Amazon Orders Original Programming for Subscription Service

Amazon has ordered two live-action comedies and three children’s shows to be offered on its subscription service Amazon Prime. The original programming was selected from 14 pilots the company made available to subscribers last month, from which customer reactions helped guide the selection process. The new series include a political comedy starring John Goodman and a show about a group of friends looking to launch the next social networking app.

“Goodman, well known from shows like ‘Roseanne’ and movies like ‘Argo,’ will star in the most high-profile of the new shows, ‘Alpha House,’ about four unruly Republican senators sharing a house in Washington,” reports The New York Times.

“It was created by Garry Trudeau of ‘Doonesbury,’ and the pilot features a host of cameos from people like Bill Murray and Jon Stewart. It was a prohibitive favorite to win a series order from the moment Amazon started making the pilots available.”

The other live-action comedy pilot to go into production is “Betas,” which centers on four friends looking to cash in on the Internet by creating a new social networking app.

Among those for which Amazon passed include the “Onion News Empire” starring Jeffrey Tambor, Web-based musical “Browsers” with Bebe Neuwirth, and an adaptation of the film “Zombieland.”

According to Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, the live-action comedies will have similar budgets to traditional network comedies. “If you look at the budget of premium cable half-hour shows, these would be right on that mix,” he said.

Amazon has ordered 10 episodes each of “Alpha House” and “Betas,” expected to be available late this year or early 2014. However, Amazon has not committed to the Netflix model of releasing an entire series at one time. “We could start with a few and then roll out the others,” suggested Price.

As previously reported on ETCentric, Amazon has 24 movies on its development slate that it also plans to test with audiences.

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