Amazon snags Woody Allen to write and direct his first-ever TV series

In an ongoing show of one-upping with competitors like Netflix, Amazon convinces the famed filmmaker to create a TV series. Quipped Allen: "I don't know how I got into this."

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Amazon ups its game with Woody Allen. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage) Jamie McCarthy, WireImage

Woody Allen has signed a deal with Amazon to write and direct his first-ever television series -- a half-hour show that's set to premiere at some point next year exclusively on Amazon Prime Instant Video, Amazon announced on Tuesday.

Currently dubbed "Untitled Woody Allen Project," there are few details on the show, casting and exact premiere date. Judging by his statement on the series, even Allen doesn't know what's coming next.

"I don't know how I got into this," Allen said in a statement. "I have no ideas and I'm not sure where to begin."

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Allen is one of the most renowned filmmakers in the world, boasting a filmography that spans more than 40 movies, including "Annie Hall," "Zelig" and "Midnight in Paris." Allen is also a playwright, musician and one of the most recognizable comedians in the world. Still, with all of the work he has done, Allen has never had a television series. This makes the Amazon deal an important one for both Allen and Amazon Studios, the arm that runs original series for the company's Prime Instant Video service.

From a business perspective, the deal is a potential blow to Amazon competitor Netflix. Both companies offer streaming-video services and have original series. A gold rush of sorts has emerged over the past year, as both Netflix and Amazon have signed entertainment industry notables to exclusive deals in an effort to keep the other at bay.

Last year, for instance, Netflix announced it had signed a deal with comedienne Chelsea Handler to produce a documentary-style show exclusively on its network. Netflix also has several original series, including the popular "House of Cards," "Orange is the New Black" and " Marco Polo."

Amazon has its slate of original series, including "Transparent" and "Alpha House," among others. Both Amazon and Netflix shows went home with Golden Globe awards this past Sunday night -- Amazon's "="" won="" a="" golden="" globe"="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="ae3b44f8-22de-4077-aac1-9234227f4a18" slug="amazon-netflix-score-at-golden-globes" link-text="" section="news" title="Amazon rides 'Transparent' to victory at Golden Globes" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"ae3b44f8-22de-4077-aac1-9234227f4a18","slug":"amazon-netflix-score-at-golden-globes","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"online"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Tech^Services and Software^Online","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> for best TV series, musical or comedy, while both "Transparent" star Jeffrey Tambor and "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey each won best actor awards.

In addition to securing talent, Amazon and Netflix also have been acquiring exclusive streaming rights to a wide range of content over the past few years. Last year, for example, Amazon got its hands on the streaming rights to HBO programming. In October, Netflix announced that it would stream the popular TV series "Friends."

Still, the companies aren't alone in their ongoing battle for positioning. Hulu Plus, another streaming provider, has a set of original and exclusive content, and YouTube has been making a significant push for more professional programming to boost its revenue and attract audiences that have migrated to Netflix and Amazon's Prime Instant Video. With Allen now in the mix, the battle continues to heat up.

Amazon's Instant Video comes free with a subscription to the company's $99 Prime service. That offering includes free two-day shipping along with Instant Video, music streaming via Prime Music and photo-sharing via Prime Photos, among other perks.