Remember that Woody Allen Amazon series we heard about back in January? When news broke that the director had signed on for an untitled six-part series with the online behemoth, the prospect was exciting, mysterious and vaguely unnerving: What would one of our greatest big-screen auteurs conjure up amid the brave new world of streaming TV? While his statement at the time ("I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin”) didn't inspire much confidence, it was easy enough to write this off as Allen being glib.
Well it turns out, Allen really does have no idea where to begin, and he wholeheartedly regrets agreeing to do the show. Talking to Deadline at Cannes about his new film "Irrational Man," Allen laid all his cards on the table, explaining that he doesn’t "even know what a streaming service is” and also that he "never knew what Amazon was.” He also adds that he’s much of a TV watcher in general. As he puts it: "I’ve never seen any of those series, even on cable. I’ve never seen 'The Sopranos,' or 'Mad Men.' I’m out every night and when I come home, I watch the end of the baseball or basketball game, and there’s Charlie Rose and I go to sleep.”
Okay, not a great start here. So why did he sign on to the project? According to Allen, Amazon kept bombarding him until he gave in:
“I kept saying I have no ideas for it, that I never watch television. I don’t know the first thing about it. Well, this went on for a year and a half, and they kept making a better deal and a better deal. Finally they said look, we’ll do anything that you want, just give us six half hours. They can be black and white, they can take place in Paris, in New York and California, they can be about a family, they can be comedy, you can be in them, they can be tragic. We don’t have to know anything, just come in with six half hours. And they offered a lot of money and everybody around me was pressuring me, go ahead and do it, what do you have to lose?"
Even for a pessimistic guy like Woody, things sound pretty bleak. Saying that he has "regretted every second since [he] said OK,” and that he "[hasn't] had a pleasurable moment since [he] undertook it,” Allen explained that it has been difficult for him to adjust to the format of a serialized TV program, particularly the realization that it isn't just a film split into six parts.
As he puts it: "I had the cocky confidence, well, I’ll do it like I do a movie…it’ll be a movie in six parts. Turns out, it’s not. For me, it has been very, very difficult. I’ve been struggling and struggling and struggling. I only hope that when I finally do it — I have until the end of 2016 — they’re not crushed with disappointment because they’re nice people and I don’t want to disappoint them. I am doing my best…. But I am not as good at it as I fantasized I might be.”
One thing is clear here: No matter how bad Woody Allen may be at making TV shows, he is even worse at doing his own PR.