A month after it made decisions on its previous pilot slate, handing out series orders to drama The Affair and comedy Happyish, the pay cable network is back at it, greenlighting its first pilot for 2014, drama Billions. It was written on spec by journalist/author Andrew Ross Sorkin, whose book about the 2008 financial crisis Too Big To Fail was adapted by HBO Films, and by the feature writing duo of Brian Koppelman and David Levien (Ocean’s Thirteen). Billions will stay in the world of finance/politics/power chronicled in Too Big to Fail. It focuses on the collision and, at times, collusion between an aggressive U.S. attorney in New York and some of the richest hedge fund billionaires in the country. Koppelman, Levien, and Sorkin executive produce. They are repped by CAA and Karl Austen. In TV, Koppelman and Levien recently served as showrunners on HBO’s Rock ‘n’ roll drama project from Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger. He also wrote the 2003 ABC drama pilot The Street Lawyer and created and executive produced the ESPN series Tilt.Of Showtime‘s newly picked up series, Happyish continues to be in limbo following the sudden death of star Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Related: 2014 Showtime Pilots
This could be a blow to The New York Times’ mergers and acquisitions coverage, even though the author of Too Big to Fail will continue to write a column there and oversee its DealBook site. Sorkin is one of the best-known and well-sourced reporters on the deal beat. But his frequent appearances on shows including MSNBC’s Morning Joe suggest that Sorkin has been bitten by the showbiz bug — and Squawk Box had an empty chair since Monday, when Carl Quintanilla left to host Squawk on the Street. Here’s the note that SVP Nik Deogun sent to the staff: Read More »
HBO has assembled the cast of Too Big to Fail, the Curtis Hanson-directed movie about the 2008 financial crisis and the power brokers who decided the fate of the world’s economy as the system teetered on collapse. Joining William Hurt, previously set to play Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, are James Woods as Dick Fuld, the last chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers nicknamed the “Gorilla” on Wall Street; HBO regular Paul Giamatti as Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke; Billy Crudup as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; Ed Asner as Warren Buffett; Kathy Baker as Wendy Paulson and Cynthia Nixon as Michele Davis. Also cast in the movie, set to begin production in mid-October, are Ayad Akhtar as Neel Kashkari, Topher Grace as Jim Wilkinson, Dan Hedaya as Barney Frank, Michael O’Keefe as Chris Flowers, Tony Shalhoub as John Mack and Joey Slotnick as Dan Jester. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: HBO has set William Hurt to play Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Curtis Hanson to direct Too Big To Fail, a dissection of the 2008 financial crisis and the power brokers who decided the fate of the world’s economy as the system teetered on collapse. Shooting begins in early fall. Peter Gould wrote the script, based on the book by The New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin who is a consultant on the project. Also consulting are Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera.
HBO had originally intended to make the film using their financial crisis book, All the Devils Are Here, as the basis for the film, but it wasn’t completed in time to be used as source material for Gould’s script. Hanson will be executive producer along with Spring Creek Productions’ Paula Weinstein and Jeffrey Levine. Carol Fenelon is co-executive producer and Ezra Swerdlow is producer. It marks the first time Hurt and Hanson have made films for HBO.
Paulson is the central focus of a film that dissects how the co-dependency between D.C. and Wall Street nearly destroyed and then repaired the crisis. HBO will begin casting the other major players that will include Paulson’s successor Timothy Geitner, Lehman Bros CEO Richard Fuld and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.