Born in Mt. Vernon, New York, and raised in New Jersey, David Chase (born David DeCesare) dreamed of being a star drummer in a rock band! He spent many years playing drums and bass trying to be part of a successful rock band in the 1960s East Coast music scene. He also loved movies, such as The Public Enemy (1931) with James Cagney and TV shows like The Untouchables (1959) with Robert Stack. When not making music, he watched 1960s' Hollywood and foreign films avidly. After his music career ended, he got the inspiration to buy a movie camera and make his own movies. He studied at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and later the graduate film program at Stanford University. He began writing for network TV drama programs in the early 1970s. He eventually became a writer and producer on the classic NBC detective show The Rockford Files (1974) with James Garner. While on "Rockford", he penned many memorable episodes and pieces of dialog. He won his first Emmy in 1978, the year "Rockford" won the award for Best Dramatic Series. Many biographies incorrectly state that Chase won his first Emmy for writing the acclaimed TV movie, Off the Minnesota Strip (1980). Although it is a sensitive and well observed story about a young runaway trying to make sense of her life after being returned to her Midwestern family from a life of prostitution in New York City, Chase actually won his second Emmy (and a Writer's Guild Award) for that project. He then spent the 1980s and early 1990s getting paid for writing various TV scripts while writing feature film projects that never got produced. He also began directing his TV scripts whenever possible. He often told people stories about the troubled relationship he shared back in New Jersey with his mother. Encouraged to write about it, he found a way to combine a story about his mother with a mob story and a story about psychotherapy, which Chase had also began during this time. This intersection of ideas and themes led Chase to write the landmark pilot script to a show that the Fox network developed, then passed on shooting. HBO then decided to roll the dice with Chase on this odd mixture of mother/son conflict, mobster danger and insecurities about psychological therapy. The result: The Sopranos (1999). Everybody connected with the project thought they would film a pilot episode, it would not go to series and that would be that. It has since gone on to become one of the most successful shows to ever come out of a cable network. Chase and his crew have collected Emmy, Golden Globe, Writer's Guild and Director's Guild Awards for the show. In terms of impact and subject matter, it has been compared to The Godfather (1972). Chase vows to get his feature film projects off the ground, as soon as "The Sopranos" ends its run.
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