This summer’s Television Critics Association press tour has led to much news about the world of TV, a world I am comically apathetic towards (a Venn diagram of “Shows The Narrator Watches” and “Shows Everyone Loves” would be shockingly close to just being two completely separate circles). But one thing I’m not apathetic towards is the work of Woody Allen, which I’ve expressed my devotion for many times in the past. So, the one thing that could get me interested in the TCA would be an announcement about Woody Allen’s upcoming TV series for Amazon, and they did not disappoint in that regard.
The announcement of Allen writing and directing a half-hour series for Amazon was made way back in January of this year. At the time, Allen said this about it; “I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin. My guess is that (Vice President of Amazon Studios) Roy Price will regret this.” Ha, there’s our Woody, being all self-deprecating and shit! Then there was radio silence on the topic until May, when, in an interview with Deadline, Allen had much more to say on the topic.
ALLEN: I don’t even know what a streaming service is; that’s the interesting thing. When you said streaming service, it was the first time I’ve heard that term connected with the Amazon thing. I never knew what Amazon was. I’ve never seen any of those series, even on cable. I’ve never seen The Sopranos, or Mad Men. I’m out every night and when I come home, I watch the end of the baseball or basketball game, and there’s Charlie Rose and I go to sleep. Amazon kept coming to me and saying, please do this, whatever you want. I kept saying I have no ideas for it, that I never watch television. I don’t know the first thing about it. Well, this went on for a year and a half, and they kept making a better deal and a better deal. Finally they said look, we’ll do anything that you want, just give us six half hours. They can be black and white, they can take place in Paris, in New York and California, they can be about a family, they can be comedy, you can be in them, they can be tragic. We don’t have to know anything, just come in with six half hours. And they offered a lot of money and everybody around me was pressuring me, go ahead and do it, what do you have to lose?
DEADLINE: So you said yes…
ALLEN: And I have regretted every second since I said OK. It’s been so hard for me. I had the cocky confidence, well, I’ll do it like I do a movie…it’ll be a movie in six parts. Turns out, it’s not. For me, it has been very, very difficult. I’ve been struggling and struggling and struggling. I only hope that when I finally do it — I have until the end of 2016 — they’re not crushed with disappointment because they’re nice people and I don’t want to disappoint them. I am doing my best. I fit it in between films, so it’s not like, no film this year, I’m doing Amazon. It’s a job within my usual schedule. But I am not as good at it as I fantasized I might be. It’s not a piece of cake; it’s a tough thing and I’m earning every penny that they’re giving me and I just hope that they don’t feel, ‘My God, we gave him a very substantial amount of money and freedom and this is what he gives us?’
DEADLINE: You really regret that deal?
ALLEN: Oh, it’s amazing how you can regret. I haven’t had a pleasurable moment since I undertook it.
Ha, there’s our Woody, working in a medium he doesn’t even bother to understand! If that interview seems to cast doubt on the prospect of Allen’s show actually, you know, coming to fruition, Roy Price assures you that it is happening, and sooner than you’d think. On the TCA press tour, Price said that Allen was almost done with writing the scripts, and the show would go into production late this year, and premiere in the second half of next year. Of course, the question the press thought to ask him was “Did the allegations of rape against Allen affect your decision to work with him?”, as opposed to “What will the series be about?” or “How will it be structured” or, most importantly, “Will Darius Khondji be shooting the series?” Price said in response to this question that “Woody Allen is one of the greatest filmmakers America has ever produced. People are going to be talking about Woody’s films for a long, long time.”. He added, “I think you have to look at the whole picture, focus, yeah, take everything into account. Our focus is on the fact that he’s a great storyteller.” This is, of course, darting around the subject to say the very least, but as someone who thoroughly rejects any discussion of Allen not related to his work and only his work, I dig Price’s “art first” approach. Unless what he said was just PR bullshit and he just wants Allen to direct a series for his name recognition. But why would a mega-corporation do something like that?
As stated above, we still don’t know the plot or structure of the series, the actors who will be appearing in it, or if Darius Khondji will be shooting it. Of course, the schedule could potentially not work out with Khondji shooting The Lost City of Z, which is totally a thing that’s happening and not a figment of my crazed, obsessive imagination. As a result of this series, 2016 will be the first year since 1994 (when movie audiences were blessed with Bullets Over Broadway while ABC aired his half-assed film adaptation of his own play Don’t Drink the Water) when audiences will get twice the Allen they normally get in a given year.