10:01am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Amazon Passes on Trio of Comedy Pilots
Amazon Studios continues to inch toward scrapping its viewer feedback model.
On Monday, the streaming outlet and retail giant passed on three of its five comedy pilots, with Sea Oak, The Climb and Love You More no longer moving forward. The fate of its two remaining pilots — Greg Daniels' single-camera Upload and multicam Making Friends, from How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and exec producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Meanwhile, Amazon has yet to make decisions about half-hours One Mississippi (from Tig Notaro, formerly exec produced by Louis C.K.) and Jill Soloway's I Love Dick.
The decision to bypass the three comedy pilots comes as Amazon Studios continues to shift away from its viewer feedback pilot season model in favor of straight-to-series orders, which have become more common at the company. Sea Oak (which marked the return to TV for star Glenn Close), The Climb and Love You More were picked up under Amazon Studios' previous administration, before Roy Price and his top scripted exec Joe Lewis exited the company under clouds of controversy. The three comedies launched Nov. 10 and have not been warmly received by critics. THR critic Daniel Fienberg called the slate a "lame duck." Even before Price and Lewis' exits, Amazon was in the midst of a rebrand of sorts, with a mandate from the top to find large-scale hits a la HBO's Game of Thrones. The company recently picked up two seasons of Lord of the Rings in what could be TV's most expensive series ever. A search for a new executive is currently under way.
Sea Oak was based on a short story of the same name by author and creator George Saunders, with the pilot directed by Atlanta's Hiro Murai and executive produced by Murai, Jonathan Krauss and showrunner Evan Dunsky. Lael Smith and Keir McFarlane serve as co-executive producers. The comedy followed Close's working-class, Rust Belt protagonist Aunt Bernie, who dies in a home invasion but comes back from the dead full of rage determined to get the life she never had, making a range of demands upon her two nieces and quasi-stripper nephew who live in the Sea Oak subsidized housing complex.
Detroit comedy The Climb hailed from the Mark Gordon Co. and creator and star Diarra Kilpatrick. It followed an office assistant who seeks internet fame. Chris Robinson directed the pilot, which was filmed on location in Detroit, with Christina Lee serving as showrunner on the first episode.
Love You More was from creators Bridget Everett, Michael Patrick King, Bobcat Goldthwait and Carolyn Strauss. The half-hour centered on Karen Best (Bridget Everett), a big girl with a big personality and a big love of chardonnay, which occasionally causes her to make some big mistakes with men. However, Karen also has a big heart, which comes in handy for her job as a counselor at an independent living residence for young adults with Down syndrome. Her ability to stand up for all the little people in life sometimes manifests into a fantasy rock music number, where we discover she also has a big and beautiful voice. Warner Bros. TV will co-produce the series with Amazon Studios. King will serve as showrunner and exec-produce with director Goldthwait. Everett will serve as a co-executive producer.