Amazon launched a slate of new TV projects tonight, apparently prompted by the ire of CEO Jeff Bezos, who’s reportedly sick of his company’s persistent status as “that place you go to watch Transparent.” According to a new piece from Variety, Bezos is on the war path at the moment, demanding Amazon Studios find him a Game Of Thrones-style hit to put the streaming provider firmly on the map. (After all, being the world’s second-richest person doesn’t mean much if you can’t also have the TV Iron Throne parked firmly under keister.)
Bezos’ demands—which he apparently shares with the company’s upper management—have already caused at least one casualty, with Christina Ricci’s Z: The Beginning Of Everything getting un-renewed earlier this week for the crime of being insufficiently buzzy. “We’re glad we did Z,” Studio head Roy Price said in an interview. “We’re proud of the work done on it and the team we had on it. At the end of the day you only have so many slots. With those slots you have to drive viewership and drive subscriptions.”
Price pointed to The Man In The High Castle, The Tick, and Jeremy Clarkson’s The Grand Tour as being closer to the kind of shows the network is interested in at the moment (so fans of those series can probably rest easy for now). That being said, Amazon is still hunting for its Westerosi white whale; something that’ll drive bloody water cooler conversations the way Thrones has done for HBO for nearly a decade.
“I do think Game Of Thrones is to TV as Jaws and Star Wars was to the movies of the 1970s,” Price said. “It’ll inspire a lot of people. Everybody wants a big hit and certainly that’s the show of the moment in terms of being a model for a hit.” To that end, the company recently tapped Hong Kong film auteur Wong Kar-wai (Chungking Express) for Tong Wars, a new historical drama set in the criminal underbelly of 19th century San Francisco. (We don’t want to be naysayers, but as cool as that sounds, it seems kind of light on ice zombies and dragons to our GOT-loving ears.)
The service also offered up a series order for a new comedy project from fellow SNL alums Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen, who finishes filming on his long-running IFC sketch show Portlandia this week. The company is also putting into development three series with impressive pedigrees: a futuristic sitcom from The Office’s Greg Daniels, a new multi-cam series from How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, and The Boys, a new comic book adaptation from the Preacher team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Based on a later, even-more-violent work from Preacher writer Garth Ennis, the series focuses on a black-ops team tasked with messily killing superheroes who step too far out of line.
Will any of these be the new Thrones Bezos is demanding? (Probably not, if we’re being honest.) But you know what they say: In the game of high-stakes content development for streaming services with an eye toward drawing in subscribers with hot, must-see exclusives, you either win, or you die.