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Audi And FX Unveil Their Odd "Untitled Jersey City Project"

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On: Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 2:42PM | By: Andrew W Davis

Audi And FX Unveil Their Odd "Untitled Jersey City Project"

I'm confused.

Audi and FX Networks have posted all eight installments—or "eight short-form episodes" that are "fragments of a larger story"—of their "Untitled Jersey City Project", a, um... project they plan to show on television as "eight, two-minute episodes during FX's Sunday primetime movies." But this is not the confusing part.

This is: It is described in press releases as a "jointly developed 16-minute short-form original drama featuring the all-new 2012 Audi A6", though it is actually a rotten Sopranos/Brotherhood rip-off that offers more screen time to the now-passed Ford Crown Victoria than any Audi (and when it DOES show the Audi it's being driven recklessly). Wait a second...

I got it! Carmakers aren't allowed to show irresponsible/dangerous/somewhat-spirited driving in their "regular" commercials by law or writ or whatever. But if you put that driving in a MOVIE then it's OK, even—I assume—if that movie is broadcast on the idiot box.

You might assume this is just snarkiness on my part, but you can watch the posted episodes yourself here and see what I mean. There’s speeding, swerving, fleeing from what might be the cops, the whole shebang. In fact, whenever the Audi is shown—apart from some nondescript interior shots in what is probably the Audi—it’s usually being raced or chased.

But don’t leave to watch them just yet.

Please revel first in FX’s “About the Show” as found—in its entirety—at its show-specific site:

“Untitled Jersey City Project is an experiment: it's a work-in-progress television drama.

“The eight short-form episodes of Untitled Jersey City Project are fragments from a larger story, with many of the story threads left unresolved. But from these eight episodes, this much is clear:

“The story is set amidst the fast-developing Jersey City waterfront, just across the river from Manhattan. A shining new city is being built on the edge of this gritty town. But while the glass office towers and condos are sleek and new, the rules of the game haven't changed one bit.

“Everyone here has something to gain—money, fame, power. Or they can lose big. Or they could end up dead.

“Frank George and his partner Ray Rahne have worked hard to get their small, progressive architecture office in New York City to the next level. Then they land the commission of a lifetime: to design a new stadium complex across the Hudson in rough and tumble Jersey City. They might be just across the river from Wall Street, but Frank and Ray are a long way from home.

“Their client is notorious developer Larry Tyerman. Tyerman is a bare-knuckle negotiator lurking inside a bespoke suit, with connections to everyone - and anyone - with the power to push his projects through. Union bosses, politicians, even the local cops - everybody owes him a favor. And nobody wants to be the guy standing in his way, not with this much money on the line. Rumor has it that the stadium project is truly make or break for Tyerman. Desperation hasn't made him a more patient man.

“Tyerman's major investors in the stadium project, a couple of rich young fashion victims from Taiwan, have a conflict of interest that could bring the entire project down—literally. Jersey City's progressive, hybrid-driving young city councilman, Philip Haney, is possibly on Tyerman's payroll. And his driver, a hulking figure named Tony Hello, harbors a secret of his own—a secret that might be Frank's only salvation.

“Then there's Jane Kaplan, a staff writer at The Ledger whose femme fatale looks are second only to her naked ambition. Does she know more than she's willing to tell Frank? And whose side is she on, anyway?

“Things come to a head when Frank gets a cryptic message from Ray, moments before Ray's fatal plunge from the 39th floor of the construction site. Did he jump? Or was he pushed?

“It will be up to Frank to piece the mystery together—and try to stay alive.

“Untitled Jersey City Project is a production of Studio Progress Films in association with FX.”

For those of you keeping score, the word “Audi”—or anything even remotely car-related—appears exactly… never. None times. Not at all. Zilch.

[And remember that it took you longer to read their “About the Show” than it does to actually WATCH the “show.”]

It would seem, then, that Audi’s involvement in this crass affair is one of those “many… story threads left unresolved” referred to, and the reason for their wasting valuable PR dollars in this fashion is one of the “fragments of a larger story.”

“They” say it this way: “‘Audi is excited to partner with FX Networks on this exciting new short-form original series,’ said Scott Keogh, chief marketing officer of Audi of America. ‘Since our inception, Audi has embraced creativity, innovation and new ways of thinking. What better way to engage with our progressive audience than through forward-thinking entertainment.’”

Maybe they should’ve done some “rearward-thinking” instead as a template for how to do this SUCCESSFULLY already exists. Granted, it WAS ten years ago or so, but if they wanted to see what could be done with an eight-part episodic series featuring a German car, they had only to look for BMW’s film series, The Hire (here!).

If there’s one thing THAT series DIDN’T need it was a lengthy “about” page of explanations and excuses. Oh, and “for the ladies”—a valuable demographic I hear—BMW had Clive Owen, too.

For now, though, I can only take heart in how awesome Audi’s involvement was as the “hero” car in the awesome (it deserves two) 2005 flick Transporter 2. If they wanted to show an Audi “in action” they had to look no further than this flick for everything they'd need to know about making one of their (relatively) boring cars—in this case Audi’s then-new flagship A8 W12 sedan—kick ass and take everything.

[Interesting side note: the original Transporter film (2002’s The Transporter) was written by Luc Besson, who—according to Wikipedia—was “inspired by BMW Film’s The Hire series.” Is that why character Frank Martin’s original car was a BMW? You decide!]

Come to think of it, Audi had the all-around-awesome Jason Statham in the driver’s seat in that movie, and he’s at least half-again the man Mr. Owen ever was. Ladies love him, guys want to be him (or at least not be beat up by him), and he’s box-office gold.

I say Audi nips this FX thing in the bud in favor of finding a slice of time in Mr. Statham’s busy schedule to put him behind the A6’s wheel for one installment of major whoop-ass. With my "formula", FILLING the requisite 16 minutes won’t be the hard part; cutting it DOWN to 16 minutes will be.

[And if they can’t get Statham, perhaps Mr. Owen is free. He already has the “audition” material in the can, some 80-minutes-worth, thanks to BMW.]

So there you go, Audi, I just laid out the perfect “project” for you, and it in no way involves any Jersey anything at all. You’re welcome. Just make sure my “points” come on the front end. I may be new to this Hollywood stuff, but I’m not THAT new….



dwalter | 10:53AM (Thu, Sep 29, 2011)

These were pretty bad, but I guess I shouldn't expect much from something that airs during commercial breaks of (most likely) terrible movies on Sunday afternoons/evenings on FX

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