James Gandolfini and David Chase
Photo: Getty Images

After years of openly ruminating on the possibility, David Chase seems to be making good on his promise to return to The Sopranos with a prequel, selling New Line on a big-screen feature with the working title The Many Saints Of Newark that will revisit the totally legitimate businessmen of 1960s New Jersey. Chase wrote the script with Lawrence Konner, who worked on several episodes of the show, with Deadline reporting that it all takes place during the Newark riots “at a time when the African-Americans and the Italians of Newark were at each other’s throats, and amongst the gangsters of each group, those conflicts became especially lethal.” Indeed, that “Long Hot Summer of 1967” finally erupted over a four-day stretch of July that left 26 people dead and hundreds injured. Interestingly—and germanely—a subsequent investigation into the causes of the riot unearthed deep-seated corruption tying city officials to contractors run by the mob.

Setting the prequel in the 1960s obviously opens it up to potential appearances from characters who were already introduced in The Sopranos—specifically Tony’s father, “Johnny Boy” Soprano; a younger, less existentially weary Livia; and Tony’s uncle, Junior. Though at this point, that’s still just a (very probable) assumption. Chase will produce the film in addition to being co-writer, and he’s expected to oversee the choice of a director as well. All told, it’s welcome news for Sopranos fans: Assuming he resists the urge to spend too much time on origin-story foreshadowing—an 8-year-old Tony running the streets with a tiny Artie Bucco, where we finally see the the first time he said “Oh!”—it’s an expansion of the show that’s safely removed from its original stories and characters, and it allows Chase to delve back into a universe he’s clearly never stopped thinking about. Besides, we already know how the story ends this time, so everyone can shut the fuck up about it.