A naked woman stands across from a naked man as a museum patron walk between them. An orchestra plays a captivating piece as some of the musicians stand knee-deep in water. A cartoonist sketches a young boy and his mother walking through a graveyard after a funeral.
These striking images appear in The New Yorker Presents, a series that premiered this week in a surprising place. Or at least, a place that would have seemed surprising during most of the storied magazine’s 90-year history, not to mention most of the 20 years Amazon has been around. But then, Amazon Prime Video has in the past two years become the latest unexpected place to find high-quality original television.
The New Yorker Presents tells diverse stories with beautiful visuals. Each episode is, in its way, like an issue of the magazine, with documentary shorts, cartoons, one-minute clips, poetry, and fiction. The 10-episode first season features well-known New Yorker writers and artists like Ariel Levy and Roz Chast as well as actors like Alan Cumming and Paul Giamatti. (The New Yorker is owned by WIRED parent company Condé Nast.)
“It’s not a re-creation of the magazine itself, but a step in the direction of a reinvention of the news magazine format,” says Kahane Cooperman, the executive producer and showrunner of The New Yorker Presents.
For Amazon and The New Yorker, which declined to comment for this story, the show is something of an experiment. It could attract new readers to The New Yorkerand draw them into the magazine’s rich history. And Amazon gains the cachet of working with one of the most venerable names in publishing. Yes, The New Yorker Presents might not have the broad appeal of, say, Amazon’s critical hit Transparent or The Man in the High Castle. ButThe New Yorker has rarely tried to be anything other than its best self. Instead, the series shows how the risk of a traditional player entering a new medium (The New Yorkeron TV) and of a newcomer entering a more traditional genre (Amazon in unscripted television) can create a new opportunity for both.
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To create the show, Cooperman’s team read through dozens of issues of The New Yorker, creating a “menu” of stories that they thought were relevant, unique, and diverse while getting feedback from producers, editors at The New Yorker, and executives at Amazon Studios. Cooperman presented this menu to acclaimed filmmakers with varied styles, who then selected stories that most resonated with them. The idea was not, however, to recreate the magazine pieces in visual form. Rather, the written words were used as a starting point for filmmakers to tell their own stories.
Link to the rest at Wired
The idea of The New Yorker collaborating with the barbarians from Seattle is going to give a few Big Publishing types the vapors. PG wishes there was a way he could buy stock in Manhattan psychiatrists.