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Amazon Tries to Push Into Original TV Programming

The e-tailer tries to push into original TV programming
Coming soon to Amazon TV? “Alpha House,” with John Goodman
Coming soon to Amazon TV? “Alpha House,” with John Goodman

Betas, a television comedy from the producers of Heathers and King of the Hill, is Hollywood’s latest attempt to dramatize life in Silicon Valley. It’s about a pair of young startup founders and their ­larger-than-life venture capitalist (played by Ed Begley Jr., in a role the show’s writers based on quirky Facebook backer Roger McNamee). The pilot episode, filmed at a Santa Monica studio in March, includes the typical tech clichés, such as hopelessly nerdy engineers who can’t approach women and spend more time chatting over beers than keyboards.

The twist: Betas is being financed by Amazon.com. When the pilot debuts this spring on the site’s Instant Video service, viewership and reviews will determine whether the creators make more episodes. “At least we’ll get to step up to the plate and take a swing,” says director Michael Lehmann. “It’s a new network and a new way of doing things.”