Who says streaming television can’t be a communal experience?
On November 6 at Hollywood’s Boulevard 3 nightclub, Amazon Studios let its industry friends into its living room of sorts, celebrating the launches of its original programs “Alpha House” and “Betas” amidst (appropriately) binge-worthy treats like burgers and mac and cheese, coffee tables decorated with Rubik’s Cubes, Connect Four and Battleship games and, naturally, walls of flat screen TVs.
“Welcome to Amazon.com’s first ever party with drinks,” Amazon Studios Director Roy Price said, standing on a catwalk overlooking the crowd, a DJ booth behind him. “It’s been a long journey since [Amazon Studios’ Head of Original Programming] Joe Lewis and [Amazon Studios’ Head of Kids’ Programming] Tara Sorensen and I were strategizing at the famous Hollywood power spot, the Van Nuys El Pollo Loco … tonight is really just for fun, so we’re going to put aside all the scripts and the notes and the table reads and the contentious negotiations and just have fun — which of course means we’re going to spend a few hours talking exclusively about television and we’ll close five new deals by midnight.”
Of course, creating original programming for the Web is du jour these days with Amazon Studios rivals like Netflix and YouTube also on board with the idea.
“It’s the future,” says Ed Begley Jr., who stars in Amazon’s “Betas” and also appeared on Netflix’s re-launch of “Arrested Development. He added that “network TV isn’t going away, neither is cable. It’s not going away tomorrow, but more and more people are cutting cable or that dish cable and they’re just getting stuff off the Internet.”
But just because you’re on an Amazon program doesn’t mean you immediately had to, well, get with the program. Natalie Zea of Amazon’s new pilot “The Rebels” says she finally “caved” to binge-watching online because she “got so sick hearing about various digital shows.”
“I’m very analog and I went ahead and made a huge step,” she says. “Because you just don’t want to be left out; you want to know what people are talking about around the water cooler.”
There were also inevitable comparisons between Amazon’s political satire comedy “Alpha House” starring John Goodman and Netflix’s political thriller “House of Cards” with Kevin Spacey.
“We can’t wait to play them in softball,” joked “Alpha’s” Mark Consuelos, while Goodman said Spacey could probably beat him in a fight.
“He’s a vicious, vicious bastard,” deadpanned Goodman of his rival network’s star.
The battle is about to begin. “Alpha House” premieres November 15 and “Betas” premieres November 22 on Amazon Prime.