Attention, true crime fans. Get ready because there's a new thriller mini-series heading your way. On November 22, Hulu will premiere the eight-episode limited series Welcome to Chippendales. Based on a true story, the forthcoming series chronicles the humble beginnings of Indian immigrant Somen "Steve" Banerjee, who rose from a gas station manager to the founder of the male exotic dancing empire, Chippendales. Banerjee embarked on a mission to live out his dreams of becoming the next Hugh Hefner — and he did it. According to the New York Post, as many as 900 women would go to the Chippendales Upper East Side club throughout the 1980s.
When Chippendales first got off the ground, Banerjee hired Nick De Noia, an Emmy award-winning children's television producer, to elevate the show into larger-scale production. Once he made it big, Banerjee became relentless and would stop at nothing to maintain control of his multimillion-dollar franchise, including murder.
Comedian Kumail Nanjiani executive produces the show and stars alongside Nicola Peltz Beckham, Annaleigh Ashford, and Murray Bartlett. If you're wondering how the show's cast compares to its real-life counterparts, read ahead for everything we know about the Welcome to Chippendales cast versus the real people they're based on.
Kumail Nanjiani as Somen "Steve" Banerjee
Academy award-nominated actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani had no clue he was playing a villain when he signed on to star in the new Hulu series. According to The New York Times, despite auditioning for the show, reading the script, and filming scenes, Nanjiani realized his character's flaws after watching a rough cut of the show's final episodes. "For the first time, I was like, 'oh, he's a bad guy. He's wrong," he said.
Nanjiani also opened up about his thoughts on Banerjee's self-esteem and how it could have played a role in his decision to harm his staff. "He’s terrified of the inside of himself. And that makes him do all these awful things," Nanjiani said. "If he had just sat down and tried to see how he was feeling … a lot of guys, myself included, a lot of times don’t know what we’re feeling."
Somen "Steve" Banerjee
Chippendales was the ultimate hot spot for male exotic dancers in the 1980s. Banerjee first launched Chippendales at a Los Angeles bar in 1979, which resulted in popularity so big there would reportedly be lines around the block to enter. Banerjee hired Nick De Noia as a choreographer to help elevate the show's performance, but the duo began to feud over control of the empire.
According to ABC News, Banerjee signed a deal, recorded on the back of a napkin, that signed away fifty percent of Chippendales' touring profits to De Noia. After discovering De Noia's success on the road, Banerjee hired hitman Ray Colon to kill DeNoia. On April 7, 1987, Colon and Gilberto Riveria Lopez traveled from Los Angeles to the Chippendales office in New York City, and Rivera Lopez shot DeNoia.
The case remained unsolved until an informant contacted the FBI in 1991, informing them that Colon hired a hitman to murder employees at Adonis, a strip club in London founded by former Chippendales performers. Upon Colon's arrest, he revealed that Banerjee orchestrated the hit against De Noia as well as the attempt to harm the dancers at Adonis. In September 1993, Banerjee was arrested and pleaded guilty to racketeering and murder for hire. The day before Banerjee was to be sentenced for his crimes, the disgraced founder died by suicide.
Murray Bartlett as Nick De Noia
You may recognize Murray Bennett from the hit HBO Max series The White Lotus. He has taken on the role of Nick DeNoia in Welcome to Chippendales, where he had to learn strip-dance choreography. He opened up to Vulture about the steep learning curve. "I'm not a professional dancer. Maybe you haven't noticed that" Bartlett said. According to Vulture, Barlett "had to not only act as if he knew how to dance" but "also pretend to know how to teach dance."
For Bartlett, the most challenging part of landing the new role came when he had to teach a routine. "I had to do this scene where I’m teaching the dancers this routine. I have to do it towards them, so I’m mirroring the routine as they’re doing it, then flip around and do it the way they’re doing it. That kind of scrambled my brain, but I did it!"
Nick De Noia
Nick De Noia was a director and producer. Over the course of his career, he won five Emmy Awards, including two for the Unicorn Tales specials, IMDB reports. Banerjee hired De Noia to work as an original choreographer for the Chippendales dance troupe and a co-owner of the franchise. Issues over money began to surface between Banerjee and De Noia, and Banerjee hired a hitman to kill him on April 7, 1987. He was previously married to actress Jennifer O'Neil.
Annaleigh Ashford as Irene
Broadway star Annaleigh Ashford is bringing her talents to the small screen as Irene, the wife of Banerjee, in Welcome to Chippendales. During an interview with Hidden Remote, Ashford opened up about what it was like playing the role of a real-life character, for who there is so little information available. "I had no research to go from because there’s nothing about this woman. We have one picture of her, and that’s it," the Tony award-winning actress said. "So the only thing I had to work off were the given circumstances of the situation, the real-life events. And so it was really important to me to create a person who was really human and complicated and still lived in the world of the late 70s and 80s, which was a complicated time for women still. And I also wanted to make sure that the connection that she had with Kumail’s character, Steve, felt really authentic to the audience. Because if she loves him, then hopefully, everybody loves him. That was important. "
There are very few details available about the life of Irene Banerjee outside of the fact that she married the Chippendales founder and had two children with Banerjee, a son named Christian, and a daughter who remains out of the spotlight.
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