Amazon Has Killed Jill Soloway’s TV Show About Judy Chicago’s ‘Womanhouse’

Judy Chicago seems to be everywhere right now, but she will not appear, as previously expected, in a new television series about “Womanhouse,” the groundbreaking feminist art installation she and Miriam Schapiro spearheaded in 1972.

Amazon has let the option on the proposed series, which was being developed by acclaimed showrunner Jill Soloway, expire, artnet News has learned.

Amazon passed on the pilot, a representative of Soloway’s company, Topple Productions, confirmed in an email. “We are in an exclusive TV deal with Amazon, so unfortunately there is no further plan for us to continue to develop,” the spokesperson said. “Amazon is changing their general vision and taste for a broader audience.”

Judy Chicago, Menstruation Bathroom (1972), part of the original "Womanhouse" installation. Photo courtesy of the Through the Flower Archives.

Judy Chicago, Menstruation Bathroom (1972), part of the original “Womanhouse” installation. Photo courtesy of the Through the Flower Archives.

“They optioned Through the Flower,” Chicago’s autobiographical book, the artist told artnet News, “then they bought an extension on the option, and then they said no. Everyone says ‘oh, that’s Hollywood’—I don’t know.”

Soloway, the creator of Amazon’s award-winning show Transparent and the recently canceled I Love Dick, based on the book of the same name by Chris Kraus, had announced plans to create a Womanhouse series in May 2016. No pilot was ever filmed.

Kevin Bacon as Dick and Kathryn Hahn as Chris in I love Dick. Photo Jessica Brooks/Amazon Prime Video.

Kevin Bacon as Dick and Kathryn Hahn as Chris in I Love Dick. Photo: Jessica Brooks/Amazon Prime Video.

Chicago, who was just named to the “TIME 100” list of the world’s most influential people in 2018, has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. In 2016, she joined the New York gallery Salon 94 and, last year, the Brooklyn Museum’s Sackler Center for Feminist Art, which houses Chicago’s The Dinner Party, devoted an entire exhibition to the making of the monumental feminist work.

“[Chicago’s] moment is finally here again, and everyone can see she is our legacy, our great, our modern Frida, the should-have-been Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol or whatever men got credited with inventing everything,” wrote Soloway in Time. “She deserves every ounce of this brand-new but totally necessary showing of attention, resources, and tons and tons of love.”

Laura Currie, Jody Quon, Judy Chicago, Doreen Renee, and Yvonne Force Villareal with the Prospect NY's new plates based on The Dinner Party. Photo courtesy of BFA.

Laura Currie, Jody Quon, Judy Chicago, Doreen Renee, and Yvonne Force Villareal with the Prospect NY’s new plates based on The Dinner Party. Photo courtesy of BFA.

Unfortunately, the renewed attention for Chicago’s work has coincided with a change in direction at Amazon Studios. The company has been open about its plans to refocus efforts on developing mainstream hits, rather than prestige programming. Amazon’s next big project is a television adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, with a reported price tag of $500 million.

Judy Chicago designing the entry banners for The Dinner Party (1978). Courtesy of Through the Flower Archive.

Judy Chicago designing the entry banners for The Dinner Party (1978).
Courtesy of Through the Flower Archive.

The change came after programming chief Roy Price quit amid sexual harassment allegations late last year. “Jill and her colleagues hoped that would lead to a more female-friendly climate, but unfortunately it ushered in a different administration,” Chicago said. “They canceled I Love Dick, they canceled Tig Notaro’s incredible series One Mississippi, and they said no to two of Jill’s projects—one of them unfortunately was mine—so I don’t know what’s going on over there.”

Jennifer Salke, formerly of NBC, took over as head of Amazon Studios in February.

See excerpts from a documentary filmed during “Womanhouse” below. 

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