Internet retailer hopes cameos pull viewers into original comedy -- and drive up Prime memberships
The final episode of political satire “Alpha House,” which debuts Friday, Jan. 10, will also feature Michael Steele, former head of Republican National Committee; former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw; CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin; and Bill Murray as jailed Sen. Vernon Smits (a character who appears briefly in the first episode).
Amazon is hoping the cameos will help pull more viewers into the show — and, ultimately, lead to more signups of its $79-per-year Prime free-shipping program that includes unlimited streaming video. The first three episodes of “Alpha House” are available for free for all Amazon customers, but the final eight are exclusively available on Prime Instant Video.
For its originals, Amazon did not adopt the full-on binge model of releasing all episodes as Netflix usually has. By spacing out eps weekly Amazon hopes to build buzz; indeed, it now has a finale to tout because of the approach.
“Alpha House” was the No. 1 most-streamed TV show on Amazon Prime Instant for several weeks after its Nov. 15 debut. However, it is currently in fifth place, behind the first and third seasons of “Downton Abbey” (streaming exclusively on Amazon), the fourth season of FX’s “Justified” and season 1 of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty.”
“Alpha House” follows the misadventures of four GOP senators — John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos — who room together in a D.C. townhouse. The series written by Garry Trudeau and produced by Trudeau, Elliot Webb and political journalist Jonathan Alter.
Weiner brings a history of actual political shenanigans to the fictional “Alpha House” crew. The former U.S. representative from New York resigned in 2011 after a sexting scandal. Last year he ran an unsuccessful campaign to become mayor of New York City.