Amazon.com will debut five pilots as part of its third pilot season on Aug. 28 in the U.S. and the U.K., including comedies from Steven Soderbergh and Whit Stillman and dramatic thrillers from Marc Forster and Shaun Cassidy.
As with its previous two pilot “seasons,” Amazon will invite customers feedback to help execs decide which pilots to turn into full series that will become available to members of Prime Instant Video. During the pilot-review process any Amazon customer can watch, rate and comment on the pilots.
“We are delighted to be able to bring Amazon customers new shows from some of Hollywood’s most talented actors and creators,” said Amazon Studios director Roy Price. “There is something for everyone in this season and I can’t wait to hear our customers’ feedback when they premiere later this month.”
Amazon is working to boost its original content lineup — recently disclosing it will spend more than $100 million on series and pilot production in the third quarter of 2014 — as it vies against Netflix, the leader in the subscription-video segment, and others like Hulu. Netflix has garnered buzz and widespread attention particularly for two original series, “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black,” which are contenders in the Primetime Emmy Awards this year.
The Amazon Studios approach of ordering pilots and using data to decide which to pick up is different from the strategy employed by Netflix, which has eschewed the pilot route.
Amazon’s five pilots are:
- “The Cosmopolitans”: Written, directed and produced by Whit Stillman (“Metropolitan, Barcelona,” “The Last Days of Disco”), comedy follows a group of young American expats in contemporary Paris searching for love and friendship in a foreign city. Romcom pilot stars Chloë Sevigny (pictured, above), Adam Brody, Carrie MacLemore, Dree Hemingway, Freddy Åsblom, Jordan Rountree and Adriano Giannini. The pilot was filmed on location in Paris.
- “Hand of God”: TV debut of filmmaker Marc Forster (“Monster’s Ball,” “Finding Neverland,” “World War Z”) stars Ron Perlman (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Dana Delany (“Body of Proof”). Show centers on Judge Harris (Perlman), a hard-living married man with a high-end call girl on the side, who suffers a mental breakdown and goes on a vigilante quest to find the rapist who tore his family apart. Forster, scribe Ben Watkins, Perlman, Brian Wilkins and Jeff King are exec producers, and Jillian Kugler is co-executive producer.
- “Hysteria”: Thriller created and written by Shaun Cassidy, the former pop star whose TV production credits include “Invasion,” centers on a girls’ competitive dance team in Austin, Texas, that is stricken by a strange, psycho-physiological illness that spreads through social media. Pilot stars Mena Suvari as a neurologist who returns to her hometown to investigate the cause. Directed by Otto Bathurst (U.K. miniseries “Peaky Blinders”), who is exec producing alongside Cassidy, Adam Schroeder, Sharon Hall, Andrew Kosove, Broderick Johnson and Bryan Zuriff. Amazon Studios collaborated with Universal Television and Alcon Television Group on the production.
- “Really”: Written, directed and starring Jay Chandrasekhar (“Super Troopers”) and exec producer Jamie Tarses (“Happy Endings”). Comedy is about four hard-charging suburban Chicago couples trying to retain a grasp on their dwindling youth, starring Chandrasekhar, Sarah Chalke, Selma Blair, Travis Schuldt, Hayes MacArthur, Collette Wolfe, Luka Jones, Lindsay Sloane and Rob Delaney. “Really” comes from Main Street Films’ Craig Chang and Harrison Kordestani.
- “Red Oaks”: Produced by Steven Soderbergh (“Behind the Candelabra,” “Traffic”) and directed by David Gordon Green (“Pineapple Express,” “Eastbound and Down”). Comedy stars Craig Roberts (“Submarine”) as an assistant tennis pro at the Red Oaks Country Club in suburban New Jersey in 1985 along with Jennifer Grey (“It’s Like, You Know”), Richard Kind (“Luck”), Oliver Cooper (“Californication”), Paul Reiser (“Mad About You”), Alexandra Socha, Gage Golightly and Ennis Esmer. Written by Gregory Jacobs (“The Knick”) and Joe Gangemi (“Stonehearst Asylum,” previous working title “Eliza Graves”), who exec produced with Soderbergh and Green.
In Amazon’s second wave of pilots this April, Amazon customers posted tens of thousands of comments. That input, according to Price, helped Amazon decide to greenlight six series: “Transparent,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” “Bosch, “The After” and kids series “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street” and “Wishenpoof!” Out of its first crop of pilots in 2013, Amazon Studios greenlit John Goodman-starrer “Alpha House” and comedy “Betas.”