Amazon’s latest round of pilots for original TV shows will premiere on Thursday 28th August, including talent ranging from Whit Stillman and Steven Soderbergh to Ron Perlman, Adam Brody, Chloë Sevigny and David Gordon Green.
After its second batch of dramatic shows and kids’ series, the retailer’s third collection will change pace once again, offering a taste of three half-hour comedies and two hour-long thrillers. Each show will be available for customers and non-customers to view and rate, with their feedback used to determine which will be commissioned into full series.
The pilots will visit modern day Paris, step into the world of a vigilante who has visions from God, follow along as a psycho-physiological illness tears apart a town, explore the complexities of marriage, and take a trip to a country club in 1980’s New Jersey.
Amazon’s commitment to its open pilot and production process continues to mark it out from other video on-demand services – a strategy that it is evidently pleased with after two previous runs. Indeed, the approach has now started to attract bigger and bigger names on board, with stars and creators as diverse as Whit Stillman, Ron Perlman and Marc Forster on board, as well as giving a platform for upcoming talent, such as Submarine’s Craig Roberts and the BAFTA-winning director of BBC’s Peaky Blinders.
Speaking exclusively to VODzilla.co about his pilot for Soderbergh-produced sitcom Red Oaks, director David Gordon Green said: “It seems like a really good operation over there, really cool executives letting us do our thing. I had a lot of fun making the pilot.”
“Tonally, you can blur the line between comedy and drama a lot more when you don’t have a test screening audience telling you what’s funny, you know?” he added.
“You can go sensitive and subtle, you can go with letting a moment breathe. Especially with Amazon, where it doesn’t have to be 28 minutes and 30 seconds an episode. There’s no reason it can’t be 31 minutes.”
In April, Amazon decided to green light six series: Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, Bosch, The After, and kids series Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street and Wishenpoof!. (Read our verdict on those batch of pilots here.)
Here is what you can expect from Amazon’s third pilot season:
Written, directed and produced by Academy Award nominee Whit Stillman, The Cosmopolitans follows a group of young American expatriates in contemporary Paris searching for love and friendship in a foreign city. The romantic comedy pilot stars Adam Brody as “Jimmy,” Chloë Sevigny as “Vicky,” Carrie MacLemore as “Aubrey,” Dree Hemingway as “Camille,” Freddy Åsblom as “Fritz,” Jordan Rountree as “Hal,” and Adriano Giannini as “Sandro.”
Hand of God
Marking the television debut of renowned filmmaker Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, World War Z) and written by Ben Watkins, Hand of God stars Ron Perlman in his first lead television role since Sons of Anarchy as “Judge Pernell Harris.” Hand of God also stars Dana Delany as the Judge’s protective wife “Crystal Harris,” and Garret Dillahunt as “KD,” the born-again sociopath whose violent tendencies are exploited by Pernell.
The show centres on the powerful Harris, a hard-living, law-bending married man with a high-end call girl on the side, who suffers a mental breakdown and goes on a vigilante quest to find the rapist who tore his family apart. With no real evidence to go on, Pernell begins to rely on “visions” and “messages” he believes are being sent by God through Pernell’s ventilator-bound son.
Hysteria takes viewers to Austin, Texas where social connection has become contagious. In the pilot, members of a girls’ competitive dance team are stricken with a strange, psycho-physiological illness that manifests itself in violent fits and spasms and then begins spreading in the community through technology. Neurologist Logan Harlen (played by Mena Suvari) returns to her hometown to investigate the cause. Fighting her own demons and the growing manipulation of a brother on death row, Logan develops an uneasy suspicion that the hysteria surrounding the girls might actually be linked to social media and her own tragic past.
Hysteria is written by Shaun Cassidy, who is known for genre thrillers such as Invasion and American Gothic, and directed by Otto Bathurst, who won the BAFTA Award for his work on the critically-acclaimed U.K. mini-series Peaky Blinders.
Written, directed and starring Jay Chandrasekhar, Really is a funny, extremely, honest behind-the-curtain look at the complexities of marriage and the charged dynamics of a tight-knit group of friends. The show is about four hard-charging suburban Chicago couples trying to grasp on-to their dwindling youth. At the center are the happily but messily married couple “Jed,” played by Chandrasekhar, and “Lori,” played by Sarah Chalke. When Jed is faced with the choice of keeping his pal’s secret or destroying his friend group, he winds up digging himself into a very deep hole. The pilot also stars Selma Blair.
Directed by Sundance award-winner David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Eastbound and Down) and produced by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh (Behind the Candelabra, Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven), Red Oaks stars Craig Roberts (Submarine) as “David Myers,” an assistant tennis pro at the Red Oaks Country Club in suburban New Jersey in 1985, who is both reeling from his father’s heart attack and conflicted about what major to declare in the fall.
While there, he meets a colourful cast of misfit co-workers and wealthy club members including an alluring art student named “Skye” (played by guest star Alexandra Socha) and her corporate raider father “Getty”, played by Paul Reiser (Mad About You). A coming-of-age comedy set in the 80s that is equal parts hijinks and heartfelt, Red Oaks is about enjoying a last hurrah before summer comes to an end—and the future begins. Soderbergh, Green, Jacobs, and Gangemi are Executive Producers.