HBO is eulogizing James Gandolfini on TV, the web and social media, as premium cabler acknowledges the actor who firmly established its push into original television programming with his portrayal of Tony Soprano.
Gandolfini — best known for his turn as the New Jersey mob boss on “The Sopranos” over six seasons — died Wednesday at the age of 51 of a heart attack while on vacation in Italy.
Time Warner-owned net is attempting to be cautious and understated in Gandolfini tributes, so that it does not appear to be trying to cash in on his untimely death. Amazon.com on Wednesday night on Facebook posted a link to the DVD box set of the complete season of “The Sopranos”, but deleted it after users complained; in any case, DVD and digital download sales of the series have soared in the past two days.
On linear channels, HBO began running a 15-second on-air spot Thursday night that will continue through at least through the weekend, a rep said. The network is considering additional tributes from HBO programming “but we cannot provide additional information until details are finalized,” rep said.
Also Thursday, HBO and “The Sopranos” pages on Facebook switched their cover photos to solid back cover images with the text “James Gandolfini 1961-2013” along with the copy, “Today, we cut to black.” The HBO.com homepage features an image of Gandolfini with the official HBO statement about his death.
On Twitter, @HBOGO Friday morning started pointing followers to standout episodes featuring Gandolfini on HBO Go, the online streaming service available only to current subscribers of the network through a participating pay TV provider. Other HBO social profiles will “remain relatively silent for the day,” cabler’s rep said.
“He brought complexity and grace to Tony,” @HBOGO tweeted. “Today we relive the humanity of his iconic character. Follow along and watch with us. #Sopranos.”
HBO also will include a James Gandolfini memorial collection of programming on HBO Go. The network has declined to provide viewing statistics for the authenticated service.
Finally, cabler said it will place tribute ads in next week’s issues of Hollywood trade publications.