HBO and Sopranos kingpin James Gandolfini are reportedly on the verge of striking a new deal that would put an end to the ugly contract dispute that threatened to whack the hit mob drama. Paving the way for the compromise: The actor apparently scaled back his salary demands from $20 million annually to $16 million a year. Another factor triggering the truce was France's threatened veto of any resolution that gave HBO permission to use force to get Gandolfini to return to work.