Written By GingersnapComments Off on ‘Billions,’ ‘Succession’ and the Making of Wealth Porn – March 14, 2019
The Ultrawealthy. The 1 Percent of the 1 Percent
by Alexis Soloski | New York Times | March 14, 2019
Eric Daman, the “Billions” costume designer, works with the actor Damian Lewis on set. Credit Antonio Santos for The New York Times
Two years ago, Aidan Sleeper needed to find an apartment.
Sleeper, the locations manager for “Billions,” returning Sunday for its fourth season on Showtime, scouted more than 100 places that list for tens of millions of dollars, but he couldn’t find the right one. “It was impossible,” he said.
The apartment wasn’t for his own use — he and his wife rent in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. No, he had to lock down a Manhattan residence for Bobby Axelrod, the “Billions” hedge fund phenom played by Damian Lewis. The space couldn’t be comfortable or cozy. It needed to intimidate, astound, overwhelm, gut punch your breath away.
“We always joke, ‘billionaire, not millionaire,’” Sleeper said on a January morning at the “Billions” production office in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, as he scrolled through a desktop folder of photos. He clicked for a moment on a $65 million triplex that hadn’t impressed him when he toured it: “You walk in there and it’s like, really?” He shrugged and scrolled on.
Written By GingersnapComments Off on Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti Explain Why Billions Season 2 is More Relevant Than Ever – Feb 20, 2017
Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti Explain Why ‘Billions’ Season 2 is More Relevant Than Ever
by Nikolay Nikolov – Mashable – February 20, 2017
When Billions first aired on TV in January 2016, the main takeaway was that in the hunt for power and money, you sometimes have to break a few rules. It was a Machiavellian world set on the stage of a more familiar Wall Street.
Written By GingersnapComments Off on Review: Billions Delivers a Dose of Charisma to Hedge Fund Titans – Jan 15, 2016
Review: ‘Billions’ Delivers a Dose of Charisma to Hedge Fund Titans
by Heather Havrilesky – The New York Times – January 15, 2016
Damian Lewis portrays the hedge fund titan Bobby Axelrod in the series “Billions,” beginning Sunday on Showtime. JEFF NEUMANN / SHOWTIME
Men who make lots of money and growl at one another about profits and margins and winning and losing. Remember them?
Americans used to love watching stories about those guys, in the years before the excesses of Wall Street spawned a great recession and before Bernie Madoff brought abject fear back to personal investing. Once their shortsighted shell games toppled the world economy, though, it was a little harder to get into that high-capitalist gambling spirit.
Written By GingersnapComments Off on The New Showtime Drama ‘Billions’ Shows Us Two Different Kinds of Power – Jan 13, 2016
The New Showtime Drama ‘Billions’ Shows Us Two Different Kinds of Power
Paths to Power – Wall Street vs. The Justice System
Business Insider – January 13, 2016
“Billions,” the new original drama from SHOWTIME®, stars Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis as two opposing forces in the very different worlds of the Justice System and Wall Street. See the infographic below to find out more about the power that each side brings to the table.
Great TV always scratches some deeper itch in the culture. And, in the last three decades at least, that itch has often been connected to money.
“The Sopranos” explored the gangster soul of capitalism and the profound emptiness even in its winner’s circle. “The Wire” showed how the drug trade in Baltimore was not that different from the business done on Wall Street. “Breaking Bad” started from the premise of a middle-class teacher who turned to making illegal drugs to provide for his family after being diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Given that history and the six hours I have seen of Showtime’s new Sunday-night series “Billions,” which premieres Jan. 17, I’m feeling like we might be looking at greatness here.
The drama about a ferociously ambitious U.S. attorney and a high-flying, regulation-breaking hedge fund king features two great actors in Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. Giamatti plays the attorney, Chuck Rhoades, who sees the prosecution of Lewis’ character, Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, as his ticket to higher office.
As the chief federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, which includes Manhattan, Rhoades has enormous power over the great financial institutions of American life. And while he speaks in the high-minded rhetoric of civic reform and “servant of the people,” he comes from a world of privilege and lives a life of compromises, contradictions and look-the-other-way lies.
His arrogance in the workplace is unbounded. If he’s the good guy here, he’s not a very likable one.
“When I bring an action, it’s not some county or even state,” he warns. “It’s the United States versus. Don’t give me a reason.”
Or how about this lovely quote: “My father always taught me ‘mercy’ was a word p—— used when they couldn’t take the pain.”
He revels in his power, except in the bedroom, where he’s the “M” partner in an S&M marriage.
The series opens on one of the most intense and graphic S&M scenes I’ve ever seen on mainstream TV — even premium cable. But in its exploration of sex as power, it is artistically righteous. I was rooting for “Billions” from the opening bell for going there so fearlessly.
Rhoades’ wife, Wendy (Maggie Siff), is just as complex a character. She works as an in-house performance coach at Axelrod’s Axe Capital firm. She goes way back with Axelrod and is one of the few people in his uber-competitive boiler room in whom he seems able to confide.
Siff is superb as an ambitious professional using her psychological training to carve out her own territory of control as she navigates between these two male combatants. You might remember her as Rachel Menken, the department store heiress and Don Draper love interest in “Mad Men,” another great drama that was all about money, power and desire.
In the hands of lesser dramatists, the obvious conflicts of interests involving this marriage might derail the series.
I can imagine someone reading this and saying, “Wouldn’t she have to quit her job?” Or, perhaps, “Given her job, wouldn’t Rhoades have to recuse himself from the case his office is trying to build against Axelrod?”
Both questions are valid. There are wisely scripted and convincingly played scenes in which those questions are raised, debated, worried over, and raged against at work and home. This being a very, very contemporary marriage, Mr. and Ms. Rhoades throw the conflict in each other’s face when it suits them.
It’s great stuff. But Bobby Axelrod is the character you can’t take your eyes off of.
“Axe is no ordinary billionaire,” Rhoades says. “He’s an icon of the wealth of our age. And he’s a fraud. So when he falls, he’ll hit the ground hard.”
Given the anger that remains over how few of the men and women who drove the economy off the cliff in 2008 were ever prosecuted, it would have been easy for the producers to make Axelrod the target of all that enmity.
Greed is most definitely good for Wall Street kingpin Damian Lewis in the latest trailer for his series Billions.
Showtime’s upcoming 12-part drama takes place in the fast-paced world of hedge funds, where traders play fast and loose with government regulations.
The king of this opulent world is Bobby ‘Axe’ Axelrod (Lewis), whose open defiance of the law makes him the target of a government investigation.
Aiming to bring him down is steadfast US Attorney Chuck Rhoades, played by Golden Globe winner Paul Giamatti. Their conflict threatens to rock the very foundations of the US financial market – and could lead to ruin for one or both.