After decades and decades of making movies, Woody Allen is finally making a TV show — and he's creating it for Amazon. "I don’t know how I got into this," Allen says in a statement. "I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin." Without seeing a single episode or announcing a single casting decision, Amazon has ordered an entire season of a TV show to be written and directed entirely by Allen. The series will consist of half-hour episodes, though Amazon hasn't yet said how many. There's no title for the show either, nor is there a description of what it'll be about. It'll debut on Prime Instant Video during 2016 in the US, UK, and Germany.
Allen's films have been on an upswing in recent years
"Woody Allen is a visionary creator who has made some of the greatest films of all-time, and it’s an honor to be working with him on his first television series," Roy Price, Amazon Studios VP, says in a statement. Allen jokes, "My guess is that Roy Price will regret this."
Allen has written and directed a new movie pretty much every year for decades now. Though they've been of varying quality — from masterpieces like Annie Hall to a handful of clunkers — he's very much been on an upswing lately, finding some of his biggest successes in recent years with films like Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine. That appears to have been enough to give Amazon faith in whatever project he dreams up for it. Amazon is also beginning to find success in comedy, and this is an opportunity to bolster that in a major way.
Amazon doesn't say what the funding will be like for Allen's TV series, but it very much seems like the studio was willing to do whatever it takes — even so far as committing to an entire season before much work has been put into the show — in order to land Allen. Allen typically operates on small budgets (his films have never brought in that much for studios), but he's also been able to bring on terrific actors simply because they're willing to take the pay cut just to work with him. While a television series would be a larger time commitment, it's possible that scoring Allen also means that Amazon will be able to bring on actors with a star power that it otherwise couldn't afford.
While Allen is a huge catch for Amazon, which has been trying to scoop up major talent for its series, he will not come without controversy. Over the past two decades, an allegation of child abuse against Allen has continued to resurface, with the matter once again entering the spotlight just under a year ago when the alleged victim published a harrowing open letter in The New York Times. Allen has been cleared of charges and the issue has once again left the spotlight, but it is not unlikely for Amazon to receive criticism for choosing to support him.
Allen has another film due out later this year, starring Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix. Given that his films are made so close together, it's possible that 2016 could be the first year in a while without a Woody Allen movie. Of course, if that's the case, fans likely won't have much to complain about: it would mean trading an hour and a half of Allen's material for several hours of it — and it usually takes a few years to see that much new comedy out of him.