TV cameos are one of the traditional stations of the cross on the road to career redemption. Remember Paula Deen’s taped cameo on Fox’s MasterChef in the fall? Now it’s Anthony Weiner‘s turn, in Friday’s season finale of Amazon’s …
‘Alpha House’ Creator Garry Trudeau On Creating “HBO-Quality” TV On Amazon; ‘Betas’ Panel Stresses Character Over Cliche
Amazon Studios tonight introduced its first two original series, comedies Alpha House and Betas, during a TV Academy event at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre. And the recurring theme was creating quality TV.
Alpha House, about four Republican U.S. senators who share a residence in D.C., is created, written and exec produced by Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury and Tanner ’88 fame. (Cast member Clark Johnson called him “the Aaron Sorkin of the Internet,” adding, “I don’t change a comma.”) Trudeau began by saying he had “several reservations initially” about working with Amazon because “I had not seen great television produced on the web, and I did not see how they were going to be able to kick it up to another level with the kind of resources that had been provided to creators on YouTube and other venues. But as it turned out, that wasn’t the plan — the plan was to provide the kind of support you need to make high-end television. … (The) goal, I believe, was to create HBO-quality television right out of the gate.”
He said he’d read a story about four real congressmen who live together and one said a lot of people mentioned that it would make a great TV series but the problem was “who’s gonna watch a show about four middle-age guys with no sex and violence? So the way we got around that is we added sex and violence.”
Comedies Alpha House and Betas, coincidentally named after the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, will debut on Amazon on November 15 and November 22, respectively. The first three of each series’ 11 episodes will be available to all Amazon customers for free. After that, one episode of each show will become available weekly on Amazon’s subscription service Prime Instant Video. “We’re constantly experimenting and trying new things—and we’re eager to hear customers’ feedback on this model,” said Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios.
Amazon Studios this morning officially ordered its first original series, giving series pickups to comedy pilots Alpha House starring John Goodman and Betas, which received the call 10 days ago, and kids pilots Annebots, Creative Galaxy and Tumbleaf. The five series will air exclusively on Prime Instant Video later this year and in early 2014. The shows came out of Amazon’s inaugural slate of 14 pilots — eight comedies and six kids shows — that were made available online on April 19.
The series pickup decisions were based in part on feedback from viewers in the U.S. and the UK. “We are thrilled at the enthusiastic customer response to our first original pilots,” said Amazon Studios director Roy Price, indicating that the company will continue to make its pilots available to the public. “We built Amazon Studios so that customers could help decide which stories would make the very best movies and TV shows. It’s exciting to see the process in motion, doing exactly what we set out to do. The success of this first set of pilots has given us the push to try this approach with even more shows — this is just the beginning.”
2ND UPDATE, 11:45 AM: I hear Alpha House has gotten an official pickup, joining Betas. Alpha House follows four senators (John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy, Mark Consuelos) who live together in a rented house in Washington, DC. Zombieland and Browsers did not make the cut.
Related: Full Amazon Pilot Listings
UPDATE, 9 AM: Zombieland writer-producer Rhett Reese took to Twitter to blame the series’ pickup fail on Zombieland fans themselves: “I’ll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard Zombieland fans. You guys successfully hated it out of existence.”
UPDATE, THURSDAY PM: There will be no Zombieland TV series, at least not on Amazon. The streaming service has passed on the pilot, as well as Browsers, as it continues to narrow down the field.
Christine Lahti To Co-Star In CBS’ ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ Pilot, Clark Johnson In Amazon’s ‘Alpha House’
Christine Lahti will co-star opposite Brandon T. Jackson in the CBS drama pilot Beverly Hills Cop. The project, written by Shawn Ryan and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, is a continuation of the movie franchise and centers on Axel Foley’s police officer son Aaron (Jackson), who takes down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. Lahti will play Helen, the Captain of the Beverly Hills Police Department. Kevin Pollak, David Denman and Argo‘s Sheila Vand co-star. Lahti has kept a presence on CBS since her Emmy-winning starring turn on Chicago Hope. She has been recurring on Hawaii Five-0 and toplined the network’s 2011 pilot The Doctor.
EXCLUSIVE: Mark Consuelos has been tapped as a lead opposite John Goodman in Amazon Studios‘ comedy pilot Alpha House. Yara Martinez and Kobi Libii also have been cast in the pilot written by Garry Trudeau. Alpha House follows four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington DC. Consuelos will play one of them, Andy Guzman, a young, handsome, confident Senator with an excess of charm & swagger. An irresistible rogue. Goodman plays another Senator. Martinez will play Adriana De Portago, a beautiful Cuban-American billionaire heiress looking for a good time with new beau, Andy Guzman. Libii will play Aaron Stimson, a seasoned Capitol Hill vet on one of the Senators’ staffs. Consuelos, repped by CAA and Liebman Entertainment, recently recurred on FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum and NBC’s Guys With Kids. Martinez, repped by APA and D2 Management, has recurred on ABC Family’s The Lying Game, ABC’s Nashville and TNT’s Southland. Libii, repped by KSR&A and manager Ken Treusch, can be seen in the off-Broadway play Really Really.
EXCLUSIVE: John Goodman is set to star in Alpha House, one of Amazon Studios’ first six original comedy pilots. Written by Oscar nominee and Pulitzer-Prize winner Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury), Alpha House follows four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington DC. Goodman will play North Carolina Senator Gil John Biggs, a large man with large appetites. His cranky sense of entitlement comes from years of being revered as a successful basketball coach, but when the Duke basketball coach decides to run against him, he finds his Senate seat in jeopardy. Amazon has been going for a mix of big TV names and up-and-coming young talent for its comedy pilots. Frasier and Cheers alumna Bebe Neuwirth was recently cast in Browsers. Since a story about Democratic politicians Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, George Miller and Bill Delahunt sharing a rented house gained popularity several years ago, there have been several attempts to use the setup for a TV show. In 2010, ABC ordered a pilot for Greg Malins’ comedy Freshmen, executive produced by Arianna Huffington, which revolved around three newly-elected members of Congress who share a house together.