Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
'Mozart in the Jungle': Amazon Studios Picks Up Classical Music Tell-All
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 06:00 PM
Mozart in the Jungle, oboist Blair Tindall's tell-all memoir of life as a freelance musician in 1980's New York City, will be made into a 10-episode series for Amazon Studios, Variety reported on Tuesday.
Sources close to the deal told the publication that "Mozart" is one of four pilots that Amazon Studios has green-lighted, a process that is based partly on viewer feedback. Amazon released a pilot episode of the show last month, complete with a tagline promising that "what happens behind the curtains at the symphony can be just as captivating as what occurs on stage."
Created by the heavy-hitting team of Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Alex Timbers, the series has a cast that includes Malcolm McDowell, Bernadette Peters and Lola Kirke as a young, impressionable oboist who comes to New York in search of a job in the symphony. Soon, she gets thrust into a world of hard drinking, drug use, big egos and racy encounters (it is rated TN-MA – for "mature audiences").
"Mozart in the Jungle" is loosely based on Tindall's 2005 memoir, subtitled "Sex, Drugs And Classical Music," which she wrote as she was transitioning from a career as a New York freelance musician to a writer and journalist. In the book, she spends her days whittling reeds in rundown apartments and her nights hopping between orchestra pits and the beds of men who might further her career. (Many critics focused on Tindall's kiss-and-tell adventures, perhaps overlooking a more serious story about the struggles musicians face in a cutthroat industry.)
Reviews of the Amazon pilot have been mixed, if generally favorable. Slate called it “sweet and charming if a little unformed." London's Telegraph observed that "the pilot is a bit of a mess" but "there's still promise here, in a soapy, alluring kind of way." The Los Angeles Times noted that the conductor character Rodrigo is an obvious parody of Gustavo Dudamel.
The 30-minute pilot, released by the online retailer's original video programming division, also features a cameo by Joshua Bell playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.
Writing on Facebook on Tuesday, Tindall praised co-writer Schwartzman, and added succinctly, "Omgomgomg."
Below is the series trailer: