Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Woody Allen is coming to TV

So when I say that sooner or later EVERYONE in features comes to television, it turns out I’m right. Woody Allen has signed with Amazon to create a series that he will write and direct. He will bypass the Amazon pilot process where contenders are available for viewer reaction and comment.  His project will go straight to series.

Yeah, can you imagine some of the comments he'd receive? “Child molester!” “Hasn’t made a decent movie in years!” and worse: “Who’s Woody Allen?”

So what is Allen’s new series about? In the press release he said he had no ideas or even how to begin.   That's my dream pitch meeting.

I am assuming he’ll have complete creative control. Although, wouldn’t it be fun if he didn’t? I would sure love to be in the room when the Amazon junior executive gave Woody Allen notes.

“We are a little concerned that your leading man is 70 and his love interest is 20. And we’re sure it’s just an oversight, but the plot is pretty much the same as six of your movies. We also worry that setting the series in Paris, Venice, and New York could be a little pricey. We don’t want to tamper with your vision and so we’ve come up with the perfect solution. Instead of going to those cities, shoot the whole thing in Las Vegas. Same cities but all on the same block. Also, this is awkward but… we all read the script and everyone had the same reaction – didn’t he used to be funnier? Any chance you could punch it up a little? And it was sort of hard to follow on the page because all of the characters sounded the same. Could they all not be angst ridden neurotics?  Oh -- last thing:  We also think it would be helpful if you could submit written outlines for all your stories.  I'm sure we'll approve most of them.  Well, that's it.  We’re very excited.”

The truth is I’m sure Amazon doesn’t give a shit what he gives them. They’ve gotten what they want out of the deal – the prestige. Between this and TRANSPARENT, they’re really building a name for themselves. If Woody Allen comes in with something decent that’s just a plus. Or if he comes in with something at all. Let’s see if this actually happens.

Personally, I hope it does. I’d love to see what he does. (SHADOWS AND FOG: THE SITCOM? Just a thought.)


gottacook said...

If all Amazon does is force him to choose a different typeface for the title and credits, that will be progress right there. But I'm not optimistic. (All his movies starting with Annie Hall use the same one, except for the opening title of Manhattan where an illuminated sign is used.) See

Bill O said...

It's not like he hasn't done tv - writing for Sid Caesar, doing stand-up. And including a segment in one of his films on the popular game/reality show, "What's My Perversion?".

Bill O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hamid said...

He should do MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY: THE SERIES. Every episode, a neurotic detective played by Woody investigates a murder mystery in Manhattan. Helping him in his investigations is his lovely blonde 20 year old assistant (OK, I'm basically copying Ken's joke).

I'd love to see MIDNIGHT IN PARIS sequelized in series form. Call it MIDNIGHT IN... and every week the lead character travels back in time to a different city. MIDNIGHT IN LONDON in 1888 chasing Jack the Ripper, MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW during the 1917 revolutions, and MIDNIGHT IN BIRMINGHAM AL., where he gets into an argument with the locals who don't believe in evolution and think the universe is 7000 years old, only to discover to his horror he's still in 2015.

Matthew said...

Wow, Midnight in Paris looks really good! I might have to...

" the film stars Owen Wilson"

Damn. Guess not then. He's one of those actors (DiCaprio is the other) who completely poisons a movie for me.

VP81955 said...

How about adapting "The Purple Rose Of Cairo" into a series...with the twist that the heroine remains in the 1935 movie world she briefly inhabits?

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

I will imagine it will be like NY Stories. Just quick unrelated short stores.

Some will be humorous. Some will be dramedy. Some will be dreck.

And everyone will line up to be in an episode.

ScottyB said...

Ken Levine wrote: "The truth is I’m sure Amazon doesn’t give a shit what he gives them. They’ve gotten what they want out of the deal – the prestige."

Which is why this whole thing would be even more interesting if Woody was charged with making a *network* TV show.

But at the end of the day, Ken's right. It's not going to matter much. Get a pile of cash dropped into your lap with nothing more than "We dunno, either. Just come up with something, anything", and you know damn well a show about nothing more than Woody talking to himself while taking a shit every week would sell.

Heyyyyy, wait a minute! That's it!!! You're welcome, Woody. Feel free to send me a check if you're so inclined.

ScottyB said...

I'm pretty sure that whatever Woody does come up with will involve a lot of introspective whining, insecurities, and guilt.

It's the New York Jewish way. Somehow it endures, at least until everyone who grew up there before 1962 is dead.

Phillip B said...

Friday question -

On recent trips I've seen advertisements for several stage productions of old television comedies - Fawlty Towers, Addams Family and I Love Lucy among them.
Is this a trend or merely a burst of nostalgia?

Scooter Schechtman said...

There's no garbage here because they turn it into television shows."

Woody Allen, "Annie Hall"

Terrence Moss said...

I was more excited about John Goodman doing a series for them. This seems unnecessarily desperate on Amazon's part.

gottacook said...

Observation: If the "musical" Bullets over Broadway had succeeded, we wouldn't be hearing about any Allen/Amazon deal. (But it was sheer hubris to think people would pay Broadway ticket prices for a new musical with no original music.)

Prediction: Diane Keaton will guest-direct an episode.

Hope: "The Kugelmass Episode" will be adapted. I'd love to see the verb tener chasing Kugelmass at the end.

Kate Coe said...

Scorsese has said that he wanted to make a film in every genre. I wish he'd do an Amazon series.

Chris G said...

The two Amazon shows I've watched, Alpha House and Mozart in the Jungle, have both been really solid, enjoyable shows.

blinky said...

Hey Ken, You have such brilliant comic insight into the entertainment world's bullshit. Why the hell don't you develop an Episodes type show for, say, Amazon or Paypal? Seriously!
The premise could be about an ex-comedy writer who now has a blog and one of the reader comments gives him the idea to do this show skewering Hollywood. He gets the deal but the the Paypal execs don't like all the jokes about them...

normadesmond said...

maybe he'll write a show for cosby.

Johnny Walker said...

70? That's a typo alright, the leading man is 79! (However, the leading lady is still 20.)

Let's be honest, after studying Allen and his work fairly extensively, I feel we can be pretty certain it will have an argument at its core that all life is horrible, and everyone is miserable all of the time (except for those few "moments" he talks about in Manhattan). But the argument will go over most viewer's heads simply because they, and everyone they know, aren't as cold and miserable as Allen. In fact, very few people are.

Allen has always gone where the work is. When the money dried up in the US, he found it in London. When that dried up, Spain. Luckily those trips managed to revitalise his career, and the money came back in the US... I wonder if it's dried up again, and that's why he's taken this Amazon deal?

Still, one a good day, he certainly knows how to write good stories with strong characters. The question is if we really need another LOUIE on the air... but with fewer jokes?

DBenson said...

For some reason I recall Doonesbury's update on 60s rock icon Jerry Thudpucker: He was very excited about getting into ringtones.

YEKIMI said...

Didn't Amazon used to be the place where you could get stuff waaaaaay cheaper than almost any other place? Ordered a few things off them for the first time in a couple of years, what with the shipping charges and stuff, it would have been cheaper for me to drive the 30 miles to get what I needed. Now I know where all my money is going...for them to make crappy "TV" shows. Waiting for them to announce that if you spend X amount of money you can get a shot as a "special guest star" on one of their shows.

Ben K. said...

Since he says he doesn't have any good ideas for the series, here are a few concepts:

“Play It Again, Sam”:
A shy young television fan is coached in the art of seducing women by the ghost of Sam Malone.

“Granny Hall”:
Diane Keaton plays a wacky Midwestern WASP who has become the guardian of her 12 grandchildren, all of whom are bespectacled, neurotic nerds.

A reality competition in which the world’s best bartenders vie to make the tastiest mixed drink.

“Blue Jasmine”:
A neurotic New Yorker is annoyed when he orders the “Blue Jasmine” vase for his beautiful WASPy girlfriend, but receives the “Green Jasmine” model instead. Many humorous misunderstandings ensue between him and Amazon’s customer-service department.

emily said...


Bring back the Orgasmatron.

Thank you.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Yekmi: There are many things to dislike about Amazon, but the quality of the TV shows it has started to make is not one of them. TRANSPARENT is excellent by any standard. ALPHA House is at least very good.


Alvy Stinker said...

"Shadows and Fog" wasn't that bad! How does a guy do "September," "Another Woman," "Alice" and "Shadows and Fog" in five years' time, and "Shadows and Fog" always gets picked as the lousy one?

gottacook said...

Alvy: I saw Shadows and Fog in the theater and yes, it was that bad. Obviously a fallow period for Allen, as he had to resort to adapting one of his plays from Without Feathers and it turned out about one-fiftieth as funny. Another Woman was at least thought-provoking, but then I also liked Interiors (more in 1978 than today, though).

James said...

That sounds just like AMAZING STORIES when that was announced in the early 80s.

Rob in Toronto said...

Gottacook, have you never heard of Mamma Mia!, Rock of Ages or Jersey Boys ?

mmryan314 said...

Wendy G- I cannot wait to watch Transparent on Amazon. My youngish daughter loves Maura and I had the good fortune to have attended Jeff Tambor`s plays when he performed at the Milwaukee Rep. I`ve followed his career since the early 70`s. And... I catch the CAPTCHA every time. Captcha Karma.

Doug said...

"But it was sheer hubris to think people would pay Broadway ticket prices for a new musical with no original music"

A partial list:


Million Dollar Quartet

Mama Mia!

Motown: The Musical

Jersey Boys

Ain't Misbehavin

Smokey Joe's Cafe

We Will Rock You

Movin' Out

Rock of Ages

American Idiot

Beautiful:The Carole King Musical

gottacook said...

Jeez. Of course I know about so-called "jukebox musicals" where a plot is strung upon a bunch of songs that were pop hits of relatively recent vintage (heard on the radio, etc.) by the audience earlier in their lives. But Bullets was nothing of the kind - it was a period piece with much older songs, which might have worked if the story had been new to modern audiences (such as the Tony-winning Crazy for You, an adaptation of an old Gershwin brothers musical, on which Bullets director Susan Stroman had been the choreographer). But they tried to take the same approach while adapting a relatively recent nonmusical movie. None of those jukebox musicals was based on a movie; the few successful musical adaptations of movies have been those that featured really good new songs (e.g., Hairspray) or were musicals to begin with (Victor/Victoria, animated Disneys, etc.).

Buttermilk Sky said...

The only thing in "Shadows and Fog" that made me laugh was the Julie Kavner scene. Let's hope his series involves her.

bill said...

"Hasn't made a good movie in years."

Really? Blue Jasmine (didn't someone win a best actress award), Midnight in Paris. Both were fairly brilliant films.

"80 year old protagonist" I think the last time Woody was a romantic lead in any of his films was at least 12 years ago.

Every time I come to ken's blog and the subject is either Woody Allen or anything that takes place in Manhattan, I always go Uh-oh. More east coast bashing. More woody allen bashing.

Personally, I always find it a low point on this otherwise fine blog. It always seems like such transparent jealousy.

Touch-and-go Bullethead said...

Okay, explain something to me. Why are so many of you assuming that the latest project from a man who has never made a sequel (in dozens of films) is going to be a sequel?

Well, actually, I do have an explanation for that--none of you can actually come up with an original idea, but you are covering that by projecting your own inability onto the person you are making jokes about--but I suppose you could have some other reason. If so, please give it.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Maybe every episode is just 22 minutes of him cashing checks? Y'know, most people don't cash checks anymore, so a camera would follow Woody around as he goes from bank to bank, maybe a couple of liquor stores, as he cashes checks and he converses with those around him (or awkwardly doesn't). This way, young people today could see what it's like to cash checks.

Stephen Robinson said...

I think many comedians with few exceptions start to appeal less to me as they become more famous because their world is less connected to any reality we inhabit. So their work becomes about the stress of being rich and famous.

My personal exception to this is Seinfeld and Chris Rock because the former's observational and the latter's relationship humor bridges that divide.

I appreciate that people like Allen's recent work (Match Point, Midnight in Paris, Blue Jasmine) but I find that the people don't talk or act like real people but Allen's memories of real people when he socialized with them.

And also personally, I think his dismissal of comedy as a form is why he will never produce a great drama. INTERIORS and SEPTEMBER and his other dramas involve dull ponderous people who are always serious and don't dare joke, which is not reality. There was more serious drama and effective character in CHEERS.

And there are great laughs in GLEN GARRY GLEN ROSS and GOODFELLAS. I'd argue that Scorsese's best work makes me laugh more than Allen's at times.