Amazon is set to unleash another batch of pilot episodes on the world to see which will make the cut to be added to Amazon Instant Video.
While traditional television has a pilot season, it is reserved for being shown to executives at the networks, focus groups and key critics. It’s a very closed circuit system that allows a very small number of people to decide what all of us should be watching. Amazon decided to shake all of that up by putting its pilots up for anyone to watch, and then the feedback from those viewings helps the company decide which ones should move on to a series. While you could call it a way for Amazon to drum up some exposure, it has also publically passed on some high profile projects such as Zombieland, so it feels as though this system is truly used as advertised.
With that in mind, Amazon is back with another five series of shows it wants all of us to sample beginning on Aug. 28 in the U.S. and the U.K. You can read the descriptions for each show below, but it is clear that Amazon is not messing around when it comes in some truly talented actors and writers to produce its original content.
Which shows will make it to a full series order? No one knows, but put Ron Perlman in anything and I’ll watch it, so I’ll be checking out Hand of God for sure.
Written, directed and produced by Academy Award nominee Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Barcelona, The Last Days of Disco), 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.” The pilot was filmed on location in Paris.
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 Golden Globe winner 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,” Garret Dillahunt as “KD,” the born-again sociopath whose violent tendencies are exploited by Pernell, Andre Royo as the slick, smart, gregarious, and greedy mayor “Robert ‘Bobo’ Boston,” Alona Tal as Pernell’s grieving daughter-in-law “Jocelyn Harris,” Julian Morris as the questionable preacher “Paul Curtis,” Elizabeth McLaughlin as the preacher’s sultry girlfriend “Alicia,” and Emayatzy Corinealdi as Pernell’s call girl and confidante “Tessie.” The show centers on the powerful Judge 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. Forster, Watkins, Perlman, Brian Wilkins and Jeff King are Executive Producers, and Jillian Kugler is co-Executive Producer.
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. The show also stars James McDaniel (Orange Is The New Black) as “Carl Sapsi,” Josh Stewart (The Dark Knight Rises) as “Ray Ratajeck,” Adan Canto (X-Men: Days of Future Past) as “Matt Sanchez,” Laura San Giacomo (Saving Grace) as “Grace Pelayo” and T.R. Knight (Grey’s Anatomy) as “Carter Harlen.” The show is written by Cassidy, who is also Executive Producer alongside Adam Schroeder, Sharon Hall, Andrew Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Bryan Zuriff, and Bathurst. In addition to Suvari, McDaniel, Stewart, Canto, San Giacomo and Knight, Hysteria also stars Ella Rae Peck and Jenessa Grant. Pilot guest stars include Jason Douglas, Heather Kafka, Asjha Cooper, and Evie Thompson. Amazon Studios is collaborating with Universal Television and Alcon Television Group on the production of Hysteria.
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. Really explores marriage, friendship and the stifling peculiarities of suburban Chicago life. The pilot also stars Selma Blair, Travis Schuldt, Hayes MacArthur, Collette Wolfe, Luka Jones, Lindsay Sloane and Rob Delaney. Really comes from Main Street Films’ Craig Chang and Harrison Kordestani, and Executive Producer Jamie Tarses (Happy Endings).
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 colorful 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 “go-go” 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. Red Oaks also stars Jennifer Grey (It’s Like, You Know) as “Judy Myers,” Richard Kind (Luck) as “Sam Myers,” Oliver Cooper (Californication) as “Wheeler,” Gage Golightly as “Karen,” and Ennis Esmer as “Nash.” Red Oaks is written by Gregory Jacobs (The Knick) and Joe Gangemi (Eliza Graves). Soderbergh, Green, Jacobs, and Gangemi are Executive Producers.