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Hollywood has long had a love affair with the paranoid futures within the works of Philip K. Dick, often at the expense of other sci-fi authors. Now the small screen is champing at the late author’s bits, as Amazon Studios has given the greenlight to a pilot based on Dick’s 1961 novel The Man in the High Castle, and will host it for their third Pilot Season. Also getting the pilot go-ahead is the bewitching comedy Just Add Magic.
The Man in the High Castle comes from Ridley Scott’s production company Scot Free, and you may remember they tried to turn this novel into a 4-hour miniseries for the BBC a few years ago, and then later tried with a Syfy miniseries. At the head of this project is Frank Spotnitz, best known for his years as a producer and writer on The X-Files. (He also created the forever underappreciated spinoff The Lone Gunmen.) Spotnitz will write the script, and the pilot will be directed by TV vet David Semel, who most recently helmed episodes of FX’s The Strain and the upcoming TNT series Legends. Will the third time be the charm for this highly ambitious tale? Either this pilot is going to need a pretty wicked budget, or these guys are going to have to take some creative liberties with the story.
The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history tale set in 1962, in a world where the Nazis and the Japanese won World War II, and the term “United States” is little more than a distant memory. Japan holds down the Pacific States, while the Germans are on the East Coast, with the middle of the country unruled, though everything is pretty fascist at this point anyway. Hitler isn’t far from death, and the Japanese aren’t far from taking advantage of that. How much do we want to bet that the majority of this cast will be white Americans?
Just Add Magic, meanwhile, is described by Deadline as a comedy centered on three twelve-year-old girls and best friends. One of them has aspirations for baking, but begins cooking up entirely different situations after finding an old recipe book in her attic that teachers her how to make magical foods with spells in them. I kind of like that idea, especially if it’s geared to interest all ages and not solely preteens. This pilot will be written by author Nancy Cohen, Fairly Oddparents writer Joanna Lewis and Joanna Songco. Joe Nussbaum (Sydney White) is set to direct.
This brings Amazon’s third Pilot Season to 14 potential future series, including the recently added Red Oaks from Steven Soderbergh. Once the pilots are released, anyone with a computer will be able to watch them on Amazon Instant Video and vote on favorites, which Amazon Studios takes into account when deciding what they wish to go forward with. The process has already given us series like Alpha House and the upcoming post-apocalyptic Chris Carter series After.