Despite winning three Academy Awards earlier this year, Amazon Studios went home empty handed at the Emmys last month, and the defeat stung more since it had passed on making two of the night’s biggest winners: “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) and “Big Little Lies” (HBO).
But that’s just the start of what a Wall Street Journal story, which came out Friday, revealed about the steaming giant.
The movie/TV division of the conglomerate has an annual spending of $US4.5 billion to produce and acquire its titles, according to the Journal. However, inside its walls there seems to be a lot of low morale — and major Hollywood producers heading for the exits.
Top-flight producer David E. Kelley left the Amazon show, “Goliath,” after its first season due to creative differences. Sources told the Journal Amazon was not supportive of the multi-Emmy winner. And Kelley doesn’t hold back on what he thinks about Amazon Studios.
“I’m a huge fan of the company overall, but their entertainment division is a bit of a gong show,” Kelley told the Wall Street Journal. “They are in way over their heads.”
Known for hit shows like “The Practice” and “Ally McBeal,” Kelley took “Big Little Lies” to HBO. The show won eight Primetime Emmys.
Shawn Ryan, creator of the award-winning “The Shield” for FX, produced the canceled Amazon drama “Mad Dogs,” and called his time there frustrating and confusing. Particularly how Amazon gives notes. Ryan said at traditional networks you get notes from executives the day after a cut of an episode. At Amazon, notes took more than a week and led to shooting delays and overages in production budget.
And the Wall Street Journal story highlighted potential conflict of interest on the part of Amazon Studio executives Joe Lewis and Roy Price.
According to the Journal, Lewis, Amazon’s head of comedy and drama, pressured people working on Amazon show “The Tick” to cast his girlfriend, actress Yara Martinez. Price, the head of Amazon Studios, also encouraged his team to buy the idea for a series called “12 Parties” from his fiancée Lila Feinberg. In the story, there was a character that resembled Price: a middle-aged Harvard graduate who wears leather jackets and has a Black Flag tattoo. Amazon Studio declined to buy the script after a conflict-of-interest review was conducted, according to the Journal.
After being shut out at the Emmys, the company’s main priority is reportedly finding a massive global hit like HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
Amazon Studios was not immediately available for comment.
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