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Amazon's 'Studios' effort picks first TV shows to develop

Billionaire monkeys and flying sheep are among the characters whizzing around in the shows picked to possibly go into production and flesh out Amazon's Instant Video offerings.

Edward Moyer Senior Editor
Edward Moyer is a senior editor at CNET and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. ¶ For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
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2 min read
"Buck Plaidsheep" (left) is meant for kids, "Magic Monkey Billionaire" is for the older set. Buck: Frank Suarez; Monkey: Diana Wright

Amazon's "Amazon Studios" project has announced the first four TV series it will develop: three animated shows and a mockumentary, all of which were pitched by way of the Amazon Studios Web site.

The Studios project announced last month that it was looking for comedies and kids shows. The Studios effort -- which hitherto had been focused on short and feature-length films -- is designed to provide original programming for Amazon's Instant Video service.

Amazon Studios works differently than traditional Hollywood production companies in that it solicits original scripts via the Web -- writers can have their pitches reviewed publicly or by the studio staff. If a project gets picked to be moved along to the Studios' Development Slate, the creators receive $10,000, and the show may eventually be produced.

The Amazon Studios Web-centric process for submitting show proposals -- and what to expect if they're picked for development and go into production. Public submissions appear on the Amazon Studios site, where people can comment on them.

Here are the creators' descriptions of the first four chosen shows. "Buck Plaidsheep" is for kids; the others are for adults.

  • Magic Monkey Billionaire When their magician owner dies after winning the lottery, Rabbit and Monkey are shocked to learn that he left his money to happy moron Monkey and donated evil genius Rabbit to a 2nd grade class. In each episode, Rabbit hatches a plan to steal Monkey's billions.
  • Buck Plaidsheep Buck Plaidsheep, the courageous critter from Fleecy farm, will face any danger and solve any problem. Armed with a variety of vehicles, whether it be a jet pack, rowboat, hang glider or even a jeep, he always has the best vehicle to get the job done.
  • Doomsday This comedy mockumentary follows Gabriel Bell, a new age prophet, conspiracy theorist, public speaker, and self-proclaimed 'Wisdom Warrior,' as he seeks to spread the word of (and perhaps even generate a little money from) his prophecy that the world will end on December 6th 2012. We also explore the lives and supposed final days of four fans of Gabriel, who all believe in his theories for very different reasons.
  • The 100 Deaths of Mort Grimley In this animated comedy, Hell desperately needs new customers. Mort Grimley, a middle-aged suicide, is forced by Belphegor, Hell's corporate slave, to get 100 more people to kill themselves or be doomed to spend eternity right next to the cruel mother he tried to escape.

Amazon Instant Video is looking to compete with rival offerings from Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, all of which are developing their own programming. The services need to differentiate themselves, and to flesh out their content without having to lean too much on traditional Hollywood studios -- some of which have been holding back prime programming from streaming services so they can distribute it themselves.