Woody Allen to make first TV series for Amazon Prime

 

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‘I’m not sure where to begin,’ says 79-year-old Oscar-winner about his small screen debut, as streaming TV service seeks to gain march on rivals with exclusive content

Comment: in signing Woody Allen, Amazon Prime has delivered a nuclear blast to the competition

Woody Allen is to write and direct his first television series for Amazon’s video-on-demand service.

The 79-year-old film-maker has been signed up to make a full season of the as-yet-untitled series for Amazon Prime. It is the Oscar-winner’s debut TV project after more than 40 films in a career spanning more than half a century.

Allen joked: “I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin.”

Amazon’s streaming TV service, Amazon Prime, won plaudits for its transgender comedy drama Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor, which was a double Golden Globe winner earlier this week.

Now it has turned to the veteran writer and director of Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters and, more recently, Blue Jasmine, as it looks to up the ante in its battle with online rivals such as House of Cards maker Netflix.

Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios, said: “From Annie Hall to Blue Jasmine, Woody has been at the creative forefront of American cinema and we couldn’t be more excited to premiere his first TV series exclusively on Prime Instant Video next year.”

Allen added: “My guess is that Roy Price will regret this.”

Little is known about the project beyond that it will be written and directed by Allen, and will be in 30-minute episodes.

It will be available to subscribers to the Amazon TV service in the US, UK and Germany and is expected to be available in 2016. It remains to be seen if Allen will also be in it.

Allen is not a complete stranger to television, having written early in his career for Ed Sullivan and the Tonight Show.

Allen is the latest film-maker to swap the big screen for the small. Others include Steven Soderbergh and David Fincher, who directed the first two episodes of Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards for Netflix and is now making Utopia for US cable channel HBO, which has launched its own on-demand service.

David Lynch, who swapped film for TV in the early 1990s with Twin Peaks, will resurrect the groundbreaking drama for another US channel, Showtime, next year.

Allen, whose latest film, Magic in the Moonlight, failed to repeat the plaudits for Blue Jasmine, has made a virtue out of trying to make a film every year. His latest as-yet-untitled film is set in Rhode Island and will star Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone.

Allen’s film career stumbled in the early 2000s, with a string of flops including Curse of the Jade Scorpion and Cassandra’s Dream.

It has become something of a tradition in more recent years for critics to greet each new film as a “return to form”, though 2013’s Blue Jasmine appeared to be the real thing, earning Allen an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay and an Oscar win for its star, Cate Blanchett.

Last year Allen was publicly challenged by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow that he had sexually molested her, claims first levelled by his former partner Mia Farrow in the early 1990s. Allen rejected the accusation, saying a previous police investigation had cleared him.

Talking to the Observer last year after the release of his latest film, Magic in the Moonlight starring Colin Firth, Allen said: “It’s hard to find a story with a good beginning, middle and end that’ll be entertaining to an audience. Eventually the supply will run out. I’ll just keel over in my room with a stroke or something.”

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