THIS SUMMER, Garry Trudeau will be working on a new way to skewer Washington.
The cartoonist-screenwriter will put his Pulitzer-winning comic strip, “Doonesbury,” on the shelf this summer as he works on his new live-action Capitol Hill comedy, “Alpha House,” which has just been officially picked up by Amazon Studios, reports Variety.
The strip’s syndicate, Universal Uclick, says that Michael Doonesbury and the rest of Trudeau’s troupe will go on sabbatical from June 10 to Labor Day. (“Doonesbury Flashbacks” will run during those weeks.)
Trudeau will spend that time working on “Alpha House,” one of five series that Amazon Studios has just greenlighted as it moves into the world of original scripted programming. The other four series are the comedy “Betas” and the childrens’ shows “Annebots,” “Creative Galaxy” and “Tumbleaf,” reports Variety.
“Alpha House,” which stars John Goodman and Clark Johnson, centers on the lives of four Republican senators who share a residence. The Beltway-savvy satire was inspired by the true-life living arrangements of four prominent Democrats — after Trudeau read a news story in 2007 about “Real World”-esque roomies Rep. George Miller, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Bill Delahunt, who were sharing a two-bedroom house in the shadow of the Capitol Dome.
The series pilot, which Amazon made available for viewing last month, also featured Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos, and featured a performance by Bill Murray and a cameo by Stephen Colbert.
[THE TRUDEAU Q&A: “Doonesbury” creator on his new Amazon venture]
As a “pop-up”studio venturing into scripted programming, Amazon Studios is looking to expand from Internet retailer to subscription video service provider, with original series that stream online as part of an “Amazon Prime” package.
“We built Amazon Studios so that customers could help decide which stories would make the very best movies and TV shows,”said Amazon Studios director Roy Price, according to Variety.
Last month, Amazon Studios made its first 14 pilots available for free online viewing. Public response factored into Amazon’s decision regarding the five series it decided to “go to air” with.
“The audience gets a big say in whether the show is picked up,” Trudeau told Comic Riffs last month.
Trudeau, of course, is no stranger to writing for the screen. He worked with the late-great director Robert Altman on the Emmy-winning HBO political series “Tanner ‘88,” and penned the Sundance Channel sequel, ”Tanner on Tanner.”
He also wrote the animated “A Doonesbury Special,” which received an Oscar nomination and a Cannes jury prize, and his Broadway production of “Doonesbury” garnered a couple of Drama Desk noms.
Still, taking on the writing of a new series has its challenges.
“All writing is hard,” Trudeau told Comic Riffs. “Experience hasn’t made it any easier, just less scary.