‘Sopranos’ chief singing new tune

Chase mulls seventh season

NEW YORK — Will “The Sopranos” be back for a seventh season?

Creator David Chase has opened the door to another round of the HBO mob drama, telling a Gotham audience during an interview with the New Yorker’s Ken Auletta that “these characters still have great interest for me” and that “we wouldn’t have to change anything important.”

HBO execs say they’re talking, but Chase hasn’t approached them definitively about renewing the show.

Shooting for the sixth season is under way, and the plan — until now — has been to end the run next spring.

But if the right offer came from HBO, Chase said he would consider altering the story to allow for a seventh season.

Chase began predicting the end of the series after four seasons but eventually extended that to a fifth and then a sixth.

The idea of yet another season has emerged before; in a conference call in April, thesp Michael Imperioli said Chase was “on the fence” about a seventh season.

But the recent syndication windfall may have changed a lot of minds. In February, A&E Networks paid $2 million an episode for syndie rights to the show, but HBO refused to put a cap on the number of episodes, leaving the door open to continue the show beyond spring 2006.

Another year of the series would be expensive, but an extension would no doubt be worth it to HBO, whose more recent programs haven’t rivaled the wide-scale appeal that made “Sopranos” a cultural phenomenon and subscriber engine.

Whether or not “The Sopranos” returns for another season, Chase said it will be his last TV series.

“I don’t think I could make a better show than this, and I wouldn’t want to bother trying,” Chase said.