Ridley Scott, Alex Gibney, Shawn Ryan and Rufus Sewell are all joining Amazon’s new line-up of TV pilots for 2015.
The fourth season of Amazon’s pilots, which will arrive early next year, will feature a record seven TV series, from hour-long dark comedies and sci-fi to half-hour documentaries.
Pilot episodes include a close-up look at a family torn apart by the start of the Civil War in Virginia and a satire of new age yoga culture in West Los Angeles, each coming from familiar creative names in the industry, such as Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files), Carlton Cuse (Lost), Randall Wallace (Braveheart), Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), Shawn Ryan (The Shield), Robin Schiff (Are You There, Chelsea?), newcomer Lindsey Stoddart, and Alex Gibney (The Armstrong Lie).
The talent in front of the camera also remains eye-catching, with stars including Rufus Sewell, Kris Kristoffersen, Jason Lee, Michael Imperioli, Leslie Bibb and Brian Dennehy.
For all the diverse genres, though, perhaps most interesting is The New Yorker Presents, Amazon’s first docu-series pilot. The New Yorker Presents will bring the pages of Americas most award-winning magazine to life. Doesn’t sound thrilling? The show will be Exec-produced by Alex Gibney, who has established himself as arguably the best documentary filmmaker around today, tackling big issue after big issue (from Enron and Wikileaks to Lance Armstrong and child abuse in the Catholic church).
For the uninitiated, Amazon’s pilot system continues to follow its idiosyncratic approach of inviting viewers to watch and rate the programmes – feedback that will then be used to decide which to turn into full series.
“Our first pilot season of 2015 brings some of the greatest storytellers in the business to Amazon customers with works of novelty and passion. We’re very excited by these shows and look forward to getting customers reactions next year,” says Roy Price, Vice President, Amazon Studios.
Here’s what we know about each of the pilots:
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 familys gun businessone of the oldest in the country. But no good deed goes unpunished. Older brother Grady Paxson, played by Jason Lee (My Name is Earl), whos a bachelor, playboy and gun aficionado, isnt so happy to have him back, and Richards 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 mums 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 Snickets 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 friendsa mixture of single, married and recently divorcedwho 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 realise 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
Americas 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 Abramoviã, 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 OShea, 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 glamourous 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 studios online screenplay submission process.