Amazon Studios ordered five new original series — including alternate-history thriller “The Man in the High Castle” and dark comedy “Mad Dogs” — and renewed drama “Mozart in the Jungle” for a second season.
The shows will premiere exclusively to Prime members in the U.S., U.K. and Germany later this year and in 2016, on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service.
The five new series are “The Man in the High Castle,” based on Philip K. Dick’s 1962 alternative history novel about a world in which the Allies lost World War II; hourlong dark comedy “Mad Dogs” (pictured above); docu-series “The New Yorker Presents”; and kids’ shows “Just Add Magic” and “The Stinky & Dirty Show.”
In addition, Amazon ordered a second season of “Mozart in the Jungle,” a dramatic comedy about sex, drugs and clashing personalities in the New York classical music scene based on the memoir by Blair Tindall. Season two will premiere in early 2016 from executive producers Roman Coppola (“Moonrise Kingdom”), Jason Schwartzman (“The Darjeeling Limited”) and Paul Weitz (“About a Boy”).
Amazon picks shows to greenlight as full series in part based on feedback on the pilots. During the “pilot season,” any Amazon customer in the U.S., U.K. and Germany can watch, rate and comment on them. To date, Amazon Studios has ordered 13 series, including Golden Globe-winning “Transparent,” which will return for a second season later this year.
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“During the latest pilot season, Amazon customers made ‘The Man in the High Castle’ our most-watched pilot ever,” said Roy Price, VP of Amazon Studios. “These new series, including our first docu-series, are some of our most ambitious to date, and I’m looking forward to their premieres in the future.”
Missing the cut from the most recent run of seven Amazon pilots were “Point of Honor,” a Civil War-era drama from Carlton Cuse (“Lost”) co-produced with ABC Signature Studios; “Cocked,” a dark comedy created by Sam Baum (“Lie to Me”) and Sam Shaw (“Manhattan” TV series); “Down Dog,” a comedy about a late-30s Southern California yoga instructor; and “Salem Rogers,” a comedy about a former supermodel re-entering the world after years in rehab.
Amazon Studios previously announced three original series to debut in 2015: “Hand of God,” from Marc Forster and Ben Watkins; comedy “Red Oaks,” from Steven Soderbergh, David Gordon Green, Greg Jacobs and Joe Gangemi; and kids’ series “Wishenpoof!” from Angela C. Santomero and Out of the Blue Enterprises.
In 2015, Amazon Studios plans to begin to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release, followed by early-window distribution on Prime Instant Video.
Here’s a rundown of the five new shows:
- “The Man in the High Castle”: Set 20 years after the Allied Powers lost World War II, the U.S. and much of the world have been split between Japan and Germany. Story plays out in the Western U.S., following intrigues as tensions between the two superpowers heightens. The hour-long pilot starred Alexa Davalos (“Mob City”), Luke Kleintank (“Pretty Little Liars”), Rupert Evans (“The Village”), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (“Mortal Kombat Legacy”), Joel De La Fuente (“Hemlock Grove”), Rufus Sewell (“Eleventh Hour”) and DJ Qualls (“Z Nation”). Pilot was directed by David Semel (“Madam Secretary,” “Heroes”) and written by Frank Spotnitz (“The X-Files”), both serving as executive producers. Also executive producing are Ridley Scott (“Blade Runner”) and David W. Zucker (“The Good Wife”), with co-executive producer Jordan Sheehan of Scott Free Prods. and executive producers Stewart Mackinnon and Christian Baute of Headline Pictures (“The Invisible Woman”). In addition, Isa Dick Hackett will executive produce and Kalen Egan will co-executive produce on behalf of Electric Shepherd; Christopher Tricarico (“May in the Summer”) is also executive producer.
- “Mad Dogs”: Based on the U.K. series created by Cris Cole (“The Good Times Are Killing Me”), show follows the reunion of a group of underachieving 40-something friends each at a crossroads in their lives who reunite at one of the group’s Belizean villa to celebrate his retirement. Pilot starred Steve Zahn (“Dallas Buyers Club”), Billy Zane (“Titanic”), Romany Malco (“Weeds”), Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”) and Ben Chaplin (“The Thin Red Line”). Executive producers are Cole, Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”) and Marney Hochman (“Last Resort”), Andy Harries (“Strikeback”), Suzanne Mackie (“Kinky Boots”) and Charles McDougall (“The Good Wife”). The pliot was directed by McDougall and is being co-produced with Sony Pictures Television.
- “The New Yorker Presents”: Half-hour docuseries from the Condé Nast magazine. The pilot featured a short film with actors Alan Cumming (“The Good Wife”) and Brett Gelman (“Go On”) based on a story by Simon Rich (“Saturday Night Live”) and directed by Troy Miller (“Arrested Development”); a poem by Matthew Dickman; a documentary by director Jonathan Demme (“The Silence of the Lambs”) about biologist Tyrone Hayes based on a Rachel Aviv article; and an interview with performance artist Marina Abramović, conducted by New Yorker writer Ariel Levy. Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) is executive producer, joined by Dave Snyder (“Death Row Stories”) and Condé Nast Entertainment president Dawn Ostroff (“The Fashion Fund”). Pilot is co-produced by Condé Nast Entertainment and Gibney’s Jigsaw Prods.
- “Just Add Magic”: Aimed at kids 6-11, show is based on Cindy Callaghan’s young adult book of the same name and adapted by Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco (“Sullivan & Son,” “Fairly Odd Parents”). Single-camera live-action pilot was directed by Joe Nussbaum (“George Lucas in Love,” “Awkward”). Story centers on a girl and her two friends who stumble on her grandmother’s mysterious cookbook in the attic — and discover it has some interesting recipes. Show stars Olivia Sanabia (“Extant”), Abby Donnelly (“Suburgatory”), Aubrey Miller (“Austin & Ally”) and Judah Bellamy (“Home”).
- “The Stinky & Dirty Show”: Animated show for preschool-age children is based on the “I Stink!” book series by Kate and Jim McMullan, adapted by Guy Toubes (“The Adventures of Chuck & Friends,” “Littlest Pet Shop”) and animated by Brown Bag Films (“Peter Rabbit,” “Octonauts,” “Doc McStuffins”). Show follows the adventures and mishaps faced by two best friends — and unlikely heroes — Stinky the garbage truck and Dirty the backhoe loader.