Apple has ordered a new TV series starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, as the tech giant’s push into original video content shows it means business.
Apple is late to the online streaming game, with its existing productions only involving reality series Planet of the Apps, which has not been well received, and a show expanded from James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke. Now, though, the company is preparing to take a significant bite out of the competition, with a $1 billion budget for new projects, to be spent by a dream team of execs that include Sony TV veterans Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, plus Channel 4’s Jay Hunt, who has given the world everything from Humans and Gogglebox to Sherlock and the newly poached The Great British Bake Off.
While Apple’s $1 billion budget pales in comparison to Netflix’s planned $8 billion investment this year alone, its trio is spending it wisely: its second original project is as star-studded as it gets, with both Witherspoon and Aniston exec-producing and starring.
The drama will centre around a morning TV show, a la Good Morning America, and is produced by Aniston’s Echo Films and Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. HBO’s former head of drama, Michael Ellenberg, is also an EP. There are no scripts yet, or a title, but Jay Carson, a supervising producer on House of Cards, will be on showrunner duties, while CNN’s Brian Stelter (who penned a morning TV book called Top of the Morning) are also attached.
Apple has ordered two seasons of 10 episodes, beating competition from both Netflix and Showtime. The series will come with a hefty chunk of buzz: it marks Aniston’s first major return to TV since Friends and comes hot on the heels of Witherspoon’s smash hit Big Little Lies, which was on HBO earlier this year.
It joins another impressive video project on Apple’s fledgling production slate: the rights to revive Steven Spielberg’s 1980s anthology show, Amazing Stories.