'Sopranos' writer returning to pay cabler

David Chase is back at HBO.

The scribe behind “The Sopranos” will develop “A Ribbon of Dreams,” a miniseries about the early days of Hollywood.

Chase is penning the mini and will direct the first few episodes. Paramount Pictures chairman-CEO Brad Grey, who exec produced “The Sopranos,” is aboard to exec produce.

HBO and Chase were mum on specifics of the project — including how many hours will be produced or when the longform may bow.

“A Ribbon of Dreams” will revolve around a cowboy and a mechanical engineer who form an unlikely producing partnership in 1913, making them pioneers in motion pictures.

The mini will follow the characters as they first work for D.W. Griffith and then eventually with marquee names such as John Ford, John Wayne, Raoul Walsh, Bette Davis and Billy Wilder. It will track the growth of Hollywood from the age of silent Westerns to the golden age of talkies and onward. As the longform moves on to the latter part of the 20th century, the action will shift to the main characters’ offspring.

Title comes from Orson Welles’ description of film as “a ribbon of dreams.”

“Ribbon” will come from HBO, Paramount Pictures and Chase Films.

Announcement was unexpected from Chase, who mostly has been lying low following the June 2007 conclusion of “The Sopranos.” Most had expected Chase’s next project to hit the bigscreen; he’s been writing a feature film for Paramount.Given past storylines on “The Sopranos,” it’s probably no surprise to learn that Chase harbors an interest in chronicling the entertainment biz. Past “Sopranos” story arcs had Hollywood as a subject, including Christopher (Michael Imperioli) as an aspiring filmmaker.

The return of Chase is good news for HBO, which continues to adjust to life beyond the glare of “The Sopranos” and its other former megahit, “Sex and the City.”

“It gives me pleasure to think of working, together with Brad, with HBO again,” Chase said.

“For seven years, David Chase dazzled and entertained the world with ‘The Sopranos,’ ” HBO co-prexy Richard Plepler said. “He’s a remarkable talent.”

Michael Lombardo, HBO’s West Coast operations and programming group prexy, said: “The epic scope of this miniseries will provide the perfect setting for his remarkable creative gifts.”

HBO miniseries prexy Kary Antholis is handling the project.

Separately, TCM is developing a 10-part documentary series that centers on the early days of Hollywood. “Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood” comes from Bill Haber’s Ostar Prods. (Daily Variety, March 16).

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