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Amazon Studios is cleaning house.
The retail giant and streaming platform has opted to cancel comedies One Mississippi, I Love Dick and Jean-Claude Van Johnson. The news comes hours after Amazon renewed half-hour The Tick for a second season.
Amazon — which, like fellow streamers Netflix and Hulu, does not release viewership information — is in the midst of a search for a new executive to lead its original programming efforts after Roy Price and his top lieutenant Joe Lewis were ousted amid sexual harassment and conflict of interest allegations, respectively. In the interim, Amazon Studios chief operating officer Albert Cheng has taken over for Price, while Sharon Tal Yguado has been overseeing scripted originals after being hired to focus on genre programming.
On the creative side, Amazon late last year launched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which has become an awards-season darling. The company also signed Maisel creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino as well as Catastrophe‘s Sharon Horgan to overall deals. Jill Soloway, who created I Love Dick, remains in business with Amazon with Transparent and an overall deal as well. (The future of Transparent remains murky following harassment allegations surrounding star Jeffrey Tambor, who recently backtracked on his comments that he was quitting the critical favorite.)
One Mississippi, created by, starring and inspired by the life of comedian Tig Notaro, was produced by FX Productions and Louis C.K. Disgraced comedian C.K. was fired by FXP, with Amazon now cutting ties with Notaro, who had been outspoken about the man who executive produced her show amid allegations and his subsequent admission to years of sexually harassing women. The series ran for two seasons. Dropping the comedy will no doubt help further distance Amazon, which has its own PR to repair, from C.K.
Jean-Claude Van Johnson, marking the series-regular debut of Jean-Claude Van Damme, ran for one season and starred the big-screen actor as a version of himself — a famous actor and martial-arts pro who comes out of retirement to resume his alter-ego: an undercover private contractor by the name of Jean-Claude Van Johnson. Van Damme starred and exec produced alongside The Expendables‘ Dave Callaham. The comedy hailed from Scott Free Television’s Ridley Scott and David Zucker. Jean-Claude Van Johnson launched in December to poor reviews, with The Hollywood Reporter‘s Daniel Fienberg calling it a “great idea, great pilot [and] disappointing series.”
I Love Dick, meanwhile, marked Soloway’s follow-up series to Transparent. THR chief TV critic Tim Goodman ranked the series as one of the worst of 2017, calling it “an unlikable, pretentious mess that was actually grueling to watch.” Kevin Bacon starred alongside Kathryn Hahn. Bacon, meanwhile, has already booked his next TV gig, signing on for Showtime pilot City on a Hill.
Amazon’s comedy lineup now consists of Catastrophe, Transparent, Fleabag and The Tick, the latter of which coincidentally co-stars Lewis’ wife. The decision to cancel all three series also arrives a month after Amazon passed on three of its five comedy pilots — Sea Oak, The Climb and Love You More — as the streamer looks to do more straight-to-series orders in a bid to better compete with Netflix, Apple and HBO, among others. Amazon has long had a pilot process in which they posted the episodes and let viewers help determine their future. Many insiders have said that democratic process was largely for show and meant little in the streamer’s ultimate series pickup/pass decisions.
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