The Sopranos premiered on HBO 20 years ago this Thursday; on January 10, 1999. The anniversary is being commemorated with an excellent new book by Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall called The Sopranos Sessions, an episode-by-episode look back at the show as well as a lengthy interview with series creator David Chase.

Chase has been out doing press for the anniversary, and in an interview with Deadline he revealed more information than ever before about the upcoming Sopranos prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark. Previously, Chase has only said that it is a story set in the past in the same fictional universe of The Sopranos, chronicling events prior to the start of the series. Now he confirms much more about the story and the characters — including a young Tony Soprano.

Tony will not be the focus, though. He’s still a kid during the events of the film. As many speculated given the movie’s title, the protagonist will be Dickie Moltisanti, the father of Christopher Moltisanti, the character played on The Sopranos by Michael Imperioli. Fans of The Sopranos know a little about Dickie and his fate, but the film will fill in the details, looking at “the mob’s origins in the turbulence of racial tensions between African Americans and Italian Americans in Newark, NJ.”

As to why Chase would return to the most acclaimed and beloved show of all time and risk mucking with its legacy, here’s what he told Deadline:

I was against [the movie] for a long time and I’m still very worried about it, but I became interested in Newark, where my parents came from, and where the riots took place. I was living in suburban New Jersey at the time that happened, and my girlfriend was working in downtown Newark. I was just interested in the whole Newark riot thing. I started thinking about those events and organized crime, and I just got interested in mixing those two elements.

Alan Taylor will direct The Many Saints; he directed many episodes of The SopranosMad MenGame of Thrones and others, along with, er, Thor: The Dark World. Chase is producing and co-writing the screenplay. It sounds like an excellent idea for a film, with or without young Tony in there. Probably Chase had to include him; if you make a Sopranos prequel and he’s not in it that’s all anyone’s going to want to talk about.

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