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December 18, 2008

Chiklis developing Ponzi scheme TV series

Shield_713_0605 In the wake of Bernard Madoff scandal, former "The Shield" star Michael Chiklis is developing a new series at FX about a similar investment scheme.

The project, called "House of Cards," concerns a group committing an elaborate scam similar to the alleged Madoff fraud.

Chiklis has been developing the project since February after he and his wife became victims of a Ponzi scheme themselves.

"It really rocked our world," Chiklis said. "Not so much from a monetary standpoint -- it didn't significantly hurt us -- it was more the feeling of being betrayed and the ripple effect it caused."

The Madoff case has had a strong impact in Hollywood, with top names such as Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg among those rumored to have been swindled.

"Cards" will likely center on the leader of investment scheme, with Chiklis planning to executive produce, but not star. FX expects to attach a showrunner to the project shortly.

In a Ponzi scheme, a few early participants gain considerable wealth through the investment of later contributors rather than earned profits from a product or business. For Chicklis, the actor's monetary loss was compounded by his regret of convincing friends to invest too.

"That was the worst part of it," he said. "It's one thing when you lose your own money, but here you lose your friends money while your true-hearts-hope was to make them money."

At first the concept might seem a bit limiting for a series -- how many seasons can you stretch out the story of a scam? Chicklis countered that his case has been going on for five years and still isn't entirely resolved.

"There's quite a lot that goes on during the course of this thing," Chicklis said. "It destroys relationships and marriages, it's intense."


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