Gandolfini fracas: business, not personal

Public flare-up came in March when star threatened to leave series

While Chris Albrecht has basked in the glow of “The Sopranos,” the darling of critics has come with its share of headaches as well.

The most public flare-up came in March when star James Gandolfini threatened to leave the series as production was about to begin on season five.

The Emmy-winning actor was looking to renegotiate his deal with HBO after the cabler re-upped with “Sopranos” creator David Chase. Gandolfini filed suit against the network, hoping to force HBO to raise his salary.

A furious HBO, in turn, sued Gandolfini for $100 million, trying to not-so-gently persuade Gandolfini that if he didn’t show up at work, it would cost him dearly.

After HBO attorney Bert Fields recused himself because of a conflict of interest, in stepped Albrecht friend and “Sopranos” exec producer Brad Grey to calm the storm. Grey’s appeal to both parties succeeded as both Gandolfini and HBO dropped their lawsuits and the actor returned to work.

Gandolfini, who was earning approximately $400,000 an episode before the fray, now has a deal that will pay him close to double that figure. With salary and advances against syndication that will be retroactive to season one, Gandolfini will make in the vicinity of $13 million for the fifth season, which will premiere in the spring.

And of course, after the brouhaha was settled, both Albrecht and Gandolfini — in true showbiz tradition — had nothing but kind words for each other.

“We are delighted that the great Jim Gandolfini will be back at work in the role he has created with such distinction,” Albrecht’s statement read.

Gandolfini offered: “I’m very happy that ‘The Sopranos’ will be back. It’s a show that I love doing with people I love working with.”

Only in Hollywood.