Showtime’s “Billions’” depiction of the hedge fund world isn’t exactly cinema verité. But many of its characters are, with varying degrees of looseness, based on real people: Chief villain Bobby Axelrod is pretty transparently based primarily on Steve Cohen, with bits of Steve Schwarman, Dan Loeb and Howard Lutnick sprinkled in, and those in his orbit seem to have their SAC Capital equivalents, including an ex-wife that seems a combination of both Cohen’s current and former spouses, and a Matthew Martoma who actually cooperates with the authorities. And the lead authority, Chuck Rhoades, is rather obviously a Preet Bharara stand-in, with a bit of Eliot Spitzer thrown in for good measure.
But the sincerest form of flattery doesn’t end with those ripped from the headlines. Hedge fund performance coach Denise Shull is convinced that she’s the inspiration for Wendy Rhoades, Chuck’s wife and Axe Capital’s performance coach—and she doesn’t consider it flattering at all, going so far to sue the show for copyright infringement, the copyright in question being herself. That went nowhere, and now Shull says Andrew Ross Sorkin & co. are rubbing her face in it by dressing Rhoades in her wardrobe.
“It’s a little hard to argue there’s no likelihood of confusion when they’re raiding my closet,” Shull told The Post of the distinctive navy blue pencil dress with an asymmetrical neckline that she wore during two video-recorded interviews last year…. Shull and her legal team think the folks behind “Billions” — including executive producers Andrew Ross Sorkin, Brian Koppelman and David Levien — may have dressed the women alike after the case was tossed in October….
“I’m actually surprised they would pull these stunts,” Shull said. “Maybe Koppelman wants to troll me — but it seems more like playing chicken with the court.”
Of course, it’s not those clothes Shull is really pissed about.
In January, they filed an amended complaint against the “Billions” team citing multiple instances in which Shull was contacted by people, including clients, congratulating her on the success of the series and Wendy Rhoades — or questioning if she, too, is a dominatrix.
“If I have been asked if I am a dominatrix once, I’ve been asked that 100 times,” Shull said after the case was tossed last year. “Once their show began airing, I could not escape comments from my clients, followers and audiences mentioning the similarity between Wendy and me.”