Categories Billions Music Print Media

Billions & Bangers: Showtime’s High Finance Drama is a Stealth Love Letter to Music – May 3, 2020

Becoming Fluent in the Musical Language of Billions

by Al Shipley | Complex | May 3, 2020

At a time when TV prestige dramas often have 90-second opening credits with an epic theme song and lavish visuals, Billions on Showtime has an unusually short and simple title sequence: an ominous aerial view of Manhattan, soundtracked by a queasy low electronic pulse, in and out in about 15 seconds. The show’s score and theme music is by Eskmo, an electronic producer associated with labels like Ninja Tune and Warp Records, who puts moody, unobtrusive beds of sound under the dialogue-heavy show about powerful hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod, his company Axe Capital, and the public officials trying to catch them breaking the law. But Billions, which returns with the Season 5 premiere on May 3, has gotten increasingly flashy with its nods to music since the Season 2 scene that featured a lengthy discussion of Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett’s creative chemistry in Wilco.

Increasingly, Billions has been rife with moments where music didn’t just provide an emotional backdrop but memorable dialogue. “Dollar” Bill Stern (Kelly AuCoin) belted out the opening verse of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” when Axe Capital hatched a plan involving “the chicken man” who sets prices in the poultry industry. Politician Chuck Rhodes (Paul Giamatti) air drummed to Al Green and offered a critical breakdown of 1977’s The Belle Album. And when Attorney General Waylon Jeffcoat (Clancy Brown) tried to intimidate Rhodes’s corrupt father into a confession, he said that he has a witness “singin’ like Hank Williams the elder, tellin’ us all about your cheatin’ heart.”

Continue reading Billions & Bangers: Showtime’s High Finance Drama is a Stealth Love Letter to Music – May 3, 2020

Categories Billions Print Media Review

Billions Is Back, and It’s More Billions Than Ever – May 3, 2020

Season 5 Interview with Co-Creators Brian Koppelman and David Levien

by Sam Schube | GQ | May 3, 2020

If it seems like the verbal acrobatics on Billions could only have come from a kind of writerly mind-meld, that’s because they do. Co-creators and showrunners David Levien and Brian Koppelman met at 15, and have spent the intervening years precision-honing their blend of gee-whiz plotting (Ocean’s 13) and subculture deep-diving (Rounders). Billions, their turbocharged take on the Wall Street machers running the world and the law-and-order types trying to reel them in, represents the apotheosis of both. (The journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin is also credited as a creator.)

On the one side, Damian Lewis’s Bobby Axelrod, a made-it-from-nothing master of the universe with a taste for Metallica and cashmere hoodies. On the other: Paul Giamatti’s New York AG Chuck Rhoades, the rule-bending lawman with a taste—as made public last season—for BDSM. Orbiting them is a scenery-chewing bunch of character actors, joined this year by Julianna Margulies (a professor with a bestseller about the female orgasm), Frank Grillo (a he-man painter), and Corey Stoll (Mike Prince, a billionaire investor whose conscious capitalism rankles Axe). In other words: it’s all still extremely Billions.

Continue reading Billions Is Back, and It’s More Billions Than Ever – May 3, 2020

Categories Behind the Scenes Billions Music Podcast

Introducing ‘Behind the Billions’ – May 2, 2020

Behind the Scenes Podcast on Spotify

by Gingersnap | damian-lewis.com | May 2, 2020

Introducing ‘Behind the Billions!’ Co-creators Brian Koppelman and David Levien give a behind-the-scenes look into Billions season five. After each episode’s airing on Showtime, the podcast will unpack the writing of the script, exclusive stories from production, the ideas behind the music cues, and much more on the Spotify app. The 12-episode podcast season will also include interviews with cast and crew members as well as bonus podcast episodes devoted to inside stories from Billions hosts: Brian Koppelman and David Levien. Spotify link here.

Categories Billions Print Media Review

Billions Returns to Old Conflicts and Alliances, While Adding New Foes – May 1, 2020

Psychological Warfare: All Smiles Through Gritted Teeth

by Brian Lowry | CNN | May 1, 2020

“Billions” has shuffled allegiances so many times it’s tough to keep track without a scorecard. But the bottom line is that Showtime’s high-stakes drama remains enormously entertaining, making its return more than welcome, even if the show’s latest creative bets feel somewhat hedged.

After the unexpected alliance between hedge-fund billionaire Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and now-New York Attorney General Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) throughout the fourth season — one of the show’s most audacious twists — the new campaign finds Axe having reabsorbed employee-turned-rival Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon) and back at odds with Chuck.

Still, perhaps the most interesting flourish of the new season sees the introduction of billionaire Mike Prince (Corey Stoll), who becomes a fierce opponent of Axe’s, even if he talks a good game about giving back to society and getting along.

Continue reading Billions Returns to Old Conflicts and Alliances, While Adding New Foes – May 1, 2020

Categories Billions Print Media Review

Billions Review: Money’s the Root of All the Delicious Evil – May 1, 2020

Backstabbing and Frontstabbing 

by Richard Roeper | Chicago Sun Times | May 1, 2020

Everyone is awful.

We’ve known that for quite some time about virtually all the major players (and many of the supporting ones as well) in Showtime’s addictive money-drenched drama “Billions,” but never has it been more evident than in the first four episodes of Season 5, which I screened in advance of Sunday’s season premiere.

Paul Giamatti’s ruthless attorney Chuck Rhoades; Damian Lewis’ power-mad billionaire Bobby Axelrod; Maggie Siff’s in-house psychiatrist/guru for Axelrod’s firm, Wendy Rhoades; Asia Kate Dillion’s genius analyst Taylor Mason; Jeffrey DeMunn’s well-connected power broker Charles Rhoades — they’re all out for themselves every step of the way, they’re all consumed with not only defeating but destroying their opponents, and they’re all borderline sociopathic in their respective quests. Even when someone expresses remorse or declares they’ve turned over a new leaf, it just sounds like they’ve taken the three-dimensional chess game to another level.

Continue reading Billions Review: Money’s the Root of All the Delicious Evil – May 1, 2020