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Amazon to give six pilots online audition

Comedy slate includes production from The Onion

Amazon has settled on six comedy pilots as part of its first slate of original TV programming, including projects from the creators of “Doonesbury” and The Onion.

But in a twist on typical development procedure worthy of an Internet juggernaut renowned for scrutinizing the behavioral patterns of its customers, which of the six will get a series order will be decided by studying viewer feedback from Amazon Instant Video, where the pilots will be posted for free sampling.

Those projects ordered to series will then be available exclusively to members of Amazon’s subscription VOD service, Prime Instant Video, and U.K.’s Lovefilm, which Amazon also owns.

The six projects include “Alpha House,” from “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau, about four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington D.C., and “The Onion Presents: The News,” which is set behind the scenes of the fictional Onion News Network.

“Supanatural” is an animated comedy series about two outspoken divas who are humanity’s last line of defense against the supernatural, when they’re not working at the mall. The series, written by Lily Sparks, Price Peterson and Ryan Sandoval, will be produced by Jason Micallef (“Butter”) and Kristen Schaal (“The Daily Show”).

“Dark Minions” is an animated workplace series from “Big Bang Theory” co-stars Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie about two slackers toiling away on an intergalactic warship. The pilot will be produced by Principato-Young (“Reno 911”).

Written by Andrew Orvedahl, Adam Cayton-Holland and Benjamin Roy of Denver comedy troupe Grawlix, “Those Who Can’t” is about three juvenile, misfit teachers who are just as immature, if not more so, than the students they teach.

“Can’t” came through Amazon Studios’ open-door submission process, which saw 2,000 scripts that had to be considered.

Already reported was “Browsers,” a single-camera project that evolves around four interns working at a Huffington Post-esque website, with musical elements woven into the narrative. “Daily” scribe David Javerbaum and 3 Arts Entertainment originally developed it last year at CBS, but it didn’t get beyond the script stage.

No timetable has been set in place as to when the pilots will be ready or when the series orders will be made by Amazon Studios, the original production arm for the company.

“The six comedy pilots will begin production shortly, and once they are complete, we plan to post the pilots on Amazon Instant Video for feedback,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios. “We want Amazon customers to help us decide which original series we should produce.”

The original programming efforts are part of Amazon’s bid to have its Prime service compete with Netflix and Hulu, which are mixing a growing number of original series in with their deep library of licensed TV and movies in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Amazon has also been stepping up its efforts to lock in exclusive library content, striking deals earlier this week to get a lock on TNT series “Falling Skies” and “The Closer.”

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