Chase at the US Embassy in Dublin, January 2015
David Henry Chase
August 22, 1945
Mount Vernon, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Wake Forest University|
New York University
|Occupation||Screenwriter, director, producer|
|Known for||Creator of The Sopranos|
|Children||1, Michele DeCesare|
David Henry Chase (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 was born into a working-class Italian American 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 and in North Caldwell, New Jersey. He has stated that he had many problems with overbearing parents when he was a child. He grew up watching matinée crime films and was well known as a creative storyteller. 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.
Chase struggled with panic attacks and clinical depression as a teenager, something that 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," he has stated. He described his problems as "normal, nagging, clinical depression." He also worked as a drummer during this period and aspired to be a professional musician. 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.
Before creating and developing The Sopranos, Chase started in Hollywood as a story or 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, Off the Minnesota Strip, 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, he 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.
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 cred 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. 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."
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.
In March 2018, Deadline Hollywood reported that New Line Cinema had purchased the script for The Many Saints of Newark, a background story to The Sopranos written by Chase and fellow screenwriter Lawrence Konner. The movie is set during the Newark riots of 1967 when racial conflicts "became especially lethal." Chase will serve as producer and is involved in the selection process for the director. In March 2019, Deadline Hollywood reported that the film would be released on September 25, 2020.
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[update], it is unknown what the status of the project is.
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.
Chase has stated that he "loathed and despised" television shows, watching only The Sopranos and movies. 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.
|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
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|
|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|
|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|
Uncred appearances in three episodes
|2017||BoJack Horseman||Yes||Voice role: Himself|
Episode: "See Mr. Peanutbutter Run"
|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|
|2020||The Many Saints of Newark||Yes||Yes|
[Chase] oversees everything, from writing the final polish on all scripts to supervising the ing of each episode.
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.
The Paramount-produced Twylight Zones is described as a drama about a New Jersey Rock'n'Roll band and the musical renaissance of the 1960s. It centers on Douglas (John Magaro), a socially awkward teen who begins to shine as lead singer in his band, The Twylight Zones. Gandolfini will play his father...