In Cannes promoting his new film Café Society, Woody Allen today spoke to Total Film about his upcoming TV show for Amazon Studios. Until now, any details of the show have been firmly kept under wraps.
“I’ve finished it and Amazon will look at it next week when they get back to California from Cannes,” he said, peering through his trademark black-rimmed spectacles. “I hope they’re not disappointed. I gave it my best shot. It’s six half-hour episodes, and it stars myself – there happened to be a good part for me – and Elaine May and Miley Cyrus. It takes place in the late-1960s, when America had all that anti-Vietnam turbulence, and riots in the street, and Nixon was President, and people were burning their draft cards, and the Black Panthers were rebelling. America was on the verge of a revolution. The government was scared.”
Allen in serious mode then? Think again. “It’s a broad comedy,” he says. “It goes for laughs, and it’s not deep or serious.”
The as-yet-untitled show will air later this year and will mark the first time Allen has worked in television since the 1960s. He still appears to be in a daze as to how it all happened.
“Amazon a few years ago came to me and said, ‘Would you do a television series?” he recalls. “Anything you want: six episodes, a half-hour each, or 10 episodes, an hour long; you can shoot in Europe; in black and white; in the ‘20s, the ‘60s… We don’t have to see it, or know anything about it. We’ll give you the money and you do it.’
“I said, ‘No, I never watch television’. They came back months later and kept raising the fee until finally, I couldn’t say no. I thought, ‘I’ll knock it off quickly and get back to my films, and I’ll have a paycheque to put in the bank.’ But it was not easy. It was as hard as any film that I’ve done.”