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'Billions' Creator Shares Story On How The Show Saved His Career

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'Billions' Creator Shares Story On How The Show Saved His Career

The "Billions" season 5 premiere airs Sunday, May 3 at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime, a susbsidiary of ViacomCBS (NASDAQ: VIAC). The show, created by Brian Koppelman, David Levien and Andrew Ross Sorkin, premiered in January of 2016 and has been a big hit ever since.

A version of this article was originally published on Sept. 5, 2016.

Showtime’s “Billions” has been a huge hit for the network. Co-creator Brian Koppelman opened up on Twitter about how the impact the show had on his career.

“Billions” is a drama series loosely based on former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who gained notoriety for taking on billionaire Steve Cohen of hedge fund S.A.C. Capital Advisors. Along with dramas like "Homeland" and "Ray Donovan," the show has become a tentpole for Showtime since it debuted.

Low Point

Koppelman said a little more than a year prior to the “Billions” pilot, he was at a very low point in his career.

“Fifteen months before, I really thought my career might be over. Or radically smaller. Because in October of 2013 a (bad) movie we wrote bombed and we were fired from an HBO show we were hired to run,” he wrote in a tweet.

Koppelman was seemingly referring to the movie “Runner Runner,” which received generally negative reviews and generated only $62 million at the box office on a $30 million production budget. The movie has just an 8 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

He went on to say that because of the failure, he and Levian were told at the time by their agents that they were nearly unhirable in Hollywood. Koppelman said he was so pessimistic about the outlook for his career that he even had conversations with his wife about selling their apartment and downsizing.

“Although we’d saved money, I believed the agents that there might never be another opportunity,” he wrote.

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Artistic Rebirth

However, Koppelman and Levian decided to be true to their calling and simply write the pilot for “Billions” without any deal in place. He said creating “Billions” felt like a rebirth for him and his career. He concluded his tweeting with a message of positivity to his followers.

Koppelman and his writing partner David Levian previously wrote the original screenplay for the Matt Damon movie “Rounders” in 1997. The two also wrote the blockbuster sequel “Ocean’s Thirteen.”

 

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