David Chase, who had talked about ending the series after its upcoming fourth season, has signed a new deal with HBO that gives the network an option for a fifth which they will undoubtedly take.
The deal, which gives Chase part of the profits for future video and DVD sales, was estimated to be worth between $15 million and $20 million. HBO wouldn't comment on the terms.
"The Sopranos" received 22 Emmy nominations last week, more than any other show on broadcast or cable television. The series is one of the most important selling points for HBO, a pay service that depends on subscribers.
The third season ended in May. The show's fourth season is not expected to begin until September 2002.
Chase did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
In mapping out plans for the fourth season, Chase realized he had enough things he wanted to do with the characters for another year, HBO spokesman Quentin Schaffer said on Tuesday.
The show's ensemble of actors are all signed through six seasons, so there shouldn't be any problems keeping the cast together if Chase keeps the characters alive, of course.
The deal continues HBO's exclusive right to Chase's services for television, Schaffer said.
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