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With scripted television production at record highs (52 shows during the 2015-16 season) in New York City, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (Mome) today launched a new initiative geared toward bringing diversity to New York City’s writing staffs.
In conjunction with the the New York City Department of Small Business Services (Sbs) and the Writers Guild of America, East (Wgae), Mome Commissioner Julie Menin announced this morning the creation of the Made in NY Writers Room. A six month fellowship in which 12 participants will get a top showrunner to help them with their works in progress.
Read More: Directors Share The Best Piece of Advice They Received at The Sundance Labs
Each participant in the program is assigned to a dedicated mentor from a roster that includes Sarah Treem (“The Affair”), Lee Daniels (“Empire”), Beau Willimon (“House of Cards”), Julie Klausner (“Difficult People”), Julie Martin (“Law & Order: »
- Chris O'Falt
The Writers Guild of America East has teamed with New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and the Department of Small Business Services for the Made in NY Writers Room, a fellowship program that aims to bolster the diversity of the writers in the city’s television writing staffs.
The six-month fellowship, which will accept open submissions starting Sept. 15, will accept 500 applicants for up to 12 writers (working either as individuals or as teams of two) to work one-on-one with New York-based showrunner mentors, including Beau Willimon (“House of Cards”) and Richard Lagravense (“The Divide”), who both attended a launch event for the program Thursday morning. Lee Daniels (“Empire”), Sarah Treem (“The Affair”), Julie Klausner (“Difficult People”), Julie Martin (“Law & Order: Svu”), and Brian Koppelman and David Levien (“Billions”) will also participate as mentors.
Writers will submit a pilot script for an original series, and each winner of the fellowship will work with a »
- Gordon Cox
The second second season of Brian Koppelman, David Levien, and Andrew Ross Sorkin's Billions TV show premieres on Showtime Sunday, February 19, 2016 at 10:00pm Et/Pt. Koppelman and Levien serve as showrunners.The Billions TV series cast includes: Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Maggie Siff, Malin Akerman, Toby Leonard Moore, David Costabile, and Condola Rashad. Get more details on Billions season two, taken from a multi-show press release.Read More… »
Wolk will play Craig Heidecker, an innovative young tech billionaire, in the sophomore season of the Showtime drama. The star currently headlines CBS’ summer drama series “Zoo,” which was just renewed for a third season. Based on James Patterson’s novel of the same name, “Zoo” is currently the summer’s second most-watched original scripted series on broadcast. “Zoo” airs its two-hour Season 2 finale on Sept. 6.
“Billions” stars Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis as they scorch the earth in a costly war for personal domination. It’s law versus money, with power, sex, and the soul of New York in the balance, as hard-charging U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Giamatti) squares off against billionaire hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Lewis). Maggie Siff stars as Wendy Rhoades, Chuck’s estranged wife and the top performance coach in the hedge fund »
- Laura Prudom
Two of Showtime‘s biggest exports have received domestic street dates.
The sixth season of Homeland will hit Showtime on January 15th with the show picking up several months after the events of season five, which took place in Berlin. Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is back on American soil, living in Brooklyn, New York, where she has begun working at a foundation whose efforts are to provide aid to Muslims living in the U.S. Season six will tackle the after effects of the U.S. presidential election, with the entire season taking place between election day and the inauguration.
Oscar winner and Emmy nominee F. Murray Abraham and Emmy and Tony Award winner Mandy Patinkin will also return for the new season. Deadline also revel that Homeland has officially been renewed through until season 8 – so that’s at least three more season of the hit series.
Meanwhile, Billions, which »
- Paul Heath
“Homeland” will return to Showtime for Season 6 on Sunday, January 15 at 9 p.m., Showtime announced during their presentation at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. Showtime President and CEO David Nevins also confirmed that “Homeland” had officially been renewed for Season 7 and Season 8, after previously telling reporters that the premium cabler was near a deal for a multi-season renewal in June.
Season 2 of “Billions” will premiere Sunday, February 19 at 10 p.m. Both series are currently in production in New York, marking “Homeland’s” return to the U.S. after two seasons filming on location in South Africa and Berlin.
“Homeland” stars Claire Danes, Rupert Friend, F. Murray Abraham and Mandy Patinkin. After she thwarted a terrorist attack in Berlin, Season 6 picks up several months later and finds Carrie Mathison (Danes) back on American soil, living in Brooklyn, New York. She has begun working at a foundation whose efforts are to provide aid to Muslims living in »
- Laura Prudom
In the era of peak TV, there’s no single path to becoming a showrunner.
Writers used to work their way up through a system and patiently wait their turn to run their own show. But the proliferation of outlets, increasing demand for bold content, and opportunities to scale a show to specific creative needs have combined to open the door for showrunners of various backgrounds and experience levels.
Six freshman series from the past year made Variety’s TV Producers Impact List with first-time showrunners at the helm: Showtime’s “Billions,” NBC’s “The Carmichael Show,” The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Netflix’s “Master of None,” Hulu’s “The Path,” and Wgn’s “Underground.” The only common link among the six is that they don’t conform to traditional notions of TV.
- Geoff Berkshire
For television writers striving for Emmy attention, our age of peak TV adds a new level of trial and tribulation to an already gladiatorial environment.
Nevertheless, a number of freshman contenders could make this year’s writing category a particularly interesting race with their takes on subjects that, in previous seasons, may never have made it out of the pitch phase.
Series such as “Underground,” “Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” “UnReal,” “Mr. Robot,” “Billions,” and others all have strong shots at Emmy noms. Different though they all may be, many of the ideas guiding their showrunners come from similar motivations.
Melissa Rosenberg, showrunner for Netflix’s widely acclaimed “Jessica Jones,” made a point of urging her staff to go against standard operating procedure when writing the Peabody Award-winning series.
“There’s always that mark where we say, ‘Oh well, it works,’ ” she says. “ ‘It works’ is what you would do on network. … If it wasn’t something we loved and that all of us were excited to write, we would say, ‘Let’s just explore. Can we do better?’ ”
The result: a comic book-inspired drama that defies the superhero label, featuring a flawed heroine whose backstory placed struggling with Ptsd, the aftermath of rape and abortion — issues network television has vehemently shunned — at the center of its first season’s narrative.
The 2015-16 season also saw Wgn America launch its slavery thriller “Underground,” which took a subject usually handled with absolute solemnity and instead set scenes to a modern soundtrack featuring hip-hop and pop music tracks, injecting subplots with soap- opera elements.
“We said we wanted to be bold storytelling-wise, visually, and with the music,” says Misha Green, who co-created the series with writing partner Joe Pokaski. “We also had the advantage, when we started researching the Underground Railroad, that this amazing story had never been told.”
“‘It works’ is what you would do on network. … If it wasn’t something we loved and that all of us were excited to write, we would say, ‘Let’s just explore. Can we do better?’ ” Melissa Rosenberg
“People talk about world-creation a lot when they’re talking about sci-fi movies,” says Koppelman, who, with Levien, came to TV after writing a number of film scripts starting with 1998’s “Rounders.” “But for us … the world of hedge funds and the world of United States attorneys are each worlds that lend themselves to that kind of cinematic treatment, because you’re dealing with people who consider themselves larger than life.”
USA Network also bet on the story of an outsized character who may not be all that he appears — and landed a serious awards contender in doing so. To date, “Mr. Robot,” a mind-warping tale of hacker culture, has already won a Golden Globe for best TV drama, as well as a Peabody.
Series creator Sam Esmail credits part of “Mr. Robot’s” success to it having been initially conceived as a film; the show’s first season mirrors the plan for his movie’s first act. His writers’ room reflects that. “It’s mostly feature [film] writers and not television writers, and we’re looking at it as, how do we efficiently and economically get to that satisfying conclusion,” Esmail says.
Jessica Goldberg, creator of “The Path”, approached her Hulu series from her experience as a playwright. “What people are compelled to do comes from whatever their emotional life happens to be,” she says.
Marti Noxon, showrunner for Lifetime’s “UnReal,” believes her show’s exploration of the psychology of reality television was key to connecting with the audience for her dark drama that goes behind the scenes of a fictional romantic competition series.
“This show is just trying to be a mirror, not only of why the characters are the way they are, but of why our culture is the way it is now,” Noxon says. “What does it do to us, when we try to have our cake and eat it too? I think in the end, everyone ends up hungry and sad.”
- Melanie McFarland
Way back in 2012, Warner Bros. announced they were moving forward on a Mandrake the Magician movie, based on the iconic comic strip created by Lee Falk that debuted in 1934. We haven't heard anything further about this project in the four years since then, but now it seems to be moving forward, with Sacha Baron Cohen coming aboard to star. Ethan Cohen, who made his directorial debut last year with Get Hard, is attached to direct.
The original comic strip followed the title character, an illusionist and a powerful hypnotist. He uses his abilities to fight crime with Lothar, one of the strongest men in the world. Universal Pictures produced a 12-part serial based on the comic strip in 1939, but the character has not been seen on the big screen ever since. There was also a 1954 TV movie based on the character that starred Coe Norton, but now it seems Mandrake »
“Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail and “Billions” co-creator David Levien hit it off the moment they met. The famed Algonquin Hotel was the perfect setting for a conversation with the showrunners behind two intense dramas that could only be set in New York City. As soon as they sat down, Esmail and Levien began to compare notes, trade compliments and swap tips about lensing in the city. They also offered the kind of detailed observations about each other’s shows that went well beyond lip service. [Esmail was envious of the nine-day shooting schedule for Showtime’s “Billions”; Levien, who co-runs his show with co-creator Brian Koppelman, was impressed by the amount of location work on USA’s “Robot.”] The mood in the room was enlivened by the presence of Emmy Rossum, Esmail’s fiancee and the star of Showtime’s “Shameless.” She took a firm hand in directing the photo shoot. But the real scene-stealer was Esmail and Rossum’s sweet-natured rescue pup, Pepper, who was just the right mix of excitable and adorable.
Both of your shows revolve around maverick individuals »
- Cynthia Littleton
A version of this story first appeared in the print edition of TheWrap Magazine’s The Race Begins Emmy Issue. Television has a long and storied history of series about rich people behaving badly, and Showtime waded into that tradition this season with “Billions,” the Brian Koppelman/David Levien/Andrew Ross Sorkin saga of big money and malfeasance in the wake of 9/11. The show began by focusing on Damian Lewis‘ hedge fund manager and Paul Giamatti‘s crusading U.S. Attorney, but over its first season it morphed into the story of two power couples, with Malin Akerman as Lewis »
- Stuart Brazell
With their addictive cocktail of glamorous parties, shameless infidelity and boardroom backstabbings, TV shows about the super-rich have rarely seemed grounded in reality. But recent programmes like The Night Manager and Billions are thought to offer a truer reflection of the uber-wealthy, with plots drawn from real-life corruption.
Billions, which follows hedge fund manager Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, has been described as “the rare show that understands the rich”. Showrunners Brian Koppelman and David Levien say they have received emails from famous billionaires praising the series, which focuses on the battle between Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and Us attorney general Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), who is convinced Axe is doing illegal insider trading.
Continue reading »
- David Batty and Sarah Hughes
Showtime’s “Billions” celebrated its lucrative first year run with a panel discussion for TV Academy members Tuesday at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills.
Stars Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Maggie Siff, Malin Akerman, David Costabile, Condola Rashad and co-creators and exec producers Brian Koppelman and David Levien were joined onstage by Variety‘s Maureen Ryan, who moderated the panel.
“The constant work is nice,” said film veteran Giamatti, who will have the chance again for the show’s second season. “It’s like the best of both worlds. It’s like doing a play because you get the same character to work on all of the time. But, it’s the good part of a movie in that there is always new material to work on.”
Giamatti’s character is Chuck Rhoades, an ambitious U.S. Attorney hell-bent on taking down Bobby Axelrod (Lewis), a self-made Wall Street billionaire »
- Lamarco McClendon
Spoiler Alert: Do not read unless you have seen the April 10 season one finale of “Billions,” “The Conversation.”
The big finish of the first season of “Billions” — the fiery confrontation between Chuck Rhoades and Bobby Axelrod — was in fact the big finish after six months of filming on season one. Brian Koppelman and David Levien, showrunners and co-creators of the Showtime drama with Andrew Ross Sorkin, made a point of making that the last scene lensed.
Just as it was important to stoke anticipation for the inevitable showdown between Chuck and Axe among viewers, it was important to have some tension building up for stars Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. Saving that sequence for last allowed both actors to leave it all on the floor — the decimated floor of Axe Capital.
“We really went out of our way to make that the last shot of the season,” Levien told Variety. »
- Cynthia Littleton
Sharply written and tailor-made to its two marquee stars, “Billions” deals with plenty of weighty issues but proved most enjoyable for an attribute that a lot of premium-cable dramas can tend to forget: Fun. And that set up a finale that made a number of hairpin turns, before rather niftily laying the foundation for a second season.
In its closing moments (and Spoiler Alert if you haven’t watched), in which a U.S. attorney, Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), confronted hedge-fund billionaire and season-long quarry Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis), the program actually brought to mind the movie “Duplicity,” which also co-starred Giamatti. Granted, in that corporate-espionage tale it was two titans of industry duking it out, but in each case the show involves powerful men, using every resource at their disposal in an effort to gain advantage over the other.
The last couple of hours also took perhaps the show’s most improbable, »
- Brian Lowry
This story first appeared in the April 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe. That's based on me, right? That's the question I get at least several times a week from financiers on Wall Street who have convinced themselves they're the inspiration for some part of Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund manager at the center of Billions, the Showtime drama I co-created with showrunners Brian Koppelman and David Levien. But the question always seems loaded. On one level, the financiers appear desperate to believe, at least theoretically, that they are the
- Andrew Ross Sorkin
Paris – Graced by David Chase, Cuba Gooding Jr. Harlan Coben, Stephen Poliakoff, Frank Spotnitz, Lucia Puenzo and “Dexter” showrunner Clyde Phillips, the Paris’ 7th Series Mania, a drive by French authorities to create a TV event that can sit side by side with Cannes Festival, will open April 15 with HBO’s sex-and-drugs laced 1970s music-scene drama “Vinyl,” whose creators include Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese.
Closing April 24 with Hulu’s Stephen King adaptation “11.22.63,” the premiere French TV festival will also boast a new eight-series international competition as it steps up in scale, ambition and government backing. Industry participation is also expected to grow from last year’s 980 execs.
Fest will also feature four other competitions, focusing on American, French, a worldwide Panorama and Web series, plus as industry highlights, a European TV Series Co-Production Forum running April 19-21, featuring 16 TV projects, and a work-in-progress sneak-peak of “Marseille,” Netflix’s first French original series, »
- John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy
As Donald Trump and other presidential candidates debate what to do about strengthening the U.S.-Mexican border, the Oscar-nominated “Cartel Land” examines the drug wars and the hold that the cartels have in Mexican towns and villages.
The film’s director, Matthew Heineman, tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM that he wishes “there was a silver bullet, but I don’t think there is.”
“The elephant in the room in all of this is America’s voracious appetite for drugs,” he says. “Stopping the border is something we have tried to do for decades. The cartel will always find a way to ship drugs northward. They are using all different means of doing so. They are still doing the old school way of walking across the border with backpacks. They have tunnels. They have submarines. They have aircraft. The drugs will always find their way northward. Similarly, guns will »
- Ted Johnson
Stan chief executive, Mike Sneesby.
Streaming service Stan has signed a long-term exclusive licensing agreement with CBS to become the official Australian home of Showtime.
The deal will bring all future Showtime series and hundreds of hours of programming to the Australian streaming service.
.It will also provide Stan with an exclusive license to the Showtime brand and trademark.
The agreement kicked off earlier this week with the premiere of Billions in Australia, following its series debut in the Us..
Stan chief executive, Mike Sneesby, said the deal rounded out an amazing first year for Stan, "with more than 1.5 million Australians having used the service across almost 700,000 subscriptions since our launch on Australia Day 2015..
"Showtime is one of the world.s greatest creators of television programming, and we are delighted to enter this long-term partnership, cementing our position as Australia.s leading local Svod service. »
- Staff Writer
Wall Street’s Powers That Be (read: Showtime) have formally announced plans to continue financial drama Billions into season 2.
Brian Koppelman and David Levien’s acclaimed series may claim that power is the ultimate currency, but record-breaking viewing figures aren’t too shabby, either. According to Showtime, Koppelman and Levien – who created, wrote and executive produce the show – premiered Billions earlier this month when it became the highest debut ever for a freshman series in the network’s history.
That’s quite the feat, and the mere fact that Billions has earned a season 2 order even though only two episodes of the Wall Street thriller have aired is a testimony to the show’s ability to make a stellar first impression. Indeed, Showtime noted that, when accounting for delayed viewing, the premiere for Koppelman and Levien’s ludicrously entertaining drama pulled in 6.5 million viewers, eclipsing the previous record set by »
- Michael Briers
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