". Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  39. ^ Collins, Andrew (May 21, 2013). "The Week in TV: Game of Thrones, Mad Men and The Fall – video". The Guardian. Retrieved May 21, 2013.

External links

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