'Foundation' Co-Showrunner Josh Friedman Departs Apple Drama (Exclusive)

Josh Friedman-Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Subject

There's a change at the top of Apple's Foundation.

Co-writer and co-showrunner Josh Friedman has departed the series based on Isaac Asimov's book of the same name.

Sources say Friedman's decision to exit the big-budget space drama was amicable. He and co-writer/co-showrunner David S. Goyer (Syfy's Krypton, Batman Begins) had always planned for one of the two to remain the boots-on-the-ground showrunner on the series from Skydance Television. Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) will now focus on his work in features, which includes the upcoming sequel to James Cameron's Avatar. He will remain involved as an executive producer. Goyer will now become the lone showrunner while also contributing scripts and overseeing the writers room.

Apple and Skydance TV declined comment.

Foundation tells the complex saga of humans scattered on planets throughout the galaxy, all living under the rule of the Galactic Empire. The drama landed at Apple in a competitive situation after Skydance partnered with the Asimov estate for rights to the book, which was among the influences for Star Wars and other sci-fi works. Asimov's Foundation trilogy has been developed multiple times for feature films and television, with HBO attempting to bring it to television with Roland Emmerich and Westworld co-showrunner Jonathan Nolan. Goyer and Friedman were attached as co-writers and co-showrunners when Apple committed to developing a script in April 2018. Four months later, it was picked up to series. The project was not among the scripted originals that were touted during Apple's presentation to Hollywood in March.

Foundation is the latest series exit for Friedman, a well-respected sci-fi writer whose credits include Fox's Locke & Key and NBC's Crossbones and Emerald City, as well as the features The Black Dahlia and 2005's War of the Worlds. Friedman revealed he was pushed out of TNT's Snowpiercer reboot as the cabler was looking for a showrunner who would be more "compliant." The drama — which remains without a premiere date after it was picked up to series in January 2018 — has since seen director Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange) quit and refuse to do reshoots amid a "radically different vision" from new showrunner Graeme Manson (Orphan Black).

For Apple, meanwhile, Foundation becomes the latest of its scripted originals to experience a showrunner shuffling. The highly anticipated Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon comedy-drama The Morning Show replaced showrunners early on, while Bryan Fuller and Hart Hanson exited the anthology Amazing Stories.

Foundation — like the rest of Apple's scripted originals — does not yet have a premiere date. Apple will launch its TV offerings "in the fall," the tech giant said.