Woody Allen to create show for Amazon on heels of 'Transparent' success

Julie Westfall and Meredith Blake
Los Angeles Times (TNS)

Woody Allen will write and direct his first television series for Amazon, the company announced on Tuesday in a statement.

The half-hour series, which has been ordered for a full season, will be available for Amazon Prime Instant Video customers.

Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios, called Allen a “visionary creator” in the statement and Allen said: “I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin. My guess is that Roy Price will regret this.”

The web giant has been in the midst of a push for original-series productions. Amazon’s series “Transparent” won the Golden Globe for comedy or musical television series on Sunday.

Though he is best known as the writer, director and sometimes star of films including “Annie Hall,” “Midnight in Paris” and “Hannah and Her Sisters,” four-time Oscar-winner Allen began his career in television as a writer on “The Sid Caesar Show.”

He joins an ever-growing list of feature film talent migrating to the medium known as television — both the kind broadcast through actual television sets and the digitally distributed variety.

Indie pioneer Steven Soderbergh directed the entire 10-episode first season of the Cinemax series “The Knick,” which will return to the pay cable network later this year. He is also executive producer of the upcoming Amazon series “Red Oaks,” directed by Sundance favorite David Gordon Green.

Meanwhile David Lynch, whose last film “Inland Empire” received a limited release in 2006, will revive his cult series “Twin Peaks” for Showtime next year.

The ultimate New Yorker went abroad for this 2008 comedy of manners, to Spain, home of co-stars Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, taking with him Americans Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall. The movie made $23.3 million, and earned a host of awards, including best supporting actress for Cruz.

Though the prolific Allen has continued making films at an enviable pace of one to two a year, he’s often had to turn to international sources of finance, requiring him to move beyond his beloved New York City for settings like Barcelona, Spain; Rome; and London.

Still, it’s an odd pairing. Allen is an unrepentant Luddite who still bangs out screenplays on a manual typewriter, while Amazon has since its founding in 1994 radically disrupted traditional book publishing and presented a serious threat to brick-and-mortar retailers of all kinds.

And following the success of “Transparent,” easily one of last year’s most praised new series, Amazon is considered a major upstart in the world of television, nipping at the heels of online content provider Netflix as well as “prestige TV” outlets like HBO.

The Amazon deal also marks a professional triumph for Allen, who found himself once again at the center of controversy in 2014 when estranged daughter Dylan Farrow revived claims he sexually molested her as a child in an op-ed in the New York Times.

Though Cate Blanchett won an Oscar for her role in Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” in March, his latest film “Magic in the Moonlight,” released in July, was a critical and commercial disappointment.





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