David Chase (born August 22, 1945) is an American writer, director and television producer. Chase has worked in television for more than 30 years; he has produced and written for such shows as The Rockford Files, I'll Fly Away, and Northern Exposure. He has created two original series; the first, Almost Grown, aired for 10 episodes in 1988 and 1989. Chase is best known for his second original series, the extremely influential and critically acclaimed HBOdramaThe Sopranos, which aired for six seasons between 1999 and 2007. A prominent figure in American television, Chase has won seven Emmy Awards.
Chase was born into a working class Italian-American family in Mount Vernon, New York. An only child, Chase grew up in a small garden apartment in Clifton, New Jersey and in North Caldwell. Chase has stated that as a child he had many problems with his parents, whom he feels were overbearing. He grew up watching matinée crime films and was well known as a creative storyteller during his childhood. Chase claims his father was an angry man who belittled him constantly as a child 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. You walked on eggshells." One of his characters on the HBO original series The Sopranos, Livia Soprano, is based on his mother. Chase struggled with panic attacks and severe depression as a teenager, something he still deals with today. 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," Chase later stated. He described his problems as "what's come to be known as normal, nagging, clinical depression. It was awful." He also worked as a drummer during this period, and held aspirations of being a professional musician. After two years, he transferred to New York University, where he announced his decision 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.
Before creating and developing The Sopranos, 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 nineteen episodes while on The Rockford Files—a show which he worked on in various capacities for more than four years. He won several Emmy awards, including one for a television movie, the story of a runaway he scripted in 1980. After The Rockford Files run ended the same year, Chase worked in numerous television jobs until he wound up in charge of Northern Exposure in 1993. Chase worked in relative anonymity before The Sopranos debuted. Inspired as a youth by the film The Public Enemy, Chase created the critically and commercially successful show by drawing heavily on his own personal life; the character of Livia Soprano is modelled after his own mother. In a recent interview Chase stated that he experienced frustration for a long period with being unable to break out of the TV genre and into film over this time. In 2000, David Chase was the recipient of the Austin Film Festival's Outstanding Television Writer Award. In 2005, Chase received a Special Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his entire body of work. He participated as arranger of On the Record musical.
His first original created series was Almost Grown in 1988, with Eve Gordon and Timothy Daly. Although the one-hour series was well received by critics, only 10 episodes aired from November 1988 to February 1989.
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 of the scripts, including producing and touching up each script's final draft. 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."
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 (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. 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. 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.
David Chase is in works to develop 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 silentWesterns, to the golden era of talkies and the studio system, to the auteur movement, to television, and finally to the present day."
After graduating from NYU in 1968 Chase moved to California and married his high school sweetheart Denise Kelly. He is the father of actress Michele DeCesare who appeared in six Sopranos episodes as Hunter Scangarelo. Despite (or perhaps because of) his lengthy career within the medium, Chase claims to "loathe and despise" television shows, watching only The Sopranos and movies such as Mildred Pierce, an example of films which he stated "in two hours, two hours and a half, told us everything we needed to know about every character in it".
^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."
^ abMcNary, Dave (January 24, 2011). "Gandolfini, Chase reconnect at 'Twylight' ". Variety.com. 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."