Amazon searches for a sitcom, unveils six series ideas

Amazon will post the pilots to get feedback from viewers

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
December 20, 2012
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A few months ago, Amazon revealed its aim to get in on some original programming action.  It’s been Netflix’s rising-from-the-ashes-of-Apocaflix-2011 strategy, and Hulu revealed 10 new shows made exclusively for its platform earlier this year.  Original programming is obviously the way to go now that more people than ever are streaming Web video onto their TVs.

Amazon Studios—Amazon’s production arm—is putting an interesting crowdsourced angle on it, though.  The company announced Thursday that it’s going to create pilots for six new comedy series, and viewer feedback will determine which series gets produced.

This marks the first time that Amazon Studios will be producing its own pilots—and it’s very different from what Amazon’s been doing with its film business, since Amazon is actually making the shows and distributing them through its own platform, rather than simply ferretting its favorite scripts to Warner Brothers.  The pilots will be posted to Amazon Instant Video, where viewers will be able to watch and comment on them, and the series that gets produced will be available exclusively to Prime members via Prime Instant Video or Lovefilm in the UK for free.

The writers behind the pilots might be pretty familiar to most people.  The pilots include:

Alpha House, written by Academy Award nominee and Pulitzer-Prize winner Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury and Tanner ’88, which follows the story of four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington DC.

Browsers, written by David Javerbaum of The Daily Show and directed by Don Scardino of 30 Rock, is a musical comedy about four young people in contemporary Manhattan who are starting their first jobs at a news website.

Dark Minions, written by Big Bang Theory co-stars Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie, is an animated workplace series about a couple of slackers on an intergalactic warship.  The pilot will be produced by Principato-Young of Reno 911.  (Note: this sounds awesome.)

The Onion Presents: The News is a scripted comedy that looks behind the scenes at the Onion News Network.

Supernatural, which will be produced by Jason Micallef of Butter and Kristen Schaal of The Daily Show, is an animated comedy about two divas who are mankind’s only hope against the supernatural.

Those Who Can’t is about three immature teachers who are just as juvenile as the students they teach.  The writers, Andrew Orvedahl, Adam Cayton-Holland and Benjamin Roy, were discovered through Amazon Studios online open door process.

An Amazon spokesperson tells me that the pilots will go into production immediately, but it’s too early to say when they’ll be posted to Amazon Instant Video.

“Since launching our original series development effort, we have received more than 2,000 series ideas from creators around the world with all different backgrounds, and we are extremely excited to begin production on our very first set of pilots,” said Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios, in a statement.


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