10:00am PT by Lacey Rose
Showtime Orders Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis Drama 'Billions' to Series
Showtime is investing in Billions.
The premium cable network has ordered 12 episodes of the financial drama starring Homeland veteran Damian Lewis and Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti. The hourlong entry, set in the Manhattan world of high finance, tells a contemporary tale of power politics.
Billions is written and executive produced by Rounders' Brian Koppelman and David Levien along with The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin, who famously chronicled the most recent financial crisis in his tome Too Big to Fail. (Given the dramatic nature of the crash, the latter was adapted into a critically acclaimed telepic starring Giamatti as Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke by HBO.) Series production on Billions is set to begin in New York later this year, with a 2016 premiere in mind.
"The dynamic star pairing of Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis is matched by an equally exciting team in the writing of this show," said Showtime Networks president David Nevins in a statement announcing the news Tuesday. "Andrew Ross Sorkin, one of the preeminent financial journalists of our time, has joined forces with Brian Koppelman and David Levien, two of Hollywood's most accomplished screenwriters, to tackle an incredibly timely and buzzy subject. With this caliber of writing and acting, I think the show's authenticity and insider look will have great appeal to a discerning audience."
The fictional drama will track the impending collision between two titanic figures: the hard charging, politically savvy U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Giamatti), and the ambitious, brilliant hedge fund king Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Lewis). The pair will be joined by Maggie Siff, Malin Akerman, Toby Leonard Moore, David Costabile and Condola Rashad. The pilot was helmed by acclaimed director Neil Burger (Divergent), who also serves as an executive producer on the series.
Billions reunites Nevins and his Showtime team with Lewis, who won an Emmy as Nicholas Brody before being killed off at the conclusion of Homeland's third season. Despite showrunner Alex Gansa's initial desire to kill the character off early in the series' run, Showtime brass was said to be particularly taken with Lewis and co-star Claire Danes' chemistry and urged the writing staff to reconsider.
Prior to Too Big, Giamatti's last significant small-screen turn was in the celebrated HBO miniseries John Adams, for which the prolific film actor earned an Emmy.