HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Round two of "The Sopranos (news - Y! TV)" wars opens Tuesday when HBO is expected to sue James Gandolfini (news), claiming he would cost the network $100 million by failing to show up for the fifth season of the popular and highly profitable mob drama.
"We are exposing the frivolous nature of (Gandolfini's) claims in our answer and cross-complaint," said attorney Bert Fields, who represents the premium cable channel.
"If he doesn't show up by March 24, he's going to owe a huge amount of money," added Fields, who said there are no plans to continue the show without Gandolfini, who stars as conflicted mob boss Tony Soprano.
Gandolfini's attorney, Marty Singer, said, "We haven't said he's not going to show up. We're waiting for information about the viability of our claim that he didn't get proper notice. I would think HBO would want to give us that information rather than bring a lawsuit."
Gandolfini sued HBO last week claiming that under his contract, he does not need to perform unless he is notified of an additional season 10 days after it is ordered by HBO. The claim that Gandolfini was not notified in a timely fashion that there would be a fifth season is based on a report in the Wall Street Journal on July 17, 2001, that HBO had ordered a fifth season and had agreed to pay series creator David Chase $20 million.
The actor's complaint also alleges that Gandolfini's contract violates California law limiting personal service contracts to seven years.
Fields told Daily Variety that California's labor statute isn't applicable.
"Gandolfini's a resident of New York, HBO is in New York, and the contract is governed by New York law," Fields said. As for the notice provision, Fields said Gandolfini got timely notice under the contract and that an article in the Wall Street Journal isn't what sets the time clock running. "It looks like we're heading for a train wreck here," Fields said.