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.”
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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. Read More »
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.
Related: Amazon Studios Begins Pilot Pickups; ‘Zombieland’ Writer Blames Pass On Fans
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.” Read More »
As it just did with Zombieland, Amazon Studios acknowledged the existence of its comedy pilot Betas after the project was cast and well into production. Set in the land of Silicon Valley start-ups where the right algorithm can make you king, Betas, written by Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard, follows four computer geeks and their quest for nerd fame as they attempt to crack the ultimate code. Ed Begley Jr, Jon Daly, Joe Dinicol, Margo Harshman, Charlie Saxton and Karan Soni star in the pilot, written by Michael Lehmann (Heathers) who will direct and produce with Alan Freedland & Alan Cohen and Michael London. Betas, the eighth comedy pilot added to Amazon’s roster, will be made available — along with the other seven comedy pilots and six children’s pilots — for free on Amazon Instant Video and Lovefilm UK/Germany. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Studios continues to ramp up its original slate. I hear the original movie and series production arm of Amazon.com is finalizing a deal for a pilot order to comedy Betas, produced by feature producer Michael London (Sideways) via Groundswell Prods. The company also has been hammering out a license fee deal with Sony Pictures TV for Zombieland, a comedy pilot based on the 2009 movie, which is already actively casting. They would join the six comedy pilots Amazon Studios announced in December, which are in various stages of production and have attracted talent of the caliber of John Goodman and Bebe Neuwirth. The company yesterday gave the green light for five children’s pilots. Read More »