5:45pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Reese Witherspoon-Jennifer Aniston Apple Drama Replaces Showrunners
Apple has yet to launch a scripted series, but it has already replaced two showrunners.
Kerry Ehrin (Bates Motel) is poised to sign Apple's first overall deal and take over for Jay Carson (House of Cards) on the tech giant's Jennifer Aniston-Reese Witherspoon morning show drama.
Apple and production studio Media Res have parted ways with Carson following "creative differences" on the drama that offers an inside look at the lives of two morning show hosts. Carson was poised to pen the script and serve as showrunner.
Following the end of her deal with Universal Television, Ehrin will move to Apple with an exclusive overall development and production deal that includes showrunning duties on the untitled morning show project starring Aniston and Witherspoon. (She most recently reunited with Jason Katims and served as a consulting producer on NBC's midseason musical drama Rise.)
The morning show drama landed at Apple in a competitive situation with multiple outlets bidding. Apple handed out a two-season, 20-episode order for the series — marking its first order under new heads of video programming Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht. Brian Stelter's book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV — which was previously in development at Lifetime as a TV movie — will provide additional background for the show, which is based on an original concept by Media Res' Michael Ellenberg. Witherspoon and Aniston will also executive produce and co-own the show. Sources note the two stars are earning more than $1.25 million per episode for their starring and exec producing roles on the series and will also receive a cut of the show's back-end. The project marks Aniston's return to scripted television more than a decade after Friends.
For Ehrin, the move comes after she served as co-showrunner alongside Carlton Cuse on A&E's Psycho prequel TV series Bates Motel. Sources say Ehrin landed at Apple in a competitive situation with other studios vying to sign the veteran writer, producer and showrunner, whose credits include Friday Night Lights and Parenthood.
The morning show drama becomes Apple's second scripted original to change showrunners. Bryan Fuller (and Hart Hanson) exited Apple's Amazing Stories anthology in February. A replacement has yet to be named.
Ehrin's deal comes as streaming giant Netflix has been making an aggressive push to sign top producers to overall deals after forging nine-figure pacts with Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, Grey's Anatomy) and Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Crime Story). Rhimes and Murphy had both been in the broadcast studio system for more than a decade, at ABC Studios and 20th Century Fox Television, respectively. Netflix's aggressive payday has only intensified the war for talent among broadcast, cable and streaming outlets.
Ehrin is repped by Rothman Brecher.
Since hiring Van Amburg and Erlicht from Sony Pictures Television Studios, Apple has been on an aggressive buying spree, landing series from M. Night Shyamalan, Outlander's Ron Moore, La La Land's Damien Chazelle and a couple more from Witherspoon, among others.