Amazon Studios today announced six drama and comedy pilots that will be made available for viewing as part of the company’s first pilot season of 2015. The six new pilots — all quietly ordered, cast and shot earlier this year and covered by Deadline — include hourlong shows from top showrunners: Mad Dogs from Cris Cole (The Bill) and Shawn Ryan (The Shield), The Man In The High Castle from Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files), Point Of Honor from Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Randall Wallace (Braveheart) and Cocked from Sam Baum (Lie To Me) and Sam Shaw (Manhattan),. Comedy will be represented by half hour pilots Down Dog from Robin Schiff (Are You There, Chelsea?) and Salem Rogers from newcomer Lindsey Stoddart.
Additionally,Amazon will premiere its first docu-series pilot, the half-hour The New Yorker Presents, which includes scripted narrative and documentary segments based on the magazine and is produced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions and Condé Nast Entertainment.
Amazon is coming off the critical success of its latest original series, comedy Transparent. The company’s most recent pilot season featured comedies The Cosmopolitans, Really and Red Oaks, and drama thrillers Hand of God and Hysteria. Of them, Hand of God and Red Oaks were picked up to series, while The Cosmpoplitans received an order for additional scripts. Here are details on the seven pilots set for Amazon’s first pilot season of 2015:
Created by Sam Baum (Lie To Me) and Sam Shaw (Manhattan – TV series), Cocked stars Sam Trammell (True Blood) as Richard Paxson, a family man and corporate lap dog who left his family in rural Virginia twenty years before and vowed never to go back. After some unfortunate circumstances, he is forced to leave the big city and return home to help his family’s gun business—one of the oldest in the country. But no good deed goes unpunished. Older brother Grady Paxson, played by Jason Lee (My Name is Earl), who’s a bachelor, playboy and gun aficionado, isn’t so happy to have him back, and Richard’s liberal wife and two opinionated teenage children are horrified by the world they have been thrown into. Hilarity, epic fights and emotional breakdowns ensue. Cocked also stars Brian Dennehy (The Good Wife) as Wade Paxson, Laura Fraser (Breaking Bad) as Hannah Paxson, and Dreama Walker (The Good Wife) as Tabby Paxson. The hour-long dark comedy pilot is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Skull Island), and Erwin Stoff (Unbroken), Shaw, and Baum are Executive Producers.
Blessed with good looks, a winning smile, hippie parents and a Southern California upbringing, life has been relatively easy thus far for Logan Wood (played by Josh Casaubon, I Just Want My Pants Back). In his late 30’s, having coasted through romances with countless women and various random jobs, he now teaches yoga to the trophy wives, hot moms and aspiring celebrities of Santa Monica and Venice Beach. And he’s damn good at it. But when Logan and his current girlfriend, a successful and attractive older woman named Amanda (played by Paget Brewster, Criminal Minds) who happens to be the owner of the yoga studio, break up, life starts to get more complicated. Down Dog also stars Lyndsy Fonseca (How I Met Your Mother), Will Greenberg (Halt And Catch Fire), Andrea Savage (The Life And Times Of Tim), Amir Talai (American Dad), Kris Kristofferson (Lone Star), and Alysia Reiner (Orange Is The New Black). The pilot is written by Robin Schiff (Are You There, Chelsea?), produced by Bob Cooper (RFK) and Michael Fuchs (Death In The Modern Age), and directed by Bradley Silberling (Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events).
Mad Dogs is an hour-long dark comedy created by Cris Cole (The Bill), and Executive Produced by Cole, Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Marney Hochman (Last Resort), Andy Harries (DCI Banks), Suzanne Mackie (All In Good Time), and Charles McDougall (The Mindy Project). Based on the hit UK series, Mad Dogs follows the twisted reunion of a group of underachieving forty-something friends—a mixture of single, married and recently divorced—who are all at different crossroads in their lives. Celebrating the early retirement of an old friend at his gorgeous Belize villa, grudges begin to emerge and secrets explode as their trip becomes a labyrinthine nightmare of lies, deception and murder. Mad Dogs is a twisted tale of friendship put to the ultimate test. As an inconceivable chain of events unfolds, cracks within the group widen before the friends realize that the only people they can trust are each other, the last people they want to be relying on. The pilot stars Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) as Cobi, Billy Zane (Twin Peaks) as Milo, Romany Malco (Weeds) as Gus, Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos) as Lex, and Ben Chaplin (World Without End) as Joel. Mad Dogs is directed by McDougall and is being co-produced with Sony Pictures Television.
The Man In The High Castle
Based on Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning 1962 alternative history, The Man In The High Castle considers the question of what would have happened if the Allied Powers had lost World War II. Some 20 years after that loss, the United States and much of the world has now been split between Japan and Germany, the major hegemonic states. But the tension between these two powers is mounting, and this stress is playing out in the western U.S. Through a collection of characters in various states of posing (spies, sellers of falsified goods, others with secret identities), The Man in the High Castle provides an intriguing tale about life and history as it relates to authentic and manufactured reality. The hour-long dramatic pilot stars Alexa Davalos (Mob City) as Juliana Crain, Luke Kleintank (Pretty Little Liars) as Joe Blake, Rupert Evans (The Village) as Frank Frink, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy) as Tagomi, Joel De La Fuente (Hemlock Grove) as Inspector Kido, Rufus Sewell (Eleventh Hour) as John Smith and DJ Qualls (Z Nation) as Ed McCarthy. The pilot is directed by David Semel (Madam Secretary, Heroes) and written by Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files), both serving as Executive Producers. Also executive producing are Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker, with co-executive producer Jordan Sheehan of Scott Free Productions (The Good Wife, The Andromeda Strain), and Executive Producers Stewart Mackinnon and Christian Baute of Headline Pictures (The Invisible Woman). In addition, Isa Dick Hackett will executive produce and Kalen Egan will co-executive produce on behalf of Electric Shepherd (The Adjustment Bureau). Christopher Tricarico (May In The Summer) is also Executive Producer.
The New Yorker Presents
America’s most award-winning magazine comes to life in this half hour docu-series pilot. The New Yorker Presents is a completely unique viewing experience that features Tony-Award winner Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) and actor Brett Gelman (Go On) in a short film based on a story by Simon Rich (Saturday Night Live) and directed by Emmy Award-winning director Troy Miller (Arrested Development); a poem by Matthew Dickman; a documentary by Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) about biologist Tyrone Hayes based on a Rachel Aviv article; and an interview with famous performance artist, Marina Abramović, conducted by The New Yorker writer Ariel Levy. Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) is Executive Producer, joined by Dave Snyder (Death Row Stories) and Dawn Ostroff (The Fashion Fund). The pilot is co-produced by Condé Nast Entertainment and Jigsaw Productions.
Point Of Honor
At the start of the Civil War, a Virginia family, led by their West Point bred son, John Rhodes (played by Nathan Parsons, True Blood), makes the controversial decision to defend the South while freeing all of their slaves. At battle against his northern brethren and his best friend and brother-in-law Robert Sumner (played by Christopher O’Shea, Baby Daddy), John leaves his three strong-willed sisters at home to run the plantation that is now without a free labor source. The choice to protect the life they have always known and defend the moral high ground will pit the family against one another and test their strength, courage and love. An hour-long drama shot entirely on-location in historic Virginia, Point of Honor also stars Annabelle Stephenson (Revenge) as Kate Rhodes, Riley Voelkel (The Newsroom) as Lorelei Rhodes, Hanna Mangan Lawrence (Old School) as Estella Rhodes, Patrick Heusinger (Revolution) as Colonel Palmer Kane, Luke Benward (Ravenswood) as Garland Rhodes, Adrienne Warren (Black Box) as Abby, Lucien Laviscount (Waterloo Road) as Elijah, and James Harvey Ward (Low Winter Sun)as Cutler. The pilot is directed by Randall Wallace (Braveheart), written by Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Wallace, and Executive Produced by Cuse, Wallace and Barry Jossen (Sex and the City). Point of Honor is being co-produced with ABC Signature Studios.
In this half-hour comedy, Leslie Bibb (About a Boy) plays Salem Rogers, an overly confident, outrageously blunt, and hard-partying former supermodel who is forced to face her past and re-enter the real world after ten years in a posh rehab center. Intent on recreating her glamorous lifestyle and modeling success, she tracks down Agatha (played by Rachel Dratch, Saturday Night Live), her former assistant who has since built a career as an author of self-help books to help her win back the spotlight. Salem Rogers also stars Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle), Brad Morris (Playing House), Harry Hamlin (Mad Men), Toks Olagundoye (The Neighbors), Brad Morris (Cougar Town) and Scott Adsit (30 Rock). The pilot is written by newcomer Lindsey Stoddart, Executive Produced by Will Graham (The Onion News Network) and directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls). Salem Rogers was submitted as part of the studio’s online screenplay submission process.