Los Angeles Times - - THE ENVELOPE - By Stephen Battaglio

Ama­zon Stu­dios Pres­i­dent Roy Price comes from a fam­ily of cre­ative risk-tak­ers. His fa­ther, Frank Price, ex­per­i­mented with new pro­gram for­mats when he was the head of Uni­ver­sal Tele­vi­sion and made some of the most mem­o­rable films of the 1970s and ’80s as a stu­dio chief, in­clud­ing the Academy Award-win­ning “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Back to the Fu­ture.”

His grand­fa­ther Roy Hug­gins was the in­no­va­tive TV writer re­spon­si­ble for “The Fugi­tive” and “The Rock­ford Files.” Price now has stepped shoul­der-to-shoul­der with that legacy with “Trans­par­ent,” the break­out com­edy about a trans­gen­der woman and her adult chil­dren that rapidly put Ama­zon on the map as a pro­gram­ming player to be reck­oned with. He talks about his roots and his rules in the rapidly chang­ing TV land­scape.

“Trans­par­ent” is so dar­ing and dif­fer­ent. Does it make it more chal­leng­ing for you to get peo­ple’s at­ten­tion go­ing for­ward?

I think the way to do it is to just fo­cus on stay­ing with qual­ity writ­ing. Or­der­ing a pi­lot of “Trans­par­ent” was an easy de­ci­sion be­cause when we read that script, the writ­ing was fan­tas­tic. The char­ac­ters were mov­ing and real. It had to be made. We re­ally have only one pri­or­ity: Let’s find ex­cit­ing peo­ple and ma­te­rial and let’s make it. Does it feel spe­cial? Is it worth remembering? Is it worth talk­ing about? If we just keep do­ing that and don’t get dis­tracted with other stuff, hope­fully good­ness will en­sue.

You are unique in that you dis­trib­ute your con­tent through a re­tail site. Does

AMA­ZON STU­DIOS head Roy Price says the mod­ern TV land­scape is fo­cused more on cus­tomers and cre­ators.

that give you a lot of in­for­ma­tion about who is watch­ing?

You def­i­nitely can see what they are watch­ing as a whole. You have a lot of data to work with. You have a sense of whether peo­ple are re­spond­ing to a show — are they watch­ing a few episodes? Are they watch­ing the whole thing? That can be help­ful.

How deep can you go to get in­for­ma­tion?

We don’t ask you any de­mo­graphic in­for­ma­tion other than where you send pack­ages. If you’re a 50-year-old guy and you watch TV like a 14-year–old, we may rec­om­mend things for you that are un­char­ac­ter­is­tic of your de­mo­graphic. It’s all in­di­vid­u­al­ized.

Did you see a lift in views of “Trans­par­ent” when it won the Golden Globe?

Yes. It brought an aware­ness to a broader au­di­ence that may have not been [watch­ing] on Ama­zon. We pro­moted that it won as well. Peo­ple def­i­nitely re­sponded to that.

You’ve been steeped in tra­di­tional Holly- wood through your fam­ily. Your fa­ther was a TV ex­ec­u­tive and your grand­fa­ther cre­ated three se­ries that went on to be clas­sics. How does the way you op­er­ate to­day com­pare to the rules you learned grow­ing up?

There are 82 things you had to bear in mind if you were run­ning a net­work in [for­mer NBC En­ter­tain­ment Pres­i­dent] Bran­don Tar­tikoff ’s time in 1983 that we don’t to­day. The cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment is suf­fi­ciently di­verse that I think coun­ter­pro­gram­ming is much less sig­nif­i­cant. A lot of the is­sues that used to take a lot of peo­ple’s think­ing and fo­cus are not is­sues now. You’re more fo­cused on the show. You’re fo­cused more on cus­tomers and cre­ators. You have to have the goal that ev­ery show is some­body’s fa­vorite show and be­ing suf­fi­ciently dis­tinc­tive that you re­ally stand out and be dif­fer­ent.

Your grand­fa­ther’s show “The Fugi­tive” was con­sid­ered a dar­ing idea in its day. It was se­ri­al­ized and had an end­ing, which was con­sid­ered a mis­take be­cause it was be­lieved that the show would have no value in syn­di­ca­tion. But it re­ally was

built for to­day’s TV.

You’re right. And there was some­thing about the an­ti­hero that you can find in “The Fugi­tive” and to some ex­tent “Mav­er­ick.” Roy Hug­gins was an in­no­va­tor who re­ally pre­saged some of the things that TV is fo­cused on now.

What does your fa­ther think about the new TV world?

He thinks it’s ex­cit­ing. He loves “Trans­par­ent.” He watches the shows. [As chief ex­ec­u­tive of Columbia Pic­tures,] he made “Toot­sie,” and that was a dif­fer­ent time. It had a whole dif­fer­ent theme. That’s how things evolve.

You signed Woody Allen to a deal to make a se­ries. Did you think about his global ap­peal when you signed him? There are stat­ues of him in other coun­tries be­cause his work is so revered.

He has a strong in­ter­na­tional fan base, that’s for sure. We look for­ward to in­tro­duc­ing the show to Woody Allen fans ev­ery­where. That’s part of the ex­cite­ment.

Al Seib Los An­ge­les Times

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