The guys on AMC's 'Loaded' have to figure out how to deal with instant fame and money. The guys on AMC's 'Loaded' have to figure out how to deal with instant fame and money. The guys on AMC's 'Loaded' have to figure out how to deal with instant fame and money. (Photo: AMC)

Young tech tycoons focus of new AMC comedy 'Loaded'

From the network that brought you 'Mad Men,' 'The Walking Dead,' and 'Breaking Bad' comes a show that merges 'Silicon Valley' with 'Entourage.'

It’s every tech geek’s fantasy: create an app and sell your company to a conglomerate for millions, drive a Ferrari, bathe in champagne, and take sweet revenge on the people who didn’t believe in you.

The four guys in “Loaded,” premiering tonight on AMC, sell their cat-game mobile app for $300 million, and think they’re set for life. But then reality sinks in when they’re sued for copyright infringement, have to deal with a demanding, slightly crazy new boss, and discover the money won’t last as long as they thought.

Starring Jim Howick, Samuel Anderson, Jonny Sweet, Nick Helm and Mary McCormack, “Loaded” is based on a popular Israeli show, which itself was inspired by a true story.

Muli Segev, the co-creator of that Keshet Broadcasting series and an executive producer on “Loaded,” explained the back story. “On June 8, 1998, three young Israeli entrepreneurs sold their instant messaging software, ICQ to AOL for $400 million, making history at the start of Israel’s tech boom. Their exit strategy became the ultimate goal and dream for thousands of young Israelis over the following decades."

For Segev and co-creator, Asaf Harel, the entrepreneurs' story meant more. "We're the same age as them and knew them personally," Segev told From The Grapevine. "We watched, as overnight, they transformed from three struggling startup entrepreneurs to multimillionaires, and witnessed how their lives changed as a result – each in line with their individual character. We instantly thought there was a great story here, but it took us some time to get around to it.”

Indeed, the series, with a title that translates roughly to “Settled For Life,” didn’t premiere until 2007 in Israel. It aired there for two seasons to great success, winning three awards from the Israeli Academy for Film and Television.

“The dream of getting so rich at such a young age is global. Also, high tech icons like Mark Zuckerberg have become a new type of hero and role model for kids around the world, so this show deals with the hottest industry of our time,” said Segev. “It captured the zeitgeist and became iconic for this generation.”

The new U.S. version is called “Loaded,” and there are differences between the two series. “Loaded” combines the narratives of the original’s first and second seasons to explore both dealing with newfound wealth and trying to make lightning strike twice with a new idea. Also, “Loaded” introduces the new American boss Casey (McCormack). “It makes for very good conflict,” Segev told us.

The series strikes a seamless balance between comedy and drama, which Segev said is tricky to do. “Assaf and I are primarily comedy writers, so it was easier than the other way around. But from our experience, for a show to be funny, it has to be based on a good dramatic conflict and needs to mean something emotionally.”

Segev, whose main job for Keshet is running a popular variety program in the vein of “Saturday Night Live,” has recently produced two new shows: “Plan B,” about a rock star who becomes a father unexpectedly, and “Clues,” about two women – a mistress and wife to the same man – who must work together to run his detective agency when he goes missing.

Whether those will ever reach American TV remains to be seen, but Segev thinks it’s no accident that many Israeli series (“Homeland,” “In Treatment,” etc.) have been successfully exported.

“There are simply a lot of great stories and storytellers in Israel,” explained Segev. “We are a cultural melting pot with so many immigrants living side by side that it’s no wonder the country has become a great testing ground for concepts that are likely to have international appeal, not only in the U.S. but all over the world. Companies like Keshet International thrive on bringing Israeli content to the world and it’s great to be part of that pipeline. The fact that we are the labeled as ‘the startup nation’ is testament not only to our creativity, but also our willingness to try and fail, and try again. Israelis don’t like to play it safe, and that can be unusual in these times.”

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