Online streaming: Amazon rolls dice with new series
LOS ANGELES -- Dana Delany had an urge.
While playing the take-no-prisoners wife of a law-bending judge in the upcoming Amazon pilot "Hand of God," an indecent inclination by the veteran actress conflicted with the instincts she’d developed as a network TV star. Delany, who’s logged countless hours on such series as "China Beach" and "Desperate Housewives," wasn’t sure what to do.
"We just shot this scene where I’m intimidating this preacher played by Julian Morris," recalled Delany in her trailer during a break from filming in downtown Los Angeles. "At the end of the scene, I said, ‘Maybe I should just grab his (genitals)?’ Everyone said, ‘Go for it! Welcome to the Internet, Dana Delany! You can’t do that on network television."’
The gutsy drama, about Ron Perlman as a judge who believes God is guiding him after an attack on his family, is among the latest batch of potential series that will be streamed online by Amazon beginning today. The Internet retail giant took a cue from Netflix last year and started producing its own shows. Which shows become full series will depend on audience response.
Perlman said he was interested in moving right into another TV project after coming off six seasons as the patriarch of a ruthless biker gang on FX’s "Sons of Anarchy" because it was the first script he read post-"Anarchy," and the character of Judge Harris Pernell was so different from his previous roles.
"I was completely intimidated," said Perlman over a lunch on the set. "The character is this compendium of very, very bold qualities -- one of which is that he’s in the middle of a breakdown when we meet him. Whoever he is in life, he’s deeply compromised during the pilot and going through self-discovery as God comes into his life."
The creators of "Hand of God" are quick to note that Amazon isn’t moving into faith-based programming. The show’s conceit is more about characters grasping for power in the fictional town of San Vicente than it is about religion.
"The religion in the show is like the science in ‘Breaking Bad,"’ said writer-producer Ben Watkins, who previously worked on "Burn Notice." "It’s an important part, but it’s just a threadŠ. For me, this is more about the contradictions of our lives and our ambivalence toward life in general."
Amazon is streaming "Hand of God" alongside pilots for the medical thriller "Hysteria," starring Mena Suvari; the 1980s country club romp "Red Oaks," from producer Steven Soderbergh; and the Paris-set romantic comedy "The Cosmopolitans," starring Adam Brody.
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