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January 1, 2001

Traders on the Tube: Has the tube successfully captured the life of traders? Behind the scenes of

By Sanford Wexler

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  • Traders on the Tube: Has the tube successfully captured the life of traders? Behind the scenes of
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The ritzy and backstabbing world of stock trading has finally come to the tube. The success of TNT's television show "Bull," and the recently cancelled "The Street" on the Fox Network, prove that tube watchers are as interested in traders as they are in cops patrolling Harlem in the hit show, "NYPD Blue."

With tens of millions of ordinary Americans heavily invested in the stock market, the only wonder is that it took television so long to tap the cultural veins of this socio-economic phenomenon.

Now producers are consulting Nasdaq and listed pros on how the markets operate. More shows may be launched, some TV industry observers say.

The Street, in fact, went out of its way to enlist the help of Wall Street pros. At stake was a lusty drama that mixed IPOs in with bedroom scenes and guys and gals who looked like models out of Vogue Magazine. And these beautiful people just happened to trade for Balmont Stevens.

The Street, though it collapsed because of poor ratings, won admirers in the trading community because of its authentic set design. That's thanks, in part, to the financial information provider Bloomberg.

Bloomberg installed about 75 Bloomberg terminals on the show's trading room at Chelsea Piers Studios in New York. That and other trading touches on the 5,000-square foot floor bowled some pros over.

Stephen Bookbinder, Bloomberg Tradebook's director of sales and marketing and a former trader at Bear Stearns, could not believe his eyes when he visited the set of The Street at the Chelsea Piers Studios in New York City.

"I wish we had a trading floor like this," he quipped, as he almost absent-mindedly picked up a telephone to place an order. The show's pilot episode was filmed at the New Jersey trading operations of Spear, Leeds & Kellogg.

Real Thing

Cast members from The Street visited the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and spent time hanging out with top traders. Many said they learned much from the real life pros.

Christian Campbell, 28, who played the freshly-minted, Wharton MBA grad and trader trainee - Tim Sherman - prepared for his challenging role by hanging out with traders at Spear, Leeds.

"I shadowed the traders for a couple of days," he said. "I watched all the screaming. The traders taught us the ins and outs of what they do."

Bloomberg's involvement came with a phone call from one of the show's producers, Jane Raab, to Bloomberg's advertising sales department. Her call was referred to Chris Taylor, a Bloomberg spokesperson.

"I went over to the Silvercup Studios in Queens to meet with Jane Raab," Taylor said. "I also met with the other producers and the show's set designers. I talked about the Bloomberg [terminal] and how traders use it."

The producers realized how important it was to have terminals on their mock trading floor. Raab next met with the founder and chief executive of Bloomberg, the former Salomon Brothers bond trader, Michael R. Bloomberg.

The show's set designers toured Bloomberg's newsroom and the Bloomberg Tradebook's trading floor.