As broadcast networks are moving onto screening their pilots for next season, Amazon Studios too is kicking off its pilot screening process. But unlike the traditional TV networks’ pilot screenings, which are shrouded in secrecy, Amazon brass are doing theirs out in the open. The company this morning has unveiled its inaugural slate of 14 pilots — eight comedies and six kids shows. All have been made available for free on Amazon Instant Video, LoveFilm UK and LoveFilm Germany. Viewers are being invited to watch the pilots and review them on the site.
There will be “a lot of data points” in Amazon’s decision-making process as to which pilots will be picked up to series,” said Amazon Studios director Roy Price. Amazon will count how many people watched each pilot, how many watched each pilot from start to finish and how many shared it on social media. Additionally, the company will evaluate feedback from an online panel recruited on Amazon preview as well as traditional offline focus groups.
The analysis will be both quantitative and qualitative. For instance, a pilot that gets a lot of “likes” but the vast majority of people like it, don’t love it, won’t score as high as a pilot that has fewer fans but they all love it as a passionate fan base is key to the success of online series. Amazon brass have not decided yet how many half-hour pilots they will pick up to series, with the orders likely to be around 13 episodes each. The launch date for Amazon’s first original scripted series also is TBD. Meanwhile, the company has quietly started to develop drama series to add to its portfolio of comedy and kids programs.
Amazon’s comedy pilots available for viewing as of today include Alpha House, starring John Goodman with cameos by Bill Murray and Stephen Colbert; musical Browsers starring Bebe Neuwirth; Onion News Empire, starring Jeffrey Tambor; Those Who Can’t, which was submitted though Amazon Studios’ website; Dark Minions, written by Big Bang Theory co-stars Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie; animated comedy Supanatural; Betas, starring Ed Begley Jr and Jon Daly; and Zombieland, based on the hit feature. Here are more detailed descriptions:
Alpha House was written by Academy Award nominee and Pulitzer-Prize winner Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury, Tanner ’88). Alpha House follows four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington DC.
Written by 12-time Emmy-winning comedy writer David Javerbaum (The Daily Show), directed by Don Scardino (30 Rock) and produced by 3 Arts’ David Miner, Browsers is a musical comedy set in contemporary Manhattan that follows four young people as they start their first jobs at a news website.
Written by Big Bang Theory co-stars Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie, Dark Minions is an animated workplace series about two slackers just trying to make a paycheck working an intergalactic warship. The pilot will be produced by Principato-Young (Reno 911).
The Onion Presents: The News
The Onion Presents: The News is a smart, fast-paced scripted comedy set behind the scenes of The Onion News Network that shows just how far journalists will go to stay at the top of their game. The Onion Presents: The News is from The Onion’s Will Graham & Dan Mirk (The Onion News Network, The Onion Sportsdome).
Supanatural is an animated comedy series about two outspoken divas who are humanity’s last line of defense against the supernatural, when they’re not working at the mall. The series, written by Lily Sparks, Price Peterson and Ryan Sandoval, is produced by Jason Micallef (Butter) and Kristen Schaal (The Daily Show).
Those Who Can’t
Written by Andrew Orvedahl, Adam Cayton-Holland and Benjamin Roy (Grawlix), who were discovered through Amazon Studios online open door process, Those Who Can’t is a comedy about three juvenile, misfit teachers who are just as immature, if not more so, than the students they teach.
Based on the hit Columbia Pictures movie of the same name, and finds four survivors outwitting zombies and searching for a place to call home. The Zombieland pilot comes from the feature film’s original creative team, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Joe Schmo Show), and producer Gavin Polone (Gilmore Girls). Eli Craig (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil) is directing the pilot. The part of Tallahassee is played by Kirk Ward (The Island), Maiara Walsh (Desperate Housewives, Switched at Birth,) is cast as Wichita, Tyler Ross (Milkshake) will play Columbus, and Izabela Vidovic has the role of Little Rock.
Set in the land of Silicon Valley start-ups where the right algorithm can make you king, Betas, written by Evan Endicott andJosh Stoddard, follows four computer geeks and their quest for nerd fame as they attempt to crack the ultimate code. Ed Begley Jr., Jon Daly, Joe Dinicol, Margo Harshman, Charlie Saxton and Karan Soni star in the pilot. Michael Lehmann (Heathers) directed and produced the pilot along with Alan Freedland and Alan Cohen (King of the Hill), and producer Michael London (Sideways).
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 ofSuper Why!, the Emmy-nominated literacy series, Blue’s Clues and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
In this innovative problem solving series, Dot, Dorothy’s daughter, goes off to Oz everyday with the children of the beloved characters from L. Frank Baum’s classic book, The Wizard of Oz. In each episode, the yellow brick road leads Dot to a new magical location where she solves problems alongside her Oz friends.
Teeny Tiny Dogs
Produced by The Jim Henson Company (Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train) and created by Howard Baker (Rugrats), Teeny Tiny Dogs follows Butch, Butterfly, Dinky and Polly as they help one another navigate the big world despite their teeny, tiny, small size. This series promotes happiness through friendship, learning, growing and developing a strong sense of self as seen through the eyes of canine friends.
Tumbleaf was created by Drew Hodges and Bix Pix Studios, 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. Children will be enriched by narratives that promote play through exploration and cognitive reasoning.
The Untitled J.J. Johnson Project
The Untitled J.J. Johnson Project 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.