Amazon Studios Announces Second Slate of Pilots

6:00 AM PST 02/06/2014 by Natalie Jarvey
Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios

The tech giant will release 10 new shows — five adult dramas and comedies and five children’s series — for viewer consideration.

Amazon Studios is bringing back its pilot season with 10 new shows.

Just like last year, Amazon is releasing its new slate of pilots for free on Amazon Instant Video. The tech giant will then factor in viewer consumption and feedback when it decides which pilots to pick up to series.

Last year, Amazon released 14 pilots. Its first pickups were political comedy Alpha House, Silicon Valley-set Betas and three children’s shows.

Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, says the Seattle firm was pleased with the first iteration of its pilot season.

“We’ve very happy with the process,” he says. “So we’re basically doing it the same way this time. We’ll be very glad to be making these decisions with Amazon customers at our side.”

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This time, Amazon is releasing 10 pilots — five adult dramas and comedies and five children’s series.

In the adult category, Amazon is adding hourlong dramas to its slate for the first time. On the docket is Bosch, a project penned by Eric Overmyer and Michael Connelly based on the author’s Harry Bosch series. The pilot stars Titus Welliver as Harry Bosch. Bosch is joined by The After, from writer-director Chris Carter about eight strangers thrown together by a mysterious catastrophe.

Among the comedies is a series from writer-director Roman Coppola, actor-musician Jason Schwartzman and writer-director Alex Timbers called Mozart in the Jungle. The project, based on the book by Blair Tindall, follows Gael Garcia Bernal as the brash new conductor of the New York Symphony and Malcolm McDowell as the old-timer being pushed out.

Coppola says he was drawn to the world of sex, drugs and drama described in the book.

“It just seemed so obvious and so clear that a show with this setting, an incredibly refined, sophisticated world of orchestra, would contrast with the passionate people and all their foibles and weaknesses,” he says.

Another comedy, The Rebels, follows ex-cheerleader Julie Levine (Natalie Zea) after her husband dies and leaves her the owner of the fictional Los Angeles Rebels pro-football team. The series, written by Jeremy Garelick and Jon Weinbach, had creative support from Ice Cube and former football player Michael Strahan.

The final comedy project is Transparent, from Jill Soloway (Afternoon Delight), about a dysfunctional L.A. family. Jeffrey Tambor plays the patriarch with a big secret.

Soloway says she’s not daunted by Amazon’s trial-by-viewer pilot season model.

“I actually find it kind of relieving,” she says. “In the past when I’ve made pilots, there’s always this phantom testing. This is really a way for people to see it and decide if they like it for themselves.”

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Among the five children’s pilots is Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, a live-action adventure that was submitted by a first-time writer through Amazon Studios’ online submission portal. Other kid-friendly shows include Hardboiled Eggheads, an animated comedy from Duane Capizzi about two braniacs, The Jo B. & G. Raff Show, an animated series that follows the hosts of a TV show, Maker Shack Agency, which follows 13-year-old inventor Wolfie, and Wishenpoof!, about a girl named Bianca with magical wishing abilities.

“Kids' shows are really important to Amazon customers,” Price says. “We’ve been working with innovative producers and thinkers about children’s TV to really think about how we can create a new generation of kids' TV lineups.”

Amazon has additional pilots in the works. Price says the company plans to roll out more shows later this year.

He adds, “When there’s a great opportunity to make a show, then that’s the time to do it.”

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