Streaming TV: Woody Allen coming to Amazon, ‘Community’ gets start date, and will Netflix lose BBC?

A few interesting streaming TV developments today:

• Amazon Studios, fresh off its Golden Globes win for the comedy “Transparent,” announced Tuesday it will air a new series written and directed by Woody Allen. It’s the legendary writer-director’s first foray into TV. The half-hour series has neither a name nor a cast, and will air on Amazon Prime likely next year.

“Woody Allen is a visionary creator who has made some of the greatest films of all time, and it’s an honor to be working with him on his first television series,” Amazon Studios Vice President Roy Price said in a statement.

In the same statement, Allen replied, “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 Roy Price will regret this.”

Amazon is building quite a stable of A-list filmmakers to its original streaming lineup. As Merc TV critic Chuck Barney notes, Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh has a comedy series in the works, and both Oscar nominee Ridley Scott and “Lost” co-creator Carlton Cuse have pilots in development.

• Yahoo announced Tuesday that the sitcom “Community” will debut with two episodes March 17. But the series will then depart from the typical Netflix and Amazon binge-watching strategy, instead releasing one episode a week, broadcast TV-style.

“Community” ran for five season on NBC before being cancelled last year. Though low-rated, the series had a dedicated fan base, and Sunnyvale-based  Yahoo revived it in June hoping to give a boost to its Screen streaming service.

Series creator Dan Harmon told TV critics Tuesday that Yahoo is providing more creative freedom than NBC and less pressure for ratings — as well as a slightly bigger budget. “The corset loosens a little bit,” Harmon said.

“Well, the episodes are 70 hours long apiece,” star Joel McHale joked.

For its sixth season, “Community” is adding Keith David and Paget Brewster to the cast, which includes McHale, Alison Brie and Jim Rash.

Netflix viewers may want to speed up their binge-watching of their favorite British series — the streaming service’s contract with the BBC expires at the end of January, potentially cutting off access to “Doctor Who,” “Luther,” “Top Gear,” “Black Mirror” and many more.

The shows could stay on the service if the contract is renewed in the next couple of weeks, but there is no word of ongoing negotiations between Los Gatos-based Netflix and the BBC.

Update: While some folks are freaking out over word that Netflix may lose its lineup of British series when its contract with the BBC expires at the end of January, those reports are “not exactly accurate,” Netflix spokesman Cliff Edwards told the Merc. Edwards declined to comment further.

Los Gatos-based Netflix and the BBC still have a few weeks to extend their contract, so there’s still hope that on Feb. 1 viewers won’t have to hop into the Tardis and travel back in time if they want to catch their favorite British shows.

 

 

At top: Woody Allen, at the French premiere of “Blue Jasmine,” in Paris in 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

 

 

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