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Amazon Studios chief Roy Price defends Woody Allen partnership

Amazon Studios drama head Morgan Wandell, left, chief Roy Price and comedy head Joe Lewis appear Monday at Amazon’s executive session at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills.

Amazon Studios drama head Morgan Wandell, left, chief Roy Price and comedy head Joe Lewis appear Monday at Amazon’s executive session at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills.

(Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Amazon Studios chief Roy Price found himself defending the decision to partner with Woody Allen.

Price, along with drama head Morgan Wandell and comedy head Joe Lewis, were on hand Monday for Amazon’s executive session at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills.

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Among the talking points was the status of Allen’s series. When it was announced in January, the deal between Amazon and Allen (in which the Oscar winner writes and directs his first-ever TV series) turned heads because it signaled the momentum Amazon was having fresh off its Golden Globe victory with “Transparent.” In May, Allen voiced his misgivings about the deal -- but it seems his doubts haven’t killed the show.

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On Monday, Price said he recently met with Allen and that almost all the scripts for the first season of the series had been completed. The show is scheduled to begin production at the end of the year and will premiere in the second half of 2016, Price said.

Price was also asked whether the accusations that surfaced last year about Allen allegedly molesting his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow when she was 7 had been weighed before considering getting into business with the filmmaker.

“I think you have to look at the whole picture,” Price said. “Our focus is on the fact that he’s a great filmmaker and storyteller.”

The programming executives were also questioned about the decision to add “Top Gear” alums Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond into the Amazon fold. The three will be toplining an untitled automotive series that will roll out on Amazon next year. But the show follows a clamorous year. Clarkson was fired from “Top Gear” earlier this year and has found himself in hot water for remarks he’s made in the past.

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Full coverage: Television Crtitics Association press tour 2015

Asked whether he addressed the past behavior, Price chose to pivot.

“We feel very bullish that it’s going to be a very fun show that fans around the world are going to love,” he said.

Price was far more chatty about boasting of Amazon Prime’s ramped up slate of originals under its belt in the just over two years since the service got into original programming. Of the 49 pilots for kids and adult programs that made their bow in that time, 17 have gone to series.

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The video streaming service will next launch new drama “Hand of God,” starring Ron Perlman and Dana Delany, on Sept. 4. And it also has two pilots debuting Friday: “Sneaky Pete” (originally produced for CBS) and “Casanova.”

And like Netflix earlier in the week, the Amazon executives stood by the decision to keep a tight lip on viewership data.

“Internally we talk about the quality of the shows 100 times more than the numbers,” Lewis said.

That said, and without revealing specific numbers, Price earlier in the day did say that the Michael Connelly drama “Bosch,” about an LAPD homicide detective, ranks as Amazon Prime’s most-watched series in the U.S. and Britain.

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And in a wink to the battle of Internet TV versus linear TV, Price joked during his opening remarks Monday: “I’m here to tell you we’ve moved ‘Bosch’ to Wednesday at 10. Just kidding! You can see it any time. It’s your schedule that matters.”

I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy

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