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Apple has its first, well, bad apple.
Picked up straight to series late last year, Bastards was set to star Gere as one of two elderly Vietnam veterans and best friends who find their monotonous lives upended when a woman they both loved 50 years ago is killed by a car. Their lifelong regrets and secrets collide with their resentment of today’s self-absorbed millennials, and the duo then go on a shooting spree.
Multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Apple originally landed Bastards in a competitive situation with multiple other outlets bidding for the package from WME, Keshet (who produced the Israeli series), Fox 21 and Howard Gordon’s (Homeland) Teakwood Lane banner. Apple stepped up with a rich offer and won the bidding war. Gordon and Warren Leight (Law & Order: SVU) were poised to co-write the series and serve as showrunners.
Gordon and Leight collaborated on two scripts and, sources say, were met with notes from Apple about the show’s tone of vigilante justice. Sources say Gordon did not want to focus on the larger metaphor of friendship between the two vets and wanted to focus on the darker elements of the series, with Fox 21 executives backing the veteran producer. Leight departed shortly afterward and Apple, which multiple sources note is looking for aspirational programming, wanted to ensure the series was focused on the heart and emotion of the central friendship.
Apple and Gordon/Fox 21 could not come to a middle ground, and the tech company opted instead to release the project and pay a sizable financial penalty. Not long after, Gordon departed his longtime home at Fox 21 sibling 20th Century Fox TV for a rich overall deal with indie studio Sony Pictures Television. Bastards, which has been carved out of Gordon’s Sony deal, remains without a home. It is unclear if the drama — which was poised to have been Gere’s highest-profile TV role — will find a new home.
Bastards becomes the first scripted project to be scrapped under Apple’s heads of worldwide video and chief content officers Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg. The former Sony duo — who had a pre-existing relationship with Leight during his brief overall deal with the studio — arrived after Apple abandoned plans for what would have been its first-ever scripted offering: Vital Signs, a dark drama from Dr. Dre.
Bastards is the latest speed bump Apple has encountered after hiring Erlicht and Van Amburg more than two years ago to oversee its originals push. Apple’s first scripted comedy — an untitled project based on Curtis Sittenfeld’s short story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It — is currently on hold after scheduling issues prompted star Kristen Wiig to depart the series from executive producer Reese Witherspoon. Other series, including The Morning Show, Amazing Stories and Foundation, have seen showrunner departures.
Apple has slowly started to ramp up promotion for its upcoming TV streaming service. The media behemoth has yet to reveal when and how its original programming will launch, as well as how much it will cost, but it has recently released trailers for the Jennifer Aniston and Witherspoon drama The Morning Show and the Hailee Steinfeld entry Dickinson. Those are expected to be among Apple’s first series to debut as part of its Apple TV+ service.
Apple and Fox 21 declined comment on Bastards.
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