Profit Promotional Poster
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8|
|Executive producer(s)||Jo Swerling, Jr
Stephen J. Cannell
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Greenwalt/McNamara Productions
Stephen J. Cannell Productions
|Distributor||New World Television|
|Original run||April 8, 1996– April 29, 1996|
Profit is an American television series that originally aired on the Fox Broadcasting Company in 1996 on Monday Night at 9:00 PM EST. The series was created by David Greenwalt and John McNamara, and stars Adrian Pasdar as the eponymous character Jim Profit. In February 2008, episodes began airing on Chiller in the USA. In October 2010, episodes began airing on CBS Action in Europe.
Considered by many to be ahead of its time, the show is a precursor to more recent edgy television shows that include The Sopranos, Nip/Tuck, Dexter, Breaking Bad, and The Shield. Subversive themes stemming from the amoral actions of the central character made the show uncomfortable and unfamiliar viewing for mainstream audiences and Fox network affiliates, which ultimately led to the demise of the series. TV Guide ranked it #4 on their 2013 list of 60 shows that were "Canceled Too Soon", calling Profit "shockingly memorable".
Jim Profit is a newly promoted employee following the heart attack death of the former VP of Acquisitions at Gracen & Gracen (G&G), a multinational corporation that is less than ethical with some of its business practices. That does not worry Profit, who is not above blackmail, bribery, extortion, or even murder to get ahead in the company. Jim Profit would routinely speak directly to the audience with such quotes as: "The line most people say they won't cross - it's usually something they've already done when they thought no one was watching."
- Jim Profit (Adrian Pasdar) – born James Stakowski, he was raised in a cardboard G&G shipping box with the television on at all hours by an abusive father in Tulsa, Oklahoma, until he set his father on fire and ran away as a teenager. The experience left him with a complete hatred of TV and a desire to insinuate himself into the G&G family by any means necessary. Worked in Auditing before ascending to junior-vice president of Acquisitions. He intends to climb the corporate ladder at G&G by secretly engineering the ruin of those who stand in his way and/or refuse to assist him.
- Joanne Meltzer (Lisa Zane) – the obsessive chief of security for G&G. Had an affair with Jack Walters after his wife had (temporarily) run off with a lover. Remains loyal to Jack Walters, and admires him as a person. Jack's downfall (engineered by Profit) is the main thing motivating her to stop Profit. She is constantly trying to figure out Profit's motives and master plan, but has her own issues.
- Charles Henry "Chaz" Gracen (Keith Szarabajka) – the no-nonsense, paranoid, short-tempered chief executive of G&G. Is known to take a different mistress each year. Loves money above all else. Occasionally displays a dark sense of humor.
- Pete Gracen (Jack Gwaltney) – Chaz's younger brother, and the Senior Vice-President of Acquisitions. Long-standing alcoholic, he's also impotent, and seemingly incompetent.
- Nora Gracen (Allison Hossack) – Pete's insecure, lonely, yet trusting wife. She initially was seduced by Profit, then obsessed over him when he insisted on "being just friends". Regards Profit as a close friend and kindred spirit.
- Gail Koner (Lisa Darr) – Profit's resourceful secretary (who was originally Jack Walters' secretary), and primary henchperson. Initially Profit blackmailed her into assisting him in his schemes. However she feels increasingly loyal (and/or obligated) to Profit, since he saved her job, covered up her petty embezzlement, and pays 100% of her sick mother's nursing home bills. She also seems to be one of the few characters he shows any care for. In the episodes "Cupid" and "Chinese Box" he takes pride in her becoming more and more deceitful and is one of the few people he lets know about his abusive childhood. He at the very least feigns caring in her mother's well being, and says in "Chinese Box" that he is grooming/paving a way for her to become an executive at G&G.
- Bobbi Stakowski (Lisa Blount) – Profit's stepmother and former lover. Heroin addict, alcoholic, and former prostitute. She repeatedly tries to blackmail Profit (with evidence of his patricide and other crimes) into financing a luxurious lifestyle for her.
- Jeffrey Sykes (Sherman Augustus) – a corporate lawyer and the newest member of the G&G team. Sykes takes a more antagonistic approach to Profit.
Recurring and guests
- Jack Walters (Scott Paulin) – the former President of Acquisitions at G&G.
- Elizabeth Gracen Walters (Jennifer Hetrick) – Jack's wife, and cousin to Chaz and Pete Gracen.
- Constance Gracen (Teryl Rothery) – Chaz's estranged wife.
- Dr. Jeremy Batewell (John Hawkes)
- Kelly Hunt/Carol McKenna (Jessica Tuck)
|#||Episode||First US Airdate & Network||Writer(s)|
|1||"Pilot" (parts 1 & 2)||April 8, 1996 / Fox||John McNamara & David Greenwalt|
|Jim Profit joins the Gracen and Gracen executive team just as a public scandal erupts from an unethical baby food decision—sparked by a press leak that Profit orchestrated.|
|2||"Hero"||April 15, 1996 / Fox||David Greenwalt|
|Joanne Meltzer and Jack Walters search into Profit's past, while Profit sets up a key plan to dislodge Jack Walters from his senior position at G&G and clear the way for his own promotion.|
|3||"Sykes"||April 22, 1996 / Fox||David Greenwalt|
|Lawyer Jeffrey Sykes is hired by G&G, but his agenda has more to do with G&G and Profit's deal with a local mobster than actually representing the interests of G&G.|
|4||"Healing"||April 29, 1996 / Fox||John McNamara|
|Joanne and Profit's rivalry comes to a head when Chaz announces that they will both take a lie detector test. Profit tries to unnerve Joanne by blackmailing her psychiatrist.|
|5||"Cupid"||December 6, 2002 / Trio||John Shirley|
|G&G wants to acquire a company jointly owned by a separated couple, so Profit is charged with getting them back together even though the husband is acting rather disingenuously. Bobbi sets her sights on Chaz.|
|6||"Chinese Box"||December 7, 2002 / Trio||W. K. Scott Meyer|
|In order to avoid an imminent FBI investigation, Profit must sever G&G's relationship with a recently-acquired Chinese company by obtaining a codebreaker chip from Dr. Jeremy Batewell, recently fired from G&G for sexual harassment.|
|7||"Security"||December 8, 2002 / Trio||John McNamara|
|Profit is having an affair with the newest G&G security team addition, Kelly Hunt. However Ms. Hunt isn't who she appears to be and is a muckraking reporter looking for dirt on G&G.|
|8||"Forgiveness"||December 9, 2002 / Trio||David Greenwalt|
|Profit's manipulations come to a head: a secret from Nora's past may hold the key to derailing a hostile takeover of G&G. Joanne and Sykes come closer to finding out who the "real" Jim Profit was. Bobbi faces a near-death experience that makes her realize what she really wants.|
In Germany the 2-hour pilot episode was originally screened on 25 February 1997 via Sat.1; after a viewer poll affirmed strong interest in seeing the remainder of the series it was aired in July 1998 under the title Jim Profit - Ein Mann geht über Leichen (A Man Walks over Dead Bodies).
The critical response to Profit at the time of its debut was positive. Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times called Profit "...rip-roaring, sinus-clearing, bold and wonderful." Tom Gliatto of People magazine said of Profit: "Refreshingly cruel, Fox's Profit is the most exciting new show I've seen this year." John J. O'Conner from The New York Times called Profit "one of the most intriguing shows to come along since Twin Peaks..." Joyce Millman of salon.com stated: "Profit gains heft...from its nervy satiric vision of corporate capitalist culture." Eric Mink from The New York Daily News stated "Jim Profit may well be the most unremittingly evil character ever to serve as the protagonist and principal voice of a network TV series. Next to Profit, Dallas' J.R. Ewing is as menacing as Babe the Pig." Entertainment Weekly included Profit in its "Ten Best TV Shows for 1996" list at position #8.
Controversy and cancellation
Despite numerous positive critical reviews and intense industry buzz, Profit was canceled after only 5 of the 9 produced hours were broadcast on Fox in the USA. Low Nielsen ratings were cited as the official cause; Profit ranked 138th of 160 shows for 1996 and suffered from viewer tune-out during the airing of the 2-hour pilot episode. Other factors that may have hastened the demise of Profit include:
- Viewers were reported to have flooded their local Fox network affiliates with phone calls objecting to the amoral actions of the lead character Jim Profit and referring to him as "Satan in a Suit"; these opinions were expressed most vociferously by viewers located in the Bible Belt area of the USA. Some Fox network affiliates even threatened to preempt Profit in their local markets and replace it with alternative programming.
- Members of the business community were outraged that Profit portrayed them so poorly. Shaifali Puri of Fortune said: "Just in case there's anyone left who isn't convinced corporate America is a den of naked ambition and bald turpitude, comes now (the TV show) Profit." It was rumored that even the creator of the Fox network Rupert Murdoch objected to the edgy portrayal of corporate America in Profit, although Adrian Pasdar was quoted as saying that Profit was Murdoch's favorite TV show.
- Airings of Profit consistently lost almost all of the lead-in audience from Melrose Place which was scheduled in the timeslot immediately preceding Profit. This reportedly did not sit well with Melrose Place's executive producer Aaron Spelling, especially after glowing Time and Entertainment Weekly reviews of Profit while previous reviews from these magazines were highly critical of Melrose Place. Adrian Pasdar was approached by Spelling for the role of Jake Hanson on Melrose Place in 1992, but Pasdar refused to even meet with Spelling who was widely considered one of the most powerful and influential television producers of the 1990s.
Profit co-creator David Greenwalt hypothesized that "What might have turned off viewers to Profit wasn't just that it was so different [from other TV shows of the time] but that it was such an affront to it."  The cancellation of Profit was lamented by the organization Viewers for Quality Television; VQT founder Dorothy Swanson stated: "It certainly was not a mainstream show. It wasn't for everyone. There were parts of it I'm sure mainstream viewers found very disturbing and unappealing. But for people who like interesting television, it was very well written. It was spellbinding. You had to know what made this guy (Jim Profit) tick." 
- Adrian Pasdar was nominated for a 1996 Petcabus Award in the category "Best Actor in a Drama Series" for his role as Jim Profit.
- Profit was nominated for a 1996 Artios Award in category "Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Pilot".
Anchor Bay Entertainment released the complete series on DVD in Region 1 on August 9, 2005. The three-disc set contains the two-hour pilot and seven episodes (the final four of which did not air during the original run on Fox). Interviews with Stephen J. Cannell, David Greenwalt, John McNamara, Adrian Pasdar, Lisa Blount, and Lisa Zane are presented in a 67-minute featurette called Greed Kills about the making of Profit. Audio commentary with Adrian Pasdar and series creators David Greenwalt and John McNamara is provided for the 2-hour pilot and the episodes "Healing", "Chinese Box", and "Forgiveness". As of 2010, this release has been discontinued and is out of print.
Free Dolphin Entertainment released the complete series on DVD in Region 2 on October 20, 2005. The three-disc set contains the two-hour pilot and seven episodes (the final four of which did not air during the original run on Fox), along with the option of French subtitles (with the original English voice audio) or French-dubbed voice audio for all episodes. A 23-minute featurette produced in 1999 by French TV station Jimmy titled "Profit Special" covering the impact and enormous popularity of Profit in France was included in this release along with the Greed Kills featurette from the Region 1 release. Seven minutes of Fox promotional spots for Profit were provided as well, including a unique 30-second trailer showing Jim Profit crushing a spider on a park bench and calling it an "amateur".
Ostalgica released the complete series on DVD in Region 2 on April 24, 2012 under the title Jim Profit - Ein Mann geht über Leichen (A Man Walks over Dead Bodies). The three-disc set contains the two-hour pilot and seven episodes (the final four of which did not air during the original run on Fox), along with the option of the original English or German-dubbed voice audio for all episodes.
The content of the episodes is identical on all releases of the DVD with the exception of the opening voiceover by Jim Profit in the pilot episode:
- Region 1 Voiceover: Wayne Gresham is dead. A former VP at Gracen and Gracen incorporated, he was overworked, overweight, and well now, just plain "over". This is Wayne's boss, Jack Walters. He's the president of acquisitions, a smart decent man. As well respected as anyone at G&G. Gail Koner, Jack's secretary. Is that grief in her eyes or is she hiding something? Let's find out.
- Region 2 Voiceover: Wayne Gresham is dead. He was 47 years old. A junior vice president of acquisitions at Gracen and Gracen incorporated where I happen to work. This is Wayne's boss, Jack Walters. He's the president of acquisitions, a smart decent man. As well respected as anyone at Gracen and Gracen. Gail Koner, Jack's executive secretary, a loyal employee of 3 years and very devoted to her boss.
Profit was produced by Greenwalt/McNamara Productions and Stephen J. Cannell Productions in association with New World Television, and was the final series to come from Cannell's company (as well as one of the few for which he did not write any scripts).
The exterior shots outside the Gracen & Gracen twin towers were filmed on the plaza in front of the Sheraton Wall Centre Hotel in Vancouver. For production, a "Gracen & Gracen Wall Center" placard was positioned over the covered entrance in front of one building and two G&G logo monuments were placed in the front and center of the plaza. Another part of the same hotel complex now includes the well-known One Wall Centre building that had not yet been constructed when Profit was shot in early 1996.
According to the Region 1 DVD liner notes, the interior G&G office shots for the two-hour pilot episode were taken at the real working offices of B.C. Gas and that of a prestigious law firm in downtown Vancouver. Subsequent episodes were shot in studio sets modeled after these offices. The scene outside a hospital with Joanne Meltzer and Profit in the episode "Healing" was shot in front of St. Paul's Hospital located just across Burrard Street from the Sheraton Wall Centre. The exterior of Profit's apartment building featuring columnar bay windows up and down the entire front of the building is a location called Eugenia Place in Vancouver's West End; the structure is notable for the presence of a 35-foot Pin oak tree growing on the building's roof, located 180 feet above street level.
Profit's exploration of Gracen & Gracen's computer network was done through a 3D-image rendering interface, which represents G&G's corporate data as a building with a series of offices. This was implemented using the Virtual Realilty Modeling Language which was believed to be the way that future websites would be built in 1996. In the years leading up to the production of Profit numerous films such as The Lawnmower Man, Virtuosity, and especially the corporate thriller Disclosure featured a Virtual Reality interface which inspired its use in Profit.
What would have happened
David Greenwalt & John McNamara gave details of plotlines from the never-produced second season in the audio commentaries on the Region 1 DVD.
- Joanne Meltzer dies early in the first episode of the second season while in Ireland looking into Profit's background. The phone booth from which she is calling Sykes is set to explode. There is a bomb planted there by the Irish Republican Army. It was to be revealed later that this was done at the behest of Profit.
- Jim has stolen the identity of a "real" Jim Profit. The "real" Jim Profit is in a coma after he was drowned by the protagonist Jim Profit. Later on, the protagonist would return to finish killing his alias.
- Charles "Chaz" Gracen has a heart attack while running on his treadmill due to a mild poison Profit slips into Chaz's water bottle. Profit eventually convinces Chaz that his father (who is the Chairman of G&G's Board of Directors) is trying to kill him.
- Profit engineers the death of Chaz and Pete Gracen's father to help the two brothers reconcile their differences, eliminate a troublemaker on G&G's Board of Directors, and help tighten Profit's control over G&G.
- Another storyline involved Profit getting a current Senator drunk to the point of blackout, staging a car accident, and convincing the Senator that he had killed someone. These events probably led into a related storyline where Pete Gracen becomes a Senator himself.
- Pete and Nora Gracen would have divorced.
Also of note is the fact, reported in 2001, that David Greenwalt, who later went on to produce the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off series Angel, once entertained the idea of having Adrian Pasdar reprise his role as Jim Profit in said series. The main villains in Angel were a law firm called Wolfram & Hart, and Profit would have joined them. Conflicting working schedules with Pasdar (then the lead on NBC's Mysterious Ways), and the predictable difficulties in securing the rights to use the character prevented this from happening before Angel ended on its fifth season in 2004.
- According to the Greed Kills featurette on the 2005 DVD releases, McNamara and Greenwalt came up with the concept for Profit while watching Sir Ian McKellen's production of Richard III set in the 1930s.
- In the audio commentary of the 2005 Region 1 DVD, McNamara and Greenwalt indicated that Fox executives requested that the character of Bobbi Stakowski be revised from Profit's biological mother to the slightly less provocative role as Profit's stepmother.
- According to the Greed Kills featurette on the 2005 DVD releases, Profit's traumatic upbringing was based on the childhood of a real-life serial killer who had been similarly raised in a box with only a television present as described in the nonfiction novel Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI by Robert K. Ressler & Tom Shachtman. The relevant passage is located in Chapter 4 titled Childhoods of Violence: "One woman propped her infant son in a cardboard box in front of the television set, and left for work; later, she'd put him in a playpen, toss in some food, and let the TV set be the baby-sitter until she came home again." 
- Stephen J. Cannell, executive producer of Profit, admitted the name "Profit" is a bit of homage to the crazed Mel Profitt character portrayed by Kevin Spacey on the Wiseguy series which Cannell also produced.
- Stephen J. Cannell reportedly was "shopping" a revival of Profit around July 1996, and said that the cable network Showtime had "shown some interest". A Showtime original series with some similarity to Profit called Dexter premiered 10 years later in 2006; since then, Dexter has received numerous awards and widespread critical acclaim. Lisa Darr, who portrayed Jim Profit's assistant Gail Koner, had a small role as a defense attorney in the fourth season premiere episode called "Living the Dream". In the episode she is cross-examining Dexter Morgan and completely destroys Dexter's credibility on the stand. Sherman Augustus, who portrayed Jim Profit's rival Jeffrey Sykes, also had a small role as hitman Benjamin Caffrey in the Dexter season 7 episode Helter Skelter.
- The feature film Cement directed by Adrian Pasdar featured a scene where the character Fergus watches part of the pilot episode of Profit on a TV. Fergus says "It's 8:00, time for Profit"; 8:00pm was the original timeslot for Profit in the Central/Mountain timezone when it first aired on Fox. The scene also includes numerous shots of a fish tank similar to the one located in Profit's apartment.
- "Chiller scares up a February and brings Profit and Millenium back from the dead". The Futon Critic. January 28, 2008
- "Profit on CBS Action" from cbsaction.co.uk
- "25 Greatest Cult TV Shows Ever" #14:'Profit'. Entertainment Weekly. September 29, 2009
- Roush, Matt (June 3, 2013). "Canceled Too Soon". TV Guide. pp. 20 and 21
- Germany Profit Airdates from kabeleins.de
- Rosenberg, Howard. "Will Viewers Cozy Up to Naked Ambition in Sinfully Rich Profit?", Los Angeles Times, April 8, 1996. Accessed July 30, 2013.
- Gliatto, Tom. Picks & Pans: Main Tube, People, April 8, 1996. Accessed July 30, 2013.
- Meisler, Andy. The Man Behind Nice Jim Rockford Now Gives the World Evil Jim Profit, The New York Times, April 21, 1996. Accessed July 30, 2013.
- "Monster in a Box" from salon.com
- Mink, Eric. New Series 'Profits' From Its Ruthless Hero, New York Daily News, April 8, 1996. Accessed July 30, 2013.
- Tucker, Ken. TV, Entertainment Weekly, December 27, 1996. Accessed July 30, 2013.
- Graham, Renee. "Loss of 'Profit' Deals a Blow to TV", Deseret News, June 19, 1996. Accessed July 30, 2013.
- "Producer Tries to Relaunch Risky for-'Profit' Enterprise" from thefreelibrary.com
- Endrst, James. "A Season Finale After a Nine-Year Wait", The New York Times, August 13, 2005. Accessed July 30, 2013.
- "3:16 'Profit' Musings"
- "Producer Tries to Relaunch Risky for-'Profit' Enterprise" from thefreelibrary.com
- Puri, Shaifali. "Profit Claws His Way up Fox's Slippery Ladder, CNN, May 13, 1996. July 30, 2013.
- "Profit: Screwed by the Network" from tvtropes.org
- "Television: Serial Power Monger" from time.com
- Tucker, Ken. Fox's new, wickedly fun dramas, Entertainment Weekly, April 5, 1996. Accessed July 30, 2013.
- "Television: Stop the Inanity!" from time.com
- Adrian Pasdar biography from yahoo.com
- "10 Cult TV Hits That Originally Flopped" from howstuffworks.com
- "Loss of 'Profit' Deals a Blow to TV" from deseretnews.com
- 1996 Artios Award Winner & Nominations from imdb.com
- Profit: The Complete Series from ew.com
- Profit Region 2 French DVD Official Site from freedolphin.fr
- Profit Region 2 German DVD Official Site from ostalgica.de
- Kurtz, Frank. Profit on Angel?, Mania, October 12, 2001. Accessed July 30, 2013.
- "Quote from Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI" from books.google.com
- Wiseguy page from aintitcool.com
- "Producer Tries to Relaunch Risky for-'Profit' Enterprise" from thefreelibrary.com
- Dexter "Living The Dream" Episode Cast from imdb.com
- Dexter "Helter Skelter" Episode Cast from imdb.com
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Profit (TV series)|
- Profit at the Internet Movie Database
- Profit at TV.com
- So Many Traps to Set: Subversions and Subversiveness in Profit - graat.fr
- Unofficial Gracen and Gracen home page