Former soldier Graham Connor (Christian Cooke, “The Witches of East End”) gains entrée into the high-powered world of fine art in the official trailer for “The Art of More,” streaming service Crackle‘s first original scripted drama series. Created by Chuck Rose, it co-stars Dennis Quaid as ruthless real estate magnate Samuel Brunker; Cary Elwes as Graham’s mentor, Arthur Davenport, a collector of art and illegal antiquities; and Kate Bosworth as Roxana Whitman, an executive at one of two warring auction houses. All ten episodes debut Nov. 19 on Crackle.
Though it’s been around in one form another since 2006, when Sony purchased (and re-branded) the streaming video platform Grouper, the home to Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and stop-motion animated series “SuperMansion” is only now beginning to gain traction. The Associated Press, examining documents leaked in the aftermath of last year’s Sony hack, reports that Crackle became profitable in the most recent fiscal year, with revenues of $63 million. “The Art of More” is, not unlike WGN America’s “Manhattan,” Pivot’s “Please Like Me,” and Hulu’s “Casual” and “Difficult People,” an attempt to build name recognition—and viewership—in the increasingly competitive realm of original scripted content.
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The challenge, for Crackle and other relative upstarts, is earning the audience’s trust at a moment of in which the number of TV series worth watching far outstrips the average viewer’s time—a pressure the Sony venture, which relies not on subscriptions but sponsorships, advertising, and reselling content to overseas distributors, may feel more acutely than other digital outlets. One can now reasonably assume, for instance, that any new Netflix series is at least worth checking out, but that’s after years of popular and critical support for the likes of “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Bloodline,” “BoJack Horseman,” and “Sense8,” among others. Judging the trailer as a form of marketing, “The Art of More” seems to be aimed not at the niche audience for “prestige” dramas, but rather at fans of primetime soaps: less “The Red Violin” than “Scandal” with stolen art. Only time will tell if the gambit works.