Amazon Studios, producer of the TV series "Transparent" (which won five Emmys on Sunday), has announced its newest slate of TV pilots to debut sometime this fall, and the lineup includes projects from stand-up comic Tig Notaro, Sacha Baron Cohen and Chicago-based writer-director Steve Conrad.
Conrad's pilot is a darkly comic political thriller called "Patriot" that centers on an American intelligence officer whose latest assignment is to "prevent Iran from going nuclear, requiring him to forgo all safety nets and assume a perilous 'non-official cover' — that of a mid-level employee at a Midwestern industrial piping firm. A bout with PTSD, the federal government's incompetence and the intricacies of keeping a day job in the 'front' industrial piping company, cause a barrage of ever-escalating fiascoes that jeopardize (his) mission." (Conrad's previous work as a screenwriter includes "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and the workplace comedy "The Promotion," which he also directed.)
The comedy pilot from Notaro is loosely autobiographical. "One Mississippi" follows her on a trip back to her childhood home in a small Mississippi town, where she works through the recent death of her mother, as well as her own health issues. This is familiar ground for Notaro, who has focused some of her stand-up material on her experiences with breast cancer. The show also co-stars Casey Wilson as Notaro's girlfriend, and it has a deep bench of producing talent behind the scenes: Diablo Cody, Louis C.K. and Nicole Holofcener.
Sacha Baron Cohen is executive-producing a pilot called "Highston," about a delusional 19-year-old "with a wide circle of celebrity friends — that only he can see. His parents, Jean (Mary Lynn Rajskub, '24') and Wilbur (Chris Parnell, 'Saturday Night Live'), force him to get psychiatric help, but his Uncle Billy (Curtis Armstrong, 'American Dad!') thinks he's just fine. 'Highston' is a comedy about what it means to be normal in a world that's anything but."