May 29, 2013 6:11am PT by Lesley Goldberg , Lacey Rose
'Alpha House,' 'Betas' Ordered to Series at Amazon
The people have spoken.
After offering all 14 of its original pilots online and giving viewers the power to determine which should move forward, Amazon has greenlighted John Goodman's Alpha House and Ed Begley Jr.'s Betas, along with three children's offerings, to series.
Alpha House stars Goodman and was written by Academy Award nominee and Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury, Tanner ’88). The comedy, which features Goodman (Roseanne, Argo, Treme), Clark Johnson (The Wire), Matt Malloy (Six Feet Under, Law & Order) and Mark Consuelos (American Horror Story: Asylum, Guys With Kids), follows four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington.
For its part, Betas, set in the land of Silicon Valley start-ups, was written by Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard. The half-hour effort follows four friends as they attempt to strike it rich with a mobile social networking app. Ed Begley Jr., Jon Daly, Joe Dinicol, Margo Harshman, Charlie Saxton and Karan Soni star, with Michael Lehmann (Heathers, True Blood, Dexter, American Horror Story) directing and producing the pilot along with Emmy winners Alan Freedland and Alan Cohen (King of the Hill, Due Date, American Dad) and Oscar nominee Michael London (Sideways, The Visitor, The Informant).
“We are thrilled at the enthusiastic customer response to our first original pilots,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios. “We built Amazon Studios so that customers could help decide which stories would make the very best movies and TV shows. It’s exciting to see the process in motion, doing exactly what we set out to do. The success of this first set of pilots has given us the push to try this approach with even more shows -- this is just the beginning.”
Amazon's process weighs consumption data with offline focus groups, social media metrics and a recruited online panel of its movie and TV customers. The open-sourcing philosophy was designed to mirror the approach used by Silicon Valley, with Price noting the goal was to democratize the process. The hope is that viewer involvement will help the streaming service break through in an increasingly crowded landscape, which now includes such outlets as Netflix and Hulu in the original-series game. Though there were no dramas in the Seattle-based company’s first grouping of projects, Price acknowledged that he does have some in development and intends to include the genre in his service's longer term plans.
Amazon rolled out its inaugural slate -- eight comedies and six children's pilots -- for free viewing on Amazon Instant Video on April 19. “We’ll look at which shows people watch and which shows people like,” Price told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. The pilots under consideration ranged in tone, budget and level of name recognition.
Missing from the batch of series orders was Sony Pictures Television’s adaptation of Zombieland. Earlier this month, writer-producer Rhett Reese took to Twitter to announce that the high-profile effort wouldn't be moving forward, despite built-in name recognition and the kind of buzz that typically proves advantageous. "I'll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard Zombieland fans," he wrote. "You guys successfully hated it out of existence."
Here's a look at the children's programming ordered to series:
Annebots revolves around Anne, a young scientist who creates three robot helpers to assist her scientific experiments in the back of her dad’s junkyard. This science-based series from creator J.J. Johnson (Dino Dan, This is Emily Yeung) aims to introduce kids to science and technology in a fun, new way.
Creative Galaxy is an animated interactive art adventure series designed to inspire kids’ creative thinking through crafts, story, music and dance. The series was created by Angela Santomero, creator of Super Why!, the Emmy-nominated literacy series Blue’s Clues and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.
Tumbleaf was created by Drew Hodges and Bix Pix Entertainment, an award-winning stop-motion studio. The series, aimed at preschoolers, is set in a whimsical land where a small blue fox named Fig plays each day and discovers adventure, friendship and love around every bend in the path. The narratives aim to foster play through exploration and scientific thinking.