Audience reaction will help determine what gets ordered to series
LONDON — Amazon Studios has released the first wave of pilots for its original comedy and children’s skeins to let Amazon users help pick which will be ordered to series.
The eight adult comedy pilots and six children’s pilots went live via Amazon Instant Video and Prime Instant Video in the U.S. and the Amazon-owned Lovefilm in the U.K. Germany is also set to receive dubbed and subtitled versions of the pilots through Lovefilm at a later date.
Audiences in the three countries will be able to access all the pilots for free, with their feedback helping to determine which skeins Amazon Studios will produce. In addition, the Amazon-owned IMDb will be used as a promotional and marketing platform for the initiative.
Pilots are available at amazonoriginals.com and can be viewed for free from any Amazon Instant Video app or device.
The release is a stark departure from the typical TV-industry practice of making the creative assessment of pilots an entirely internal matter for most channels, though it’s a move entirely in keeping with Amazon’s data-centric perspective.
“It was the logical next step in a consumer-focused company,” Lovefilm’s chief marketing officer Simon Morris told Variety of the plan to use Amazon users insights to help pick the shows developed. “Amazon’s DNA is data and using data to drive the service. Amazon’s goal is to be the world’s most consumer-centric company.”
Amazon originally announced its plans to develop original comedy and children’s content in May last year, inviting producers and writers to upload proposals to the Amazon Studios website. The company would then plan to option one project each month for its development slate, to be tested for viability with an audience. The concept generated more than 2,000 submissions from all over the world by the end of 2012.
The first six comedies selected to go to pilot stage were announced in December, with spin-off of 2009 movie “Zombieland” and computer geek show “Betas” added in late March. The first five children’s pilots, aimed at children aged two to six, were announced at the end of January, with math-based show “Sara Solves It” completing the lineup in March.
Amazon Studios launched in Nov. 2010 with the ambition to develop film and television. Since the launch, more than 700 test movies and 14,000 movie scripts and 2,700 series pilot scripts have been submitted to the company, with 20 additional projects currently in development. “We’ve come a long way quite quickly,” asserts Morris.
The Pilot Projects – Comedy:
“Alpha House” – Created by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau, “Alpha House” is a live-action comedy about four Republican senators (John Goodman, Matt Malloy, Clark Johnson and Mark Consuelos) who live together in a Washington D.C. townhouse. Veteran TV helmer Adam Bernstein directed the pilot, featuring cameos from Bill Murray and Stephen Colbert.
“Betas” – Produced and helmed by Michael Lehmann, “Betas” stars Joe Dinicol, Karan Soni, Jon Daly and Charlie Sexton as four Silicon Valley computer geeks on a quest for nerd fame as they attempt to crack the ultimate code. Ed Begley Jr. co-stars.
“Browsers” – A musical comedy created by David Javerbaum with the pilot helmed by Don Scardino, “Browsers,” follows four interns as they start work at news website The Daily Gush, run by a formidable publisher, played by Tony and Emmy Award-winner Bebe Neuwirth.
“Dark Minions” – A stop-motion animated skein about two slackers who work on board an evil space station featuring the voices of Richard Kind, Clancy Brown and co-creators Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie.
“Onion News Empire” – A scripted comedy set behind-the-scenes of The Onion News Network, featuring Jeffrey Tambor as an egomaniacal anchor and William Sadler as the over-stressed news director. Created by Will Graham and Dan Mirk, and produced by Graham and Marc Lieberman.
“Supanatural” – A 2D animated skein about two outspoken divas (voiced by Jameeliah Garrett and Lily Sparks) who are humanity’s last line of defense against the supernatural. Created by Sparks, Price Peterson and Ryan Sandoval. Producers are Jason Micallef and Kristen Schaal.
“Those Who Can’t” – A comedy about three juvenile, misfit teachers who are more immature than their students, “Those Who Can’t” was created and produced by and stars Andrew Orvedahl, Adam Cayton-Holland and Ben Roy, who were discovered through Amazon Studios’ online open-door process.
“Zombieland” – A spin-off of the 2009 movie whose writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick return with “Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil” helmer Eli Craig handling the pilot. Gavin Polone produces. Kirk Ward, Tyler Ross, Maiara Walsh and Izabela Vidovic take on the characters played respectively by Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin in the film.
The Pilot Projects – Children’s:
“Annebots” – A science-based series about a young scientist and her three robot helpers who assist her in experiments in the back of her dad’s junkyard. Created by J.J. Johnson.
“Creative Galaxy” – Interactive art adventure series featuring an alien artist, featuring the voices of Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs. Created and produced by Angela C. Santomero.
“Oz Adventures” – Problem-solving series featuring the children of the characters from “The Wizard of Oz.” Created by Dara Monahan.
“Sara Solves It” – A math-based puzzle program about a brother and sister solving mysteries of everyday life. Produced and created by Carol Greenwald and Angela C. Santomero.
“Teeny Tiny Dogs” – Produced by The Jim Henson Co. Features four dogs who help each other navigate the big world. Created by Howard Baker.
“Tumbleaf” – Stop-motion animation about a small blue fox who plays each day in a whimsical land discovering adventure, friendship and love. Produced by Big Pix Studios. Created by Drew Hodges.