Sources told THR that Amazon has committed to a two-season order — eight episodes each — for the mafia drama, with each installment to be written and directed by Russell. The series is said to have landed at Amazon with a price tag of a whopping $160 million. Insiders told THR that Russell was seeking $1 million an episode just to hear the pitch, with Amazon now appearing to have agreed to his terms (though the initial pitch had the project eyeing a $20 million payday for 20 episodes). The project was first announced in August with multiple offers coming in for the package sight unseen at the time. De Niro is said to have scored $850,000 per episode for the series.
Scott Lambert, Alexandra Milchan and Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures (Russell's American Hustle, Joy) are attached to produce the show with Russell at the helm.
Russell's largest TV commitment to date is 2014's The Club, which was picked up with a 12-episode straight-to-series order at ABC. He quickly exited the project and the network reversed course on the series, which was poised to star Betsy Brandt.
For Amazon, the Russell package comes two weeks after the streamer ponied up what is said to be $70 million to land Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner's TV follow-up with an eight-episode straight-to-series order. The anthology landed at Amazon with six other outlets competing for the project, which like the Russell drama, will be produced by The Weinstein Co.
The Russell project comes as A-list talent continues to segue to the small screen, where many are drawn by limited episode counts, stronger creative and more time to explore the material and characters. On the TV side, high-level talent helps broadcast, cable and streaming outlets cut through the increasing amount of original scripted programming in the so-called "Peak TV" world where talent and recognizable IP are considered keys to breaking through the clutter.
The Russell/De Niro/Moore series comes after Russell earned back-to-back screenwriting Oscar nominations for Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. Moore recently won an Emmy for HBO's Game Change. De Niro, for his part, scored a supporting Oscar nomination for his role in Silver Lining Playbook.
CAA reps De Niro, Moore and Russell.