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Nearly two years after signaling its intention to enter the scripted original arms race, Apple on Monday formally unveiled just how, when and which of its star-studded comedies and dramas it plans to release as part of its inaugural slate.
Apple CEO Tim Cook — joined by heads of worldwide video Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg — announced Apple TV+ during a nearly two-hour presentation before Hollywood’s top agents and Apple’s stars and showrunners including J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey that was live-streamed from the company’s Cupertino, California-based headquarters.
Apple has already spent upward of $1 billion on more than 20 scripted dramas and comedies, with more in the works. Of those that have been announced in the press, some have already completed production and will be part of the tech behemoth’s first-ever slate of originals.
Series from Aniston and Witherspoon (The Morning Show), Steven Spielberg (Amazing Stories), Abrams and Sara Bareilles (Little Voice), Kumal Nanjiani (Little America) and Steven Knight (Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard starrer See) and potential content from the Sesame Workshop and Winfrey (the latter pair each have content deals) were the centerpiece of Apple’s original video presentation. There were no trailers shown during the presentation, only a sizzle reel that included scenes from series like the Hailee Steinfeld entry Dickinson, The Morning Show and more. (Watch the sizzle reel, below.)
Apple TV+ will debut sometime this fall. The original content will be available across all Apple devices. The subscription service will be ad-free and available to watch online and offline, with new additions every month. The service will launch in more than 100 countries. Still to be determined is how much the service will cost and a formal launch date. The fall bow also means all of Apple’s star-studded originals will not be eligible for the Emmys until 2020.
Below are the originals Apple touted during its Monday upfront presentations as the company looks to disrupt the industry and challenge streamers like Netflix and Amazon.
(For more details on the Apple Event, read THR digital editor Natalie Jarvey’s report from Cupertino.)
Apple’s first official scripted order, the individual episodic anthology is a reimagining of Steven Spielberg’s original series that transports viewers to worlds of wonder through the lens of today’s most imaginative filmmakers, directors and writers. Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Once Upon a Time) serve as showrunners, having taken over for Bryan Fuller and Hart Hanson. The project hails from Universal TV and Amblin TV, with Spielberg attached as an executive producer. Edward Burns will star in and exec produce an episode. “[The series will explore] a universal human trait to search for meaning,” Spielberg said from the stage.
The Morning Show
Picked up with a two-season, 20-episode order, the series offers an inside look at the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning. Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon star in the drama. Brian Stelter’s book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV serves as background for the show, which is based on an original concept by Michael Ellenberg. The series hails from Ellenberg’s Media Res banner, with Aniston and Witherspoon both exec producing, along with director Mimi Leder and showrunner Kerry Ehrin (Bates Motel), who replaced Jay Carson on the drama. The project marks Aniston and male lead Steve Carell‘s return to series TV following Friends and The Office, respectively. “We take an honest look at the complex relationships between women and men in the workplace and engage in conversation that people are often afraid to have unless they’re behind closed doors,” Aniston said from the stage, alongside Witherspoon and Carell.
The 10-episode epic world-building drama is set in the future and hails from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence. Chernin/Endeavor Content produces the series; Jason Momoa (Aquaman) and Alfre Woodard head the cast. The series begins centuries after Earth was devastated by a virus that left only a few million survivors — who all emerged from it blind. The drama begins centuries later at which point the human race has existed for so long without sight that it is disputed if it ever existed, Momoa explained Monday. “See asks the questions you may have already started asking: How much of my experience of the world is visual? Without sight, would it change who I am? This is a world constructed unlike any we’ve ever experienced,” Woodard added.
The eight-episode half-hour episodic anthology is being written by Oscar-nominated The Big Sick writers Kumal Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon as well as Lee Eisenberg (SMILF), who serves as showrunner. Master of None‘s Alan Yang exec produces the Universal TV project, which is based on the true stories included in the Epic Magazine feature of the same name. The Apple series will go beyond the headlines to look at the funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring and surprising stories of immigrants in America at a time when they are more relevant than ever. Nanjiani noted the show covers the “full range” of human emotions, ranging from funny, romantic and thrilling. Every episode is directed either by an immigrant or the children of one. “We hope viewers understand that there is no ‘the other,’ only us,” he said.
Grammy- and Tony-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles is teaming with Bad Robot’s J.J. Abrams for a 10-episode half-hour dramedy. Described as a love letter to the diverse musicality of New York, Little Voice — which takes its title from Bareilles’ first album — explores the universal journey of finding your authentic voice in your early 20s. Bareilles will provide original music for the project, but it’s unclear if she will have an onscreen role. Jessie Nelson (Stepmom) will direct and write the first three episodes of the series after collaborating with Bareilles on the Tony-nominated Waitress. The project hails from Warner Bros. TV. Abrams previewed that the series is a funny and romantic show that examines the hard work behind a woman finding her voice through music. Bareilles performed the theme song from the stage.
Content from Sesame Workshop
The partnership includes a slate of children’s programming and will feature a live-action and animated show as well as development on a puppet series. (Sesame Street is not included and continues to air on HBO and PBS.)
Apple inked a multiyear content deal with Winfrey that includes everything from scripted and unscripted originals, podcasts, books, apps — and anything else the tech giant can distribute via its all-encompassing platform. Winfrey, who closed out Monday’s presentation, has two documentaries in the works for Apple: Toxic Labor, about toxic work environments, and an untitled multipart series about mental health. She is also bringing Oprah’s Book Club to Apple. Winfrey touted a long dream she’s had that she will bring to the tech giant: an live-streamed interview series with authors behind the books her club endorses.
Click here for a guide to all of the TV originals Apple has ordered in the past two years.
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