Gracen and Gracen Incorporated

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Psychopaths-a-Poppin':
The Curious Case of Patrick Bateman & Jim Profit

Introduction

I vaguely recall watching a little known show called Profit in the spring of 1996 on Fox.  The promotional spots and trailers looked intriguing: a well-dressed young businessman named Jim Profit scheming his way up the corporate ladder by any means necessary.  Even though the show was airing on the same night as Melrose Place and would probably just be some kind of trashy prime-time soap I decided to give it a try.  The 2-hour pilot completely blew me away; I had never seen anything even remotely like it on television before.  For the next three weeks I sat enthralled as the series continued, blithely unaware of the early fate that was to befall it.  When I tuned in for the fourth one-hour episode I was crestfallen to see a repeat of When Animals Attack aired instead; I turned to the Internet (Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.tv in those days) to figure out what had happened and sure enough the series had been cancelled.  The final screen images of the pilot episode continued to haunt me though as Profit slowly slipped into obscurity. 

By chance in 2007 I heard that Profit had been released on DVD including all the episodes aired and even four unaired episodes.  After ordering the DVD set from Anchor Bay I excitedly told a friend about the premise of Profit.  They blinked and said: "You mean like American Psycho?".  At that time I remembered an American Psycho film but had never seen it.  While waiting for the Profit DVD to be delivered we watched American Psycho and I was stunned at the number of similarities which became even more apparent when I finally got to see all the episodes of Profit on DVD.

Fast forward to September 10, 2013.  The FX network announces that a television series based on American Psycho is under development.  Apparently Patrick Bateman is now 50 years old and training a protege.  Instantly I envisioned Adrian Pasdar (who portrayed Jim Profit) cast as Patrick Bateman for the new series, as of 2013 Pasdar was age 48. 

Below the timeline of development for Profit and American Psycho (both the book and film) is explored and the similarities listed; they are definitely intertwined to some extent.  What do you think?  Send me a comment below and I'll post it!

 

Timeline

1989-1990: Bret Easton Ellis authors the book American Psycho.

March 1991: American Psycho is published by Vintage Books after Simon & Schuster refuses to publish American Psycho due to a firestorm of controversy concerning the book's graphic content.

September 1992: Television producers David Greenwalt and John McNamara begin development of a new corporate drama series with a psychopath as the central character after viewing a a modern-dress production of Shakespeare's Richard III starring Ian McKellen.  They recruit TV production veteran Stephen J. Cannell who provides his backing and support after becoming enamored with the concept of the series.

October 1992: David Greenwalt & John McNamara pitch the concept of Profit to CBS Television Studios and are told to "get the hell out" after offending a CBS executive with the content of the Profit pilot episode.

November 1992: David Greenwalt & John McNamara pitch the concept to Fox Studios who options the series and green-lights it for production.  Later that month an executive leadership regime change at Fox places the production of Profit in limbo.

Early 1993: The film rights to American Psycho are acquired.

December 1994: Another regime change occurs at Fox Studios and Profit is green-lit for production.  After an extensive casting search Adrian Pasdar is cast to play the central character Jim Profit.

Late 1995: Profit begins production: a 2-hour pilot and seven 1-hour episodes are ordered.

Early April 1996: An avalanche of critical acclaim for Profit begins to appear in the mainstream media after advanced screenings of the pilot episode.

April 8, 1996: The 2-hour pilot episode of Profit airs on Fox with 8 million initial viewers, preempting Melrose Place.  After only the first 30 minutes over 3 million viewers have tuned out.

April 29, 1996: The final aired episode of Profit is broadcast on Fox.  After dismal ratings Profit is cancelled by Fox with four unaired episodes still remaining.

May 5, 1996: A repeat of When Animals Attack airs in Profit's timeslot on Fox.

Mid-1996: Mary Harron is approached to direct a feature film adaptation of American Psycho.

July 1996: Stephen J. Cannell shops a revival of Profit to several studios.  The premium cable network Showtime expresses interest in Profit but does not option it.  A Showtime original series with some similarity to Profit called Dexter premieres 10 years later in 2006.

Mid-1997: Profit premieres in France and Germany, scoring high viewer ratings and renewed critical acclaim.

Late 1997: Mary Harron selects Christian Bale to portray Patrick Bateman.

Early 1998: The studio attempts to replace Christian Bale with Leonardo DiCaprio to portray Patrick Bateman.  Mary Harron briefly leaves the American Psycho film project.

January 10, 1999: The Sopranos premieres on HBO to great critical acclaim, featuring a psychopath as the central character.  The show is immensely successful and runs for six seasons.

April 14, 2000: The film American Psycho premieres in the USA to mixed reviews almost exactly 4 years to the day that Profit premiered.

June 18, 2002: A poorly-made sequel to the American Psycho film called American Psycho 2 is released.

Mid-2005: Profit is released on DVD in the USA by Anchor Bay and France by Free Dolphin Entertainment.

October 1, 2006: Dexter premieres on Showtime to great critical acclaim, featuring a psychopath as the central character.  The show is quite successful and runs for eight seasons, ending September 22, 2013.

Mid-2012: Profit is released on DVD in Germany by Ostalgica titled as Jim Profit - Ein Mann geht über Leichen (A Man Walks over Dead Bodies).
 
September 10, 2013: Cable network FX announces a television series based on American Psycho is under development



Similarities

  • Patrick Bateman's stated age in the film is 27, in the book he states "I'll be 28 in October".  Jim Profit's age is 28.
  • Both Patrick Bateman and Jim Profit attended Harvard for their undergraduate studies; Profit even wears a Harvard school ring.  Bateman attended Harvard Business School for graduate studies while Profit attended Wharton.
  • Bateman works for "Pierce & Pierce" while Jim Profit works for "Gracen & Gracen".  The company names would seem to imply that they were started by a family; in fact Gracen & Gracen's corporate motto is "The Family Company".
  • According to the film Bateman's father practically owns the company Pierce & Pierce; at Gracen & Gracen where Jim Profit works Chaz and Pete Gracen's father serves as Chairman Emeritus on the Board of Directors and owns the company.
  • Bateman and Profit both work in the Mergers & Acquisitions division of their respective companies.
  • Both Bateman and Profit have issues with their mother & family in general.  In the book Patrick Bateman's mother suffers from Alzheimer's in a nursing home.  Jim Profit tried to burn his father alive as a child and eventually murders him in a nursing home.  Profit's stepmother Bobbi repeatedly blackmails him.
  • Bateman's fiance Evelyn has a seedy friend named "Stash" dating her cousin in the American Psycho novel (he appears briefly in the film); in the Profit episode "Forgiveness" Profit's stepmother Bobbi has a seedy boyfriend named "Trash".
  • Both Bateman and Profit maintain stylish, impeccable apartments that hide who they really are; Bateman uses his to commit murders while Profit's has a secret room in which he sleeps naked in a cardboard shipping box.
  • Bateman loves TV/movies and watches ones that mirror (or maybe even teach him) what he is supposed to do (porno, Texas Chainsaw Massacre etc).  Jim Profit was raised in a shipping box with a hole cut out to watch TV which was his only human contact; TV is how Jim Profit learned about the world although as an adult he despises TV.
  • At the end of the film Bateman's secretary Jean gains insight into the real Patrick Bateman by seeing the gruesome doodles in his appointment book (this scene was not in the novel however).  Jim Profit's secretary Gail is involuntarily forced to act as Jim Profit's primary henchperson and is the only character (like Jean) who has any clue whatsoever about who Jim Profit really is. But only the viewing audience knows the "full story" behind both Patrick Bateman and Jim Profit.
  • While Patrick Bateman's voiceovers in the film are spoken generally to no one in particular, Jim Profit's voiceovers break the fourth wall and literally address the viewing audience with personal pronouns like "we".  In the novel Bateman also addresses the reader occasionally with statements like "What do you think?" and "We can expect new things from Whitney...".

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