Appropriately, Garry Trudeau opened with a joke when he welcomed the audience of journalists, execs and stars who showed up to the premiere of his new Amazon show, Alpha House. "Thank you all so much for coming," he said. "A year ago if I'd been invited to an evening of Internet content, I'm pretty sure I'd have stayed home. And I'd also have wondered at the tragic turn John Goodman's career had taken."
Trudeau, Jeff Bezos, producer Jonathan Alter and the cast of the show were out to celebrate the debut of the new series, along with the New York partygoing set (Kelly Ripa, Jerry Seinfeld and Jeffrey Tambor, among others). The screening took place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—a hard venue to get since somebody left a glass of wine on top of a sarcophagus at a party for NBC's defunct theater-biz show Smash a few years back.
The cartoonist and showrunner said he'd pitched a show to Fox about the Internet, in which the livestream is the next big thing. Fox passed, and now Trudeau's new show about politics is available on streaming video from Amazon. More or less everything in the series has its basis in fact, from the legislator who sings his way through a filibuster (Al D'Amato) to the North Carolina congressman who ran for office on his sports record (Heath Shuler). The premise of the show—four representatives share a house in the District of Columbia—was inspired, Trudeau said, by a New York Times article.
Any idiot could see the potential for a sitcom, and it turned out many had," he said. On the subject of a potential TV show about their friendship, Dick Durbin told the Times that “the story of four middle-aged men, with no sex and violence, is not going to last two weeks,” but Trudeau was undeterred. "I got around that by adding sex and violence," he said. The show, he said, about conservative congressmen "assailed from the right" by Tea Party true believers, seemed timely based on Trudeau's reading of the political tea leaves in 2007.
"That Washington became even more dysfunctional during the filming of the series is just a happy coincidence."