David Chase

David Chase
David Chase 2015.jpg
Chase at the US Embassy in Dublin, January 2015
David Henry Chase

(1945-08-22) August 22, 1945 (age 74)
Alma materWake Forest University
New York University
Stanford University
OccupationScreenwriter, director, producer
Years active1974–present
Known forCreator of The Sopranos
Spouse(s)Denise Kelly
Children1, Michele DeCesare

David Henry Chase[1][2] (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.

Early life and education[]

Chase was born into a working-class Italian American[3] 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[4] and in North Caldwell, New Jersey.[5] He has stated that he had many problems with overbearing parents when he was a child.[4] He grew up watching matinée crime films and was well known as a creative storyteller.[6] 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.[7][8]

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."[4] He also worked as a drummer during this period and aspired to be a professional musician.[6] 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.[4] He won several Emmy awards, including one for a television movie, Off the Minnesota Strip, the story of a runaway he scripted in 1980.[4] 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.[4] Chase worked in relative anonymity before The Sopranos debuted.[4] Inspired as a youth by the film The Public Enemy,[6] 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.[8] 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.[4] 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.[9] Although the one-hour series was well received by critics,[10] only 10 episodes aired from November 1988 to February 1989.[11]

The Sopranos[]

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.[12] 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."[13]

The Sopranos crs
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[]

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.[14][15] 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.[14] 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.[16]

Upcoming projects[]

The Many Saints of Newark[]

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."[17] 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.[18]

A Ribbon of Dreams[]

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, it is unknown what the status of the project is.[19][20]

Personal life[]

After graduating from NYU in 1968, Chase moved to California and married his high school sweetheart Denise Kelly.[4] He is the father of actress Michele DeCesare who appeared in six Sopranos episodes as Hunter Scangarelo.[21]

Chase has stated that he "loathed and despised" television shows, watching only The Sopranos and movies.[22] 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.[23][24]


Year Title Director Writer Producer Actor Notes
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
1975–1976 Switch Yes 6 episodes
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
1982 Palms Precinct Yes Executive Pilot
Also creator
1982 Moonlight Yes Executive 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
1993–1995 Northern Exposure Story Executive
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"


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
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

Awards and recognition[]

List of awards and recognitions


  1. ^ Says his name was not David DeCesare at birth in this interview: https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/interviews/david-chase# Archived March 31, 2019, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "David Chase's Not Fade Away" Archived October 2, 2019, at the Wayback Machine, Oct 5, 2012, Time magazine
  3. ^ "Boss of Bosses". The Star-Ledger. Archived from the original on April 26, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Peter Biskend. "An American Family" Vanity Fair , April 2007, accessed May 6, 2007.
  5. ^ DeCaro, Frank. " No Longer the Punch-Line State; Lauryn Hill, the Sopranos and others are unapologetic New Jerseyans.", The New York Times, April 4, 1999."Growing up in Clifton and North Caldwell, Mr. Chase said, New Jersey seemed "very exciting and very mysterious, not dull and predictable as many New Yorkers like to believe."
  6. ^ a b c David Chase: Creator, HBO.com, accessed May 6, 2007.
  7. ^ Martin, Brett (October 30, 2007). ""Once You're in this Family, There's No Getting Out:" Meet the Sopranos". The Sopranos: The Complete Book. New York City: Time Inc. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-1-933821-18-4.
  8. ^ a b Robin Dougherty (January 20, 1999). "Chasing TV". Archived from the original on October 11, 1999. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  9. ^ Baker, Kathryn. (November 23, 1988) Wichita Eagle. "Almost Grown: tells story of growing up. Section:Lifestyle; Page 9A.
  10. ^ Bark, Ed. (October 2, 1988) Dallas Morning News A critic picks the season's top ten. Section: Arts & Entertainment; page 1C.
  11. ^ Vero Beach Press Journal (November 12, 2000) Pipline. Section: TV Journal; Page 32.
  12. ^ 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 ing of each episode.
  13. ^ Alan Sepinwall (June 11, 2007). "David Chase speaks". The Star-Ledger.
  14. ^ a b McNary, 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.
  15. ^ Jay A. Fernandez (March 8, 2010). "'Sopranos' creator to direct coming-of-age film". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  16. ^ "Brad Garrett Moves To David Chase's Musical Movie". NextMovie. February 3, 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  17. ^ Mike Fleming Jr. (March 8, 2018). "David Chase Revives 'The Sopranos' With New Line Prequel Movie 'The Many Saints Of Newark'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  18. ^ https://www.nj.com/entertainment/2019/03/sopranos-movie-gets-release-date-and-a-new-title-newark.html
  19. ^ Michael Schneider (March 16, 2009). "David Chase cuts 'Ribbon' at HBO". Variety. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  20. ^ Peter Sciretta (March 16, 2009). "David Chase Returns with a Miniseries About The Birth of Cinema". /Film. Archived from the original on January 26, 2010. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  21. ^ Oxfeld, Jesse. "Stanford Magazine > September/October 2002 > Feature Story > Family Man". Stanfordalumni.org. Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  22. ^ Pearson, Roberta (2011). "Cult Television as Digital Television's Cutting Edge". In Bennett, James; Strange, Niki (eds.). Television as Digital Media. Duke University Press. p. 113. ISBN 0-8223-4910-8.
  23. ^ Marlow, Stern. "thedailybeast > September 2014> Feature Entertainment>". thedailybeast.com. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  24. ^ Collins, Andrew (May 21, 2013). "The Week in TV: Game of Thrones, Mad Men and The Fall – video". The Guardian. Retrieved May 21, 2013.

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