2 posts tagged garry trudeau
2 posts tagged garry trudeau
Best-selling author and journalist Jonathan Alter (The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies, The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope) explains what it has been like to go Hollywood and produce a pilot for Amazon – Alpha House, created by Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury). Alter explains the real-life roots of the show and what it was like to work with Trudeau, as well as with an amazing cast led by John Goodman. And those cameos! (Might there be more Stephen Colbert? Read on.)
For most of my life I’ve been a political animal. My mother was a politician in Chicago, I was an intern in the Senate and the White House in the 1970s, and for the last two decades I’ve written a column about politics (first for Newsweek, now for Bloomberg View), authored books about presidents and gabbed about the events of the day on NBC News and MSNBC. But becoming an accidental executive producer of a scripted TV series about politicians is a whole new experience for me. Actually, Alpha House is a new experience for everyone, given that we’re at the dawn of a new age of online television. It’s been ridiculously fun and my friends are insanely jealous.
I don’t honestly know how the idea for Alpha House started. Garry Trudeau hasn’t told me and he probably doesn’t know himself. As I learned in 1990 when I profiled him for Newsweek on the 20th anniversary of Doonesbury, Garry has all of these characters and bits of political and cultural news dancing in his head and he’s never sure where they will land.
After I wrote about him, Garry and I became friends and we developed a quadrennial ritual of traveling together to New Hampshire for the presidential primary. In January of 2012, I was reporting for my new book about the campaign and Garry seemed focused on his strip. Then at dinner one night in Manchester he casually mentioned he had been developing a project about four senators living in a man-cave on Capitol Hill, based on the real-life living arrangement of four Democratic legislators. He thought making them Republicans would be funnier. One thing led to another and the project took off.
All of the characters in Alpha House are original, though elements of the Republican senators played by John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy, Mark Consuelos and (in a profane cameo) Bill Murray, can be found in the politicians of both parties that Garry has sometimes put in his comic strip. Political junkies will notice other details in the pilot that connect to the news. Future episodes (which will be produced if you tell Amazon you like the pilot) will have plenty more real stuff, filtered through Garry’s creative genius.
Amazon Studios today announced that it will be producing six original series pilots for Prime Instant Video. The comedy series were created by a mix of established writers such as Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury) and David Javerbaum (The Daily Show), as well as newcomers discovered via Amazon Studios’ open-door development process.
This marks the studios’ first pilot order since expanding into original series development earlier this year. The pilots will be shown to viewers on Amazon Instant Video in 2013, and viewer response will help determine which series move forward. Completed series will be exclusively available to members of Prime Instant Video and LOVEFiLM in the UK for free.
“Since launching our original series development effort, we have received more than 2,000 series ideas from creators around the world, with all different backgrounds, and we are extremely excited to begin production on our very first set of shows,” said Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios. “The six comedy series will begin production shortly, and once they are complete, we intend to post the pilots on Amazon Instant Video for feedback. We hope Amazon customers will help us decide which original series we should produce.”
And what do the series creators think?
“Amazon has been so innovative and successful in so many realms, it’s impossible not to get excited about its new venture into online programming,” said Trudeau, whose Amazon Studios series, Alpha House, is a D.C.-set comedy about lawmakers who live together. “We look forward to partnering with Amazon’s creative team, making a great show, and, as the holidays approach, receiving free two-day shipping for the entire cast and crew.”
The comedy series going into pilot production are: