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Amazon Prime Instant video beefs up choice of original shows

Shortly after ordering up six new original shows last week, Amazon has announced it has greenlit two more pilots for its Prime Instant Video service.

The web giant gave the go-ahead to half-hour dramatic comedy The Cosmopolitans and one-hour drama Hand of God for its third pilot season debuting later this year. Like they did with recent drama offerings fans will again have the opportunity to watch the new shows and vote on their favourites to help Amazon determine which should be turned into full series. Amazon said it plans to announce additional shows joining the third pilot season in the coming weeks.

The Cosmopolitans, starring Adam Brody, Chloe Sevigny, Carrie MacLemore, Dree Hemingway, Freddy Asblom, Shaun Evans, and Adriano Giannini, "follows a group of young expatriates in Paris searching for love and friendship in a foreign city," Amazon said. Written, directed, and produced by Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Barcelona, The Last Days of Disco), the pilot begins shooting this week in Paris.

Hand of God, meanwhile, "centers on the powerful Judge Harris, a hard-living, law-bending married man with a high-end call girl on the side, who suffers a mental breakdown, and goes on a vigilante quest to find the rapist who tore his family apart," Amazon said. "With no real evidence to go on, Pernell begins to rely on 'visions' and 'messages' he believes are being sent by God through Pernell's ventilator-bound son."

Written by Ben Watkins, Hand of God marks the small screen debut of filmmaker Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland, World War Z). It stars Ron Perlman in his first lead TV role since Sons of Anarchy, along with Dana Delany, Garret Dillahunt, Andre Royo, Alona Tal, Julian Morris, Elizabeth McLaughlin, and Emayatzy Corinealdi.

"We're very pleased to be working with Whit, Ron, Ben, and Marc on developing these pilots," Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. "The Cosmopolitans and Hand of God both contain rich stories and deep characters that we think customers will really enjoy. I'm looking forward to seeing our customers' reactions when they debut."

Amazon now streams more video than Hulu and Apple, but is still lagging behind rivals Netflix and YouTube, according to new data from online video delivery firm Qwilt.