It has been only 4 months since Jennifer Salke joined as the head of Amazon’s television and movie division. But she is trying to be familiar with some staff members in the film department. She was the president of entertainment at NBC previously.
Ms. Salke has been actively fixing what was left behind by Roy Price, her precursor. Roy was expelled after a sexual harassment scandal in the month of October. Ms. Salke has been teaming up with producers and writers to clarify the message of the type of programming Amazon requires. She has plunged Amazon’s assembly line to draw level with a fast-moving Netflix and a rebellious Apple. The new head of Amazon’s television and movie division said she is ambitious and she will complete.
Amazon’s Public Campaign
Ms. Salke had made up her mind that it is the right time to take her campaign public. On Thursday, reporters from different publications were invited over one by one to momentarily chat about her strategy. The message she wants to give out to Hollywood’s creative community was that Amazon now has its act together and they are invited to join them. Does Amazon plan to pay high prices to protect the exclusive services of show creators like Netflix has done? Ms. Salke said since the network business is changing, and merging and acquisitions are taking place that will end up in potential changes of leadership, there is plenty of talent out there seeking for a home. There are resources, she added, and she has deep relationships with creative talent.
A few months in, she is not going to be publicly poaching but definitely, she is going to proactively approach people who are available. Ms. Salke was referring to none other than the Oscar-winning writer and director, Jordan Peele who made the blockbuster film, “Get Out.”
As per the deal made last week, Amazon has the right of first refusal for any of the TV ideas made by Mr. Peele. It was also announced last week that Barry Jenkins, another Oscar winner had agreed to direct the entire 11 episodes of an upcoming mini-series based on “The Underground Railroad,” the best-selling book. Amazon is also working on fresh comedies which are going to be big addictive shows for women according to Salke. The work includes “Modern Love,” a half-hour anthology series. John Carney, the filmmaker is basing on the trending relationship column in The New York Times. It will look at various forms of love including sexual, familial, romantic, platonic, and self.
Amazon is not aiming for something small and niche as per Ms. Salke. It needs to invite people in. Her bosses in Seattle too feel the same way. Since the costly investment of Amazon its content has produced only mixed results in Hollywood, it rests upon Ms. Salke to change that as quickly as possible. Ms. Salke has a proven track record. She has a hand in organizing a turnaround for NBC, taking it from the lowest point. The only thing is she has no movie experience while a large part of Amazon’s success in Hollywood until now has come from its film division.
Mr. Price has spent plentifully while he brought Woody Allen to Amazon and it is a Babbage for Ms. Salke. However, Ms. Salke may luck out with one more film from the Price era- one from Mr. Fogelman. He was the director of “Life Itself.” It is a romantic drama about interconnecting lives over manifold generations. The film is scheduled to be released by Amazon in September. Amazon is hoping high for a box office and enters the Academy Award race. They have another likely Oscar contender in “Beautiful Boy.” It is a film about a father coping with his son’s drug addiction.
Most likely, Ms. Salke will include a senior executive to Amazon’s film team. Amazon wants to maintain the level of excellence with movies, Ms. Salke added.