Before his tragic and untimely passing in June, James Gandolfini had filmed the pilot for an HBO mini-series called Criminal Justice. Based on the award-winning 2008 BBC drama of the same name, HBO initially passed on Criminal Justice. However, the pilot was later re-worked to fit a mini-series featuring Gandolfini as Jack Stone, a “downtrodden jailhouse attorney who frequents police stations for clients.” It is unclear if or how Gandolfini’s character compared to any of the original characters from the BBC version of the show.
Unfortunately for North American audiences, we may never know. Speaking with The Television Critics’ Association, HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo said they HBO “would never air the pilot with James in it.” Sadly, Lombardo added, “Jim’s passing took the wind out of our sails quite a bit. That [pilot] was just the beginning of the journey. The conversation would be about re-shooting the portion Jim had already performed in and recasting going forward.”
The Criminal Justice pilot, which completed filming in November of 2012, was directed and co-written by Oscar-winner Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) and Oscar-nominee Richard Price (The Color of Money). The episode also featured Rizwan Ahmed as Naz, an American-born Pakistani with no memory of the murder he’d committed (a role originally portrayed by Ben Whishaw in the BBC original); Bill Camp as Box; and Peyman Moadi and Poorna Jagannathan as Naz’s parents.