Jordan Belfort, the self-proclaimed Wolf of Wall Street from which Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese were inspired, is shopping around a reality show. And not just any run-of-the-mill one, but a so-called uplifting one about helping people who’ve hit rock bottom get back on their feet. Because of course he is.
The ego-tripping super-swindler, with his audacious lifestyle of hard partying, drugs, and general greed, is just the sort of person Electus CEO Chris Grant — the production studio behind series like VH1’s Mob Wives, natch — calls “TV gold.” Which is no surprise considering the state of reality television: audacious personalities are sort of their bread and butter.
Of course not everyone is happy about it. Celebrating bad behavior, while a popular reality television outlook, is not always ingested so favorably by the masses. The movie-going public made this clear in the weekend box office, where the Scorsese film debuted in fifth place, making only $18.5 million dollars on Christmas’ long weekend, placing it behind The Hobbit, Frozen, Anchorman 2, and American Hustle.
Add to that the scathing takedown of Belfort written by the daughter of a Belfort-taken-down scammer (he worked as an informant for the government as part of a deal), Christina McDowell in LA Weekly the day after Christmas, and the picture becomes ever clearer. Turns out that people are starting to grow tired of the megalomaniac defrauding actions taken by those in control of the country’s wealth.
“Your film is a reckless attempt at continuing to pretend that these sorts of schemes are entertaining, even as the country is reeling from yet another round of Wall Street scandals. We want to get lost in what? These phony financiers' fun sexcapades and coke binges? Come on, we know the truth. This kind of behavior brought America to its knees. And yet you're glorifying it,” explained McDowell in her eviscerating open letter.
Still, Belfort — who is now a motivational speaker based in Manhattan Beach, California — served only 28 months in jail for his crimes against investors, and hopes to give others the redemption song they so crave by tapping into those energetic and enthusiastic selling skills of his. Explained Grant of his opinion on Belfort: “I knew without even seeing a picture of him that he could be a talent both behind and in front of the camera.” Wonder what it was that sold him.
Whether or not the viewing public will ingest this new iteration of Belfort so easily is yet to be seen, but McDowell predicted this sort of scenario might come to pass. Namely, that Belfort’s notoriety and financial gain would expand. “… Behind all of it was really just insidious soul-sucking shame masked by addiction, which we love to call ambition, which is really just greed. Greed and the desire for fame (exactly what you've successfully given self-appointed motivational speaker/financial guru Jordan Belfort, whose business opportunities will surely multiply thanks to this film).” But before you get too excited or mad about the series’ potential run, take heed: ambition and greed don’t always guarantee a network pick-up.