HBO's The Money starring Brendan Gleeson could haven been the original Succession
If anyone could emulate Brian Cox, it's Brendan Gleeson.
With the end of Succession now less than a week away, it's clear to see how much of a cultural influence the show has had over its four season run.
However, there is always something that comes before and it's easy to see that the success of movies like The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short and Showtime series Billions made big money sexy on screen.
Naturally, HBO wanted a piece of the pie and had been looking into doing something centred around finance for a few years before the idea of Succession was floated.
In fact, a pilot episode for a show called The Money was even shot in 2014 for the American network behemoth and the plot sounds eerily familiar to the show we know and love today.
The logline for The Money is as follows: "An American mogul and patriarch wields power and influence to expand his media empire and control his family."
Hmm, where have we heard that before?
What's even more interesting about the show, which never saw the light of day, is the cast. The patriarch at at the centre of it all was none other than our own Brendan Gleeson. That's right, we could be seeing the Dubliner telling everyone to "f*ck off" in every episode.
Alongside him were two Irish stars in The Boys' Dominique McElligott and Oscar nominee Ruth Negga. Nathan Lane was also cast in the pilot.
The series was brought into the world by crime drama legend and Deadwood creator David Milch, who went on to write for season three of True Detective. With all those big names behind it, it seems crazy in hindsight to pass on the pilot. But, for some reason or another, HBO turned it down and unfortunately it seems like that one episode will be buried forever.
The inspirations behind Succession
The eventual creator of Succession, Jesse Armstrong said in a 2018 interview right before the first season aired, that he had been circling the idea of a media tycoon-centred project for years, even writing the script for a movie about Rupert Murdoch over a decade ago.
The plot for the movie which was never picked up took place over the course of a single day, the Australian-born mogul’s 78th birthday and involved Murdoch asking his four oldest children to sign off on changes to their family trust. Again, this is all sounding very familiar.
It all circles back to our interest in the 1% and what goes on behind the closed doors of skyscraper offices and penthouses. There's a mystique to it all, even if it does disgust us to an extent, we can't seem to look away.
However, with the filthy rich, it's an ever changing landscape and it seems like timing is everything. Just like Murdoch before it, maybe The Money just came a bit too soon for its own good.
Frank Rich, an executive producer on Succession who was also attached to the Brendan Gleeson starrer, said just as much in an interview with the New York Times in 2018.
"The Money pilot was made [nine] years ago and was set in the New York newspaper wars, pre-digital. Given all that’s happened in the media world both in terms of content and business since, it’s a different universe from that of the Roys’ Waystar Royco in Succession."
With Succession being as globally successful as it is now, it's hard to imagine anyone other than the incredible Brian Cox as a patriarchal media mogul on a hit HBO show. But, if the timing had worked out a little differently, we might have been seeing Brendan Gleeson taking his spot. And he would have done a damn fine job, too.
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