Despite the frequent insistence of ''Sopranos'' creator David Chase that he'd end the series after five seasons, there will be a sixth, series producer Brad Grey tells the New York Times. In recent days, Chase had suggested he might make the fifth season extra long in order to tie up loose ends that would have extended beyond the usual 13 episodes. Instead, Grey says, there will be a full fifth season and a slightly shorter sixth year, with 10 episodes. ''The big issue was the creative one that David had to make,'' Grey says. ''He had to decide whether he had more stories to tell, and he decided that he did.''
Still, it'll be a long time before Chase serves up his final plate of baked ziti. The fifth season is currently in production and won't air on HBO until next March, and the sixth season won't start shooting until late 2004 or early 2005, which means we could be well into 2006 before fans finally get to see the last of the series' 75 episodes. However, the New York Daily News quotes HBO officials as saying that stars James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Tony Sirico, Steven Van Zandt, Michael Imperioli, Edie Falco, Jamie Lynn Sigler, and Robert Iler have all signed on for the final season. So at least we know who doesn't get whacked in Season 5.