Nazis? Cults? Creative freedom draws Hollywood to Netflix, Amazon TV

Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:39pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When Tina Fey pitched a comedy series to broadcast network NBC, the home of her Emmy-winning hit "30 Rock," she ran into problems with the new show's "potentially tricky" premise about a woman held hostage by a religious zealot.

"With broadcast, when you're going into people's homes, you have to be a little more polite," Fey told Reuters. On the streaming service Netflix, however, "you can get into more dangerous topics."

In two years, Netflix Inc and online streaming platform Amazon Studios have drawn top names across film and television, enticing them with creative liberty, freedom from time constraints and no fears of offending advertisers.

As a result, online platforms are fast defining a new age of television that is reflected in 46 nominations for Amazon and Netflix shows at Sunday's Primetime Emmy Awards.

Fey's controversial topic came in the form of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" about a chirpy, naive 'mole woman' who moves to New York after escaping her cult-like captor.

"With a premise like this that is potentially tricky for people - a kidnapped woman who's getting her life back - once you move to Netflix, the premise is not a problem at all," Fey said.

The show goes into Sunday's ceremony with seven Emmy nominations including best comedy series. Netflix's political thriller "House of Cards" and prison drama "Orange is the New Black" are also well represented, along with Amazon's groundbreaking transgender series "Transparent."

Amazon offers TV shows and movies through its $99-a-year Amazon Prime membership. It releases a selection of pilots online and uses audience input to help decide which to greenlight.   Continued...

The Netflix logo is shown in this illustration photograph in Encinitas, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake