Tag Archives: “Billions” TV show

Jessica Caldwell’s “Billions”

As the Westport Country Playhouse reaches out to younger audiences, a new generation of trustees has joined its board.

One name is familiar: 24-year-old State Senator (and 2014 Staples High School graduate) Will Haskell.

Jessica Caldwell is not as well known. But she has a fascinating back story, one that serves her well in her role helping oversee the 90-year-old theater.

Raised in a lobstering village of 500 people off the coast of Maine, and just 16 when she headed to college, Caldwell took screenwriting, writing and communications courses as an undergrad.

Jessica Caldwell

That led to Columbia University’s MFA program, from 2009 to ’12. She went on to produce independent feature films (“Electrick Children,” “Happy Baby,” “AWOL”). and the upcoming “When I’m Done Dying.”

Her feature films have premiered at Berlinale, SXSW and Tribeca. Her short films were shown at Sundance, Telluride and Tribeca.

She’s had a hand too in TV. After hearing Brian Koppelman and David Levien speak while still in school, she connected with them on social media. When they needed an assistant for a new show called “Billions,” they hired the 26-year-old Caldwell.

She worked in the writer’s room and as a showrunner — both in assistant roles.. It was an “intensive crash course, with amazing actors and a great network.” The experience was both exhausting and exhilarating.

“Billions” was set originally in Westport. The hedge fund was modeled in part on Bridgewater. Caldwell did not yet live here. And she was not yet married to her husband — who coincidentally now works for a local hedge fund.

“Billions”‘ Axe Capital hedge fund was originally set in Westport.

Koppelman and Levien encouraged her to write full time. She’s written features and book adaptations, and helps develop ideas for production, like “Gonzo Girl.” A first-person story about a bizarre first date got plenty of New York Times attention.

“I keep trying to roll the ball forward,” Caldwell says. “You never know what people will want.”

The pandemic changed how she works. Pitches were done entirely on Zoom, with executives in Los Angeles and producers in London.

It was a tough time for feature films. But the rise of platforms like Disney+, Paramount+, Apple TV+ and Peacock filled people’s needs for entertainment options. “We’ve all had to think on our feet and adapt,” Caldwell notes.

She is thankful to have a place like Westport to write in (and, with her husband, raise their year-old son).

Living here has brought her to the Playhouse, too. She first volunteered for the annual gala; the more she saw, the more she realized she could help reach out to younger audiences.

New trustees will help the Westport Country Playhouse reach younger audiences.

She looks forward to mentoring younger members of the arts community. She is thankful for the help Koppelman and Levien gave her, early in her career, when “Billions” was just starting out.

And when the only reason she knew Westport was through the fictional world of its Axe Capital.

Westport’s Newest “Billions” Hedge Fund

Hedge fund guys — well, every one but Steve Cohen — are known for keeping low profiles.

But how many Westporters have heard of Bobby “Axe” Axelrod? Or AXE Capital, the Westport-based firm he runs?

Okay, there’s a reason he and his company are so hush-hush.

They exist only on Showtime.

But starting Sunday (January 17, 10 p.m.), the whole country will know about Axelrod and AXE. That’s when the cable channel debuts “Billions,” a “hedge fund drama” set in our town.

'Billions' - Showtime

Business Insider predicts big things — across America, not just in hedge fund hot spots like here. The show “hits a sweet spot between the laymen and the industry folk,” BI says. The reason: “Billions” focuses more on men and their egos than on the intricacies of Wall Street.

Damian Lewis plays Axelrod. His nemesis is US Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), who tries to nail him for insider trading.

Here are some other reasons Business Insider loves “Billions”:

  • “The show nailed what all the hedge fund traders wear — fleeces and loafers. That’s the classic uniform.”
  • “There’s a punchline about Axelrod going to Hofstra while his smart (but not quite worthy) analyst went to Stanford. It’s the age old street-smarts vs. book-smarts Wall Street feud.”
  • “Rhoades’ wife is Axelrod’s in-house shrink. An in-house psychologist is not unheard of on Wall Street. Most famously, billionaire Steve Cohen had one at SAC Capital before he was forced to turn it into a family office.”

Westport is used to TV star turns. Rod Serling’s classic “Twilight Zone” episode “Last Stop: Willoughby” was set here. The Ricardos and Mertzes moved from New York, in “I Love Lucy”‘s last season. Elizabeth Montgomery and her “Bewitched” family lived at “1164 Morning Glory Circle” in Westport.

But those were so 20th century. It’s now 2016. Today, Westport is all about hedge funds.

In more ways than one, it’s showtime!

(Hat tip: Allan Siegert)