Amazon talks Woody Allen series, controversy and cancellations
James R | On 04, Aug 2015
Amazon has confirmed that Woody Allen’s TV series is almost written, but also faced tough questions on its controversial new signing.
Speaking at the TCA press event yesterday, Amazon Studios boss Roy Price revealed the release dates of its upcoming original slate, from Transparent Season 2 to The Man in the High Castle. He also announced that Woody Allen’s show would premiere in the second half of 2016.
But there were more awkward questions in the offing, as journalists pressed him on Woody Allen’s controversial personal life. Price kept his answer firmly centred on the director’s professional life.
“You know, Woody Allen is one of the greatest filmmakers America has ever produced, and… people are going to be talking about Woody’s films for a long, long time,” Price replied. “And I think when we talk about what would be a great inspiration for a show, a lot of Woody Allen films kept coming up, with Annie Hall or what have you. And so then we just thought, ‘Well, what if we actually asked Woody Allen himself to do a show?’ And so I think that was really our focus.”
When grilled, Price added: “I think you have to look at the whole picture but — yeah, take everything into account, but our focus is on the fact that he is a great filmmaker and storyteller.”
Allen has made no secret of his own struggles with the TV format. Initially, he quipped when the show was announced by Amazon that wasn’t sure how he got into it and had “no ideas”, but that became something more serious as time went on. More recently, Woody told Deadline that he “regretted every second” since he said OK.
“It’s been so hard for me. I had the cocky confidence, well, I’ll do it like I do a movie… it’ll be a movie in six parts. Turns out, it’s not. For me, it has been very, very difficult.”
The scripts, though, are now “just about done”, said Price.
Controversy is still being courted by Amazon, though, in another circle: its recent signing of the Top Gear trio to make a new car series. The presenters, led by Jeremy Clarkson, have become famous for the programme’s ability to prompt complaints from viewers.
“There is a lot to focus on other than that,” commented Price, when asked whether they had considered that.
The final questions in a press Q&A brought up one other Amazon show, which caused the opposite of controversy by disappearing off the radar entirely: The After. Chris Carter’s high-concept sci-fi was part of Amazon’s first batch of dramatic pilots and was commissioned as a full series, only to be cancelled later.
“Not everything works out,” admitted Price, but didn’t give many further details. “It wasn’t the money,” he added. “It was a tough concept, and hard to crack. Who knows, maybe it will come together one day?”
With all the clamour around the Top Gear deal, Woody Allen and the return of Transparent following its awards success, Amazon continues to move on from such scrapped projects, looking firmly ahead. Do the team, though, ever look sideways at its competition. Price played down the idea.
“If someone told me, ‘Netflix is doing a show about, you know, a fire department or something,’ then, like, I don’t know. What we do with that information?” he answered. “Like, nothing.”