Fresh off winning a Golden Globe for its groundbreaking series “Transparent,” Amazon Studios has inked a deal, announced Tuesday, for Woody Allen to write and direct his first-ever television series.
To land Allen, Amazon Studios discarded its standard strategy of buying only a series pilot for its streaming service, Amazon Prime Instant Video, and gauging audience reaction before funding a full season of episodes. In this case, Amazon Studio ordered a full season of episodes.
“Woody Allen is a visionary creator who has made some of the greatest films of all time, and it’s an honor to be working with him on his first television series,” Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios, said in a statement.
The new series, which Amazon is simply calling “Untitled Woody Allen Project,” will debut on Prime Instant Video next year, the company said. In a statement, Allen said he wasn’t sure what the show would be or how he would even conceive it.
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“I don’t know how I got into this,” Allen said in the statement. “I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin. My guess is that Roy Price will regret this.”
Apparently, Allen wasn’t shopping a series. The New York Times reported that he hasn’t pitched a series to Netflix or Hulu, two of Amazon’s biggest competitors in serialized television production and video streaming.
Allen is the biggest name among a stable of Hollywood’s creative talent producing shows for Amazon Studios. Two years ago, Amazon inked a deal with “Doonesbury” cartoonist Garry Trudeau to make “Alpha House,” a political comedy. “Blade Runner” director Ridley Scott is producing “The Man in the High Castle,” based on the Philip K. Dick novel.
And on Sunday, “Transparent,” the story of a father who gradually lets his children know he identifies as a woman, won Golden Globes for best TV series, musical or comedy, and for Jeffery Tambor as best actor in a TV series, musical or comedy. That show was created by Jill Soloway, who also produced and wrote HBO’s “Six Feet Under.”
The deal with Allen, 79, isn’t without risk. A year ago, his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, wrote an open letter in The New York Times that accused Allen of sexually molesting her as a child. Allen denied the allegations in his own bylined article in the paper.
Regardless, the deal is part of Amazon’s ambitious efforts to come up with exclusive, original programming that draws customers to its Prime Instant Video service. In Amazon’s quarterly conference call with analysts last July, Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak said the company planned to spend $100 million on original series in the third quarter alone.
Prime Instant Video is included in the company’s $99-a-year Prime service, which offers two-day shipping at no extra charge. The company is keen to lure more customers to Prime for a simple reason: Prime members are Amazon’s best customers, spending three times as much as non-Prime shoppers, according to some analyst estimates.
Woody Allen, like Garry Trudeau and Jill Soloway before him, is a means to that end.