Apple is said to be spending a couple billion dollars over 2018 and 2019 on the development of exclusive original programming. That’s a lot of TV! It’s nothing compared to the $12 billion Netflix spent on content in 2018, but it’s still a very big investment.
What can you get for a couple billion dollars? Apple hopes to attract some of the best talent in TV and film production, including huge stars and directors, and to lock down the television and movie rights to best-selling books. Though the company has only given us a glimpse at a handful of shows, the Hollywood trade press has uncovered many more through its reporting on deals from casting agents and production companies.
Updated 04/10/19: Prince Harry announced that he is partnered with Oprah on her previously-announced series dealing with mental health, which is scheduled to launch in 2020.
Apple TV+ will be available in the fall of 2019, exclusively through the new Apple TV app. Apple will update the TV app in the spring with a refreshed look and a handful of new features. More importantly, the TV app will come to Roku and Fire TV this year, as well as smart TVs from Samsung, Sony, LG, and Vizo.
Apple will call its streaming service for original shows and movies Apple TV+. This is a list of all its content for it that we know of so far, along with details about prominent stars, directors, producers, and release dates.
There aren’t a lot of companies in the world that can announce its new streaming TV service by bringing Steven Spielberg on stage to talk about how his production company (Amblin Entertainment) is going to revive one of his favorite anthologies from his youth.
The prominent director said, “The Amblin team and I will be resurrecting this 93-year-old brand and offering to multi-generational audiences a whole new batch of Amazing Stories. We want to transport the audience with every episode. Like the World War II pilot whose plane magically travels through space and time from the past and into the present day. Who will he meet? Can he return? Does he want to? What happens if he doesn’t?”
“It’s the universal human trait to search for meaning. So in these disconnected stories, we think the audience will find that one compelling narrative that will make the first season of Amazing Stories into a single thematic experience for them.”
Amazing Stories is almost certain to be one of the series available at the launch of Apple TV+ in the fall of 2019.
The Morning Show
Is Apple going to air a morning talk show? Not quite. The Morning Show is a drama about making a morning TV news show. It supposedly draws heavily from the book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV by Brian Stelter.
This new series stars Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell, which alone is enough star power to ensure a sizable audience.
Witherspoon explained on stage at Apple’s event that the show “pulls back the curtain on the power dynamic between men and women in the high-stakes world of a morning news show.”
It’s easy to imagine that what Sports Night was for SportsCenter, this show would be for the Today Show.
This is one of the handful of shows Apple has publicly announced, and we expect it to debut when the Apple TV+ service rolls out in fall 2019.
A futuristic, post-apocalyptic drama, See imagines a world where with no sight. A devastating virus wipes out all but a few million of the Earth’s population, and those that survived were stricken permanently blind.
The series takes place hundreds of years later, where humans have been without sight for so long that it’s disputed whether such a thing ever even really existed.
The series is written by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Dirty Pretty Things) and directed by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2). It stars Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Aquaman) and Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage, 12 Years a Slave, Captain America: Civil War)
Apple featured See at its March 25 event, with Woodard and a very excited Momoa on stage to tease the show. It will likely be one of the first shows available when Apple TV+ launches in the fall of 2019.
Fresh off their big indie hit The Big Sick, husband-and-wife team Kumail Nanjiani and Emily v. Gordon will co-write and executive produce a new half-hour anthology series about immigrants called Little America. They will share writing duties with Lee Eisenberg, who will serve as showrunner. Alan Yang, known as the co-creator of Master of None together with Aziz Ansari, will also executive produce the show.
It will be based on the true stories of immigrants, many of which were printed in Epic Magazine’s Little America series. It will focus not on the huge famous immigrants that have made worldwide impact, but the everyday lives and struggles that we all share. “These are human stories that feature immigrants,” explained Nanjiani.
Nanjiani took the stage at Apple’s March event to introduce us to the show, so it will almost certainly be a part of the Apple TV+ launch in the fall.
Big Bird took the stage at Apple’s March 25th event along with a new muppet, Cody (“a monster who loves to help”), to introduce a new children’s series called Helpsters.
Helpsters is an educational entertainment series aimed at preschoolers. The show is meant to help introduce toddlers to the simplest core concepts of coding as a means of helping people. The pitch is: Coding helps foster collaboration and critical thinking skill, and is an “essential language that every child can learn.”
Helpsters is one of several projects in the works in collaboration with Children’s Television Workshop, but is the only one that has been announced so far.
J.J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles are executive producers of this half-hour comedy/drama series. Variety reports that Apple has ordered a 10-episode season of the show. Variety says the series is described as a “love letter to the diverse musicality of New York which explores the universal journey of finding your authentic voice in your early 20s.” Bareilles is expected to contribute original music to the show.
Screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam, Corinna, Corinna) will write, direct, and produce the first episode, and act as showrunner for the series. The production companies will be Abrams’ Bad Robot and Warner Bros.
Little Voice does not yet have a release date. It was featured as a part of Apple’s March 25 event, and while Sara Bareilles performed the theme song live, there was no footage of the show in Apple’s sizzle reel, so it may not be very far along in production yet, and might not be a part of the Apple TV+ launch in the fall.
For All Mankind
In December, Deadline published an exclusive with a few juicy details of yet another Apple TV series. Written and created by Ronald D. Moore (best known for Battlestar Galactica), and co-executive produced by Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi (Fargo) the series explores what would happen if the global space race had never ended.
Deadline reports that Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, and Sarah Jones have all been cast in the series. Kinnaman is known for staring in the Netflix series Altered Carbon and the film Suicide Squad. Dorman stars in the Amazon series Patriot. Jones will play a role in the CBS series L.A. Confidential and starred in the Fox series Alcatraz.
For All Mankind was featured prominently in Apple’s sizzle reel for its March 25 “It’s show time” event, suggesting that it will be one of the first shows available when the Apple TV+ service launches in the fall.
Truth Be Told
Apple has tapped Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine to adapt the true crime best-selling book Are You Sleeping: A Novel by Kathleen Barber.
We don’t know a lot about it, except that the adaptation for TV is written by Nichelle D. Tramble (The Good Wife, Justified) and will star the excellent Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar for The Help and was nominated for another for Hidden Figures.
The story is about a hit podcast (think: Serial) that reopens a long-closed murder case in the public eye, and unravels the life of our protagonist, Josie, who had finally put her troubled old life behind her.
Truth Be Told has been picked up for a full 10-episode season.
Update 06/13/18: Variety reports that the show has added Michael Beach, Ron Cephas Jones, Aaron Paul, Elizabeth Perkins, Mekhi Phifer, Tracie Thoms, and Haneefah Wood to the cast.
Update 03/27/19: Truth Be Told appeared very briefly in Apple’s sizzle reel during its March 25th event. We expect it will be one of the first shows available on the Apple TV+ service this fall.
According to Variety, Apple has ordered a straight-to-series run of a psychological thriller produced by M. Night Shyamalan, the director known for writing and directing Unbreakable and a bunch of lesser movies.
We don’t know anything about the series yet, except that Apple has ordered ten half-hour episodes, and that Shyamalan will direct the first one but apparently, perhaps mercifully, none of the others. The series will be written by Tony Basgallop. Deadline reports that Toby Kibbell and Lauren Abrose will star in the show, with Rupert Grint, famous for playing Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, in a supporting role.
Update 03/27/19: This show appeared very briefly in the sizzle reel during Apple’s event on March 25th, carrying the name Servant. The one closeup of a woman holding a small infant tells us almost nothing about the nature of the show.
Home Before Dark
Deadline reports that Apple has agreed to a 10-episode straight-to series run for a mystery drama inspired by the life of pre-teen journalist Hilde Lysiak.
The series will be about a young girl from moves from Brooklyn to a lakeside town, where she gets involved in uncovering a cold case that the community has concealed. Dana Fox and Dara Resnik are the creators and executive producers of the series.
Lysiak runs Orange Street News, which features her writing and local reporting in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. At the age of 9, Lysiak made headlines beyond her neighborhood when she broke news on a murder in her town.
A release date has not been announced, but Home Before Dark was a part of Apple’s sizzle reel in its March 25 event, suggesting that the show may be a part of the Apple TV+ launch lineup in the fall.
According to Variety, Hailee Steinfeld (Pitch Perfect 2 & 3, True Grit) is set to star in the title role of a new comedy series about the early life of Emily Dickinson. It’s a 19th century coming-of-age story, written by Alena Smith (The Newsroom, The Affair). It has been reported that the series will feature half-hour episodes, though we don’t know how many episodes will comprise the single season ordered by Apple.
Variety says the show is described as, “a comedic look into Dickinson’s world, exploring the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of a budding writer who doesn’t fit in to her own time through her imaginative point of view.”
Update 08/30/18: Variety reports that Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, 30 Rock) has joined the cast as the mother of Emily Dickinson (played by Hailee Steinfeld).
Update 03/27/19: We saw a few glimpses of the show in the sizzle reel from Apple’s March 25th event, suggesting that it will be one of the first shows on Apple’s TV+ service.
First screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019, Hala is a coming-of-age story about a young Muslim girl. Apple acquired the distribution rights to the film, which currently has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 83% (based on the version screened at Sundance).
It’s unclear if the movie will go through further edits or touch-ups before seeing wide release on Apple’s TV+ service, but it will certainly be ready to go when the service launches in the fall.
Fans of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will be thrilled to hear that Rob McElhenney and co-star Charlie Day are teaming up to make a new half-hour scripted comedy series for Apple.
McElhenney will star in the show as well as write for it, and will be an executive producer alongside Day.
The show is set in a video game development studio; a comedy concept that has been tried numerous times before without much success.
Here’s an interesting wrinkle: The series will be produced by 3 Arts Entertainment and also…Ubisoft? Yes, the mega video game publisher is involved. We might expect that the show, if not set in Ubisoft, will at least feature plenty of Ubisoft game name-dropping and product placement.
Mythic Quest appeared briefly in the sizzle reel for Apple’s March 25th event, in a single character close-up that tells us next to nothing about the show. If Apple is ready to promote it by name, however, it may be ready for the launch of Apple TV+ in the fall.
Oprah, Apple. Apple, Oprah.
Apple concluded its March 25 introduction to its TV+ service with a special section dedicated to its partnership with Oprah. It featured a short intro film with the following text, accompanied by stirring music:
This is a moment in time unlike any other. And it seems there’s never been a better time for optimism, inclusion, and creativity. To inspire people to find common ground. And there’s one voice that has done this best. A voice that we have all been missing. A voice that when amplified, reminds us how much ideas matter. How much conversation matters. How much community matters. And the world needs more of what matters.
Then Oprah took the stage and described how she hopes that the two projects she has in the works with Apple will, essentially, heal the world.
It was a seriously overwrought and self-important moment from a company often criticized for making itself sound like the center of the universe.
Oprah has two documentaries in the works right now. One explores the tole of sexual harassment, assault, and violation in the workplace, with the working title Toxic Labor. The other has no name yet, and is a multi-part series that focuses on mental health, with an aim to end the shame and stigma of those suffer from mental health problems.
Oprah will also build “the biggest, the most vibrant, the most stimulating book club on the planet.” Apple will stream live conversations between Oprah and authors across devices and borders, even in Apple stores.
We don’t know yet when Oprah’s documentary series or book club will kick off.
Oprah and Prince Harry take on mental health
That second project of Oprah’s? The multi-part series on mental health? Her partner in that project (co-creator and executive producer) is none other than His Royal Highness Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex.
The Prince announced the partnership on April 10, 2019 on the Sussex royal family Instagram account with the following message:
We are excited to announce that The Duke of Sussex and Oprah Winfrey are partners, co-creators and executive producers on their forthcoming mental health series launching on Apple in 2020. The pair have been developing the series for several months and are looking forward to sharing such an important project on this global platform.
The dynamic multi-part documentary series will focus on both mental illness and mental wellness, inspiring viewers to have an honest conversation about the challenges each of us faces, and how to equip ourselves with the tools to not simply survive, but to thrive.
This commitment builds on The Duke of Sussex’s long-standing work on issues and initiatives regarding mental health, where he has candidly shared personal experience and advocated for those who silently suffer, empowering them to get the help and support they deserve.
His Royal Highness has spent many years working with communities throughout the UK and young people across the Commonwealth to break the stigma surrounding mental illness and broaden the conversation of mental wellness to accelerate change for a more compassionate, connected and positive society.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Apple has ordered an eight-episode miniseries called Lisey’s Story, which will star Julianne Moore. It’s an adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name, and Stephen King himself will write all episodes of the series. That’s quite rare.
The series will be produced by J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot, though besides getting an executive producer credit, it doesn’t appear Abrams will be directly involved.
Lisey’s Story has no release date yet, but with the ink barely dry on the deal (as of April 9, 2019), it’s very likely to be 2020 before it’s ready for streaming.
According to a report from Deadline, Apple has signed a two-season, 26-episode order for a new animated music comedy called Central Park. The show is produced by 20th Century Fox TV, and is the brainchild of Loren Bouchard (creator of Bob’s Burgers), Nora Smith (Bob’s Burgers executive producer) and Josh Gad (who voices Olaf in Frozen).
The show stars some top-tier voice talent, including Josh Gad, Kristen Bell, Titus Burgess, Stanley Tucci, Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, and Kathryn Hahn. The story, according to Deadline, is about how, “a family of caretakers, who live and work in Central Park, end up saving the park, and basically the world.”
Update 03/18/19: The New York Times reports that Central Park is in production and should be done “in the next few months,” so Apple could potentially release it along with Apple TV+ in the fall.
It looks like Apple wants to cash in on the “look at the fancy homes of fancy people” TV craze, with its own unique twist. According to Variety, Apple has ordered one full season of 10 hour-long episodes of a new show titled Home.
It’s billed as a documentary series, and is being produced by veteran documentary writer-producer duo Matt Tyrnauer and Corey Reeser, along with several veteran producers from Time Inc. Productions. It is said to “offer viewers a never-before-seen look inside the world’s most extraordinary homes, and delves into the minds of the people who built them.”
So it sounds like it will be more about design and technology than Million Dollar Listing or MTV Cribs. All the better to sell you nifty HomeKit stuff, right?
Update 03/18/19: The New York Times reports that Home is expected to be finished “in a few months,” so it could be ready in time for the launch of Apple TV+ in the fall.
Brie Larson CIA biography series
A report in Variety says that Brie Larson (sure to become a household name for starring as Captain Marvel) has been given a direct-to-series order by Apple to star in and executive produce a new drama.
The series is said to be based on the real life experiences of CIA undercover operative Amaryllis Fox, who has a hotly anticipated novel named Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA expected to release in October 2019. The book is already a hotly anticipated commodity, and a series with the star power of Larson will probably launch it to the top of the bestseller list.
There is no official title or release date yet for the series. Given that the deals have just been signed and the book isn’t even due out until October 2019, we’re not likely to see this one until sometime in 2020 or beyond.
Simon Kinberg and David Weil sci-fi series
According to Deadline, Apple has committed to a 10-episode season of a new science fiction series from Simon Kinberg and David Weil. Kinberg is known for his work on the Fox X-Men franchise, and Weil is the creator of the upcoming Amazon Nazi-hunting series The Hunt.
It appears to be very early days on the production—we don’t know what is will be called, what it is about, who will star in it, or when it will be released. Deadline’s sources say, “this is a large large budget, ambitious, character driven genre show that will go into production this summer.” This seems like it’s likely to be a 2020 (or later) release.
On the Rocks
The first revealed feature film in Apple’s big original content push is a major “get.” On the Rocks sees Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray teaming up again for the first time since Lost in Translation. According to Variety, the film follows a young mother who reconnects with her larger-than-life playboy father on an adventure through New York. We assume Bill Murray is the playboy father, and co-star Rashida Jones is the young mother.
The film will be written and directed by Sofia Coppola, and produced by Apple and A24.
On the Rocks has no release date yet, and it is not yet known whether the film will see a theatrical release or only appear on Apple’s streaming video service. Production was scheduled to begin in February 2019, so it may not be quite ready in time for the Apple TV+ launch in the fall.
Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Peanuts gang
According to a story from The Hollywood Reporter, Apple has won a bidding war with other media companies to use produce new original content with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the iconic Peanuts cartoon characters.
The deal is with DMX Media, a children’s digital media empire that bought rights to the Peanuts brand in 2017. DMX Media will produce the new content in cooperation with Peanuts Worldwide.
The report states that the deal includes the production of a STEM educational series starring astronaut Snoopy, but that is only “part of the partnership.” The new content will be exclusive to Apple. It is not clear if Apple has also acquired streaming rights to existing Peanuts cartoons (ABC has broadcast rights to A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown).
There is no release date for the Peanuts shows, yet.
My Glory Was I Had Such Friends
J.J. Abrams and Jennifer Garner are working together again for the first time since the show Alias.
A report from Variety says that Apple has made a direct-to-series order of My Glory Was I Had Such Friends. The limited series, based on the Amy Silverstein memoir about a woman awaiting heart surgery and the women who supported her, will star Garner and be executive produced by Abrams through his Bad Robot production company.
The series does not yet have a release date.
William Landay’s best-selling legal thriller Defending Jacobis coming to the small screen. Apple has placed a direct-to-series order for the show, which is said to be a limited series (meaning it probably won’t extend beyond a single set of 4-10 episodes).
The series will star Chris Evans, best known for his role as Captain America, as the father of a 14-year-old boy who is accused of murder. It is being produced by Paramount Television and Anonymous Content, and will be directed by Morten Tyldum, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2014 for The Imitation Game.
Update 03/20/19: A new report in Deadline claims that Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) and Jaeden Martell (It) will also star in the series. Dockery will play Laurie Barber, wife to Chris Evans’ Andy Barber. Martell will play their son.
Defending Jacob does not yet have a release date.
This summer, The New York Times Magazine published an epic feature titled, “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.” At over 30,000 words, it took up an entire issue of the magazine and earned critical acclaim. It focused on how, from 1979 to 1989, a small team of scientists, activists, and politicians tried to stop climate change while there was still time.
The New York Times reports that Apple has acquired the rights to a TV series based on the epic feature article, produced by Anonymous Content. The article’s author, Nathaniel Rich, will serve as executive producer together with Anonymous Content founder and CEO Steve Golin.
We don’t know the format the show will take, but The New York Times specifically calls it a “series.” Based on the source material, it seems like a single-season limited series makes the most sense.
Losing Earth (if that will be the final title) has no release date yet.
The Elephant Queen
Apple has acquired the rights to Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble’s documentary The Elephant Queen. Stone and Deeble embedded themselves for four years together with the family of a giant elephant matriarch named Athena. The film follows their journey as the watering hole that is home to her and her family dries up, and she risks taking her family in search of food and water, though they might not survive the journey. It is narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave, Doctor Strange).
The Elephant Queen does not yet have a release date.
Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon produces this tale about a young hunter who comes to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last pack of evil wolves, but instead befriends a wild native girl who runs with them.
Wolfwalkers does not yet have a release date.
The best-selling novel “Pachinko” follows four generations of a Korean immigrant family, following the line from Korea to Japan and finally America. The New York Times named it one of the 10 best books of 2017.
According to Variety, Apple has secured the rights to develop Min Jin Lee’s novel into a series. It will be written and directed by Soo Hugh, who was the showrunner for the first season of AMC’s The Terror. A later report in The Hollywood Reporter stated that Apple has moved from simply optioning the novel to ordering a full eight episodes. It’s not clear if it’s a single season of a multi-season arc, or just an eight-episode miniseries.
Pachinko does not yet have a release date.
Terry Gilliam’s time-traveling adventure comedy Time Bandits may make its way to the small screen in a two TV series. Deadline reports that Apple is buying up the rights to make a TV show of the cult classic film. The Deadline sources say that it will be co-produced by Anonymous Content, Paramount Television and Media Rights Capital. Terry Gilliam will have an executive producer role, but will not write for the show.
The film, about a young boy who gets caught up with a troupe of thieves as they hop across history to steal treasure, ever on the run from the “supreme being” from whom they’ve stolen their time map, is good fodder for a TV show. But the film has a dedicated cult following who will place high demands on maintaining the film’s heart and quirky sense of British humor.
A report in Variety says that the series will be directed by Taika Waititi, whose quirky film What We Do in the Shadows earned him a cult following, and who earned huge international acclaim for his direction of Thor: Rangrarok.
Time Bandits (if that’s even the show’s name) does not yet have a release date.
On the French premium cable channel Canal+ you’ll find a new series named Calls. It’s ten-episode arc for the first season consists of ten ten-minute episodes. Each consists of a playback of an audio recording—an airplane black box, a voicemail, a 911 call—that depict some sort of tragedy. They all tie to together to tell the story of some sort of impending apocalypse.
It’s a neat idea, if a somewhat odd format. According to Variety, Apple has now bought the rights to make an English-language version, along with the rights to the first season of the French version. You can see a trailer for the French version below.
Calls has no release date yet.
Children’s programming from Sesame Workshop
No, it’s not Sesame Street, but it might be close. According to Variety, Apple has struck a deal with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind Sesame Street, to produce children’s programming for its streaming service.
Nothing is known yet about the shows, but they very clearly won’t be Sesame Street (which has a multi-season deal with HBO and still airs on PBS). Variety reports that this is a multi-series order, including live action, animation, and even a new puppet series.
We do not yet know the names, themes, or release dates for any of these series, save for Helpsters (see above).
The hit novel Shantaram has a somewhat tumultuous history in Hollywood. According to Variety, the book was first to be developed as a film, with Johnny Depp having acquired the book rights and Warner Bros. producing with Joel Edgerton in the starring role. Then, the plans were scrapped and the rights auctioned off, with Anonymous Content and Paramount Television winning the rights to Shantaram and its sequel novel The Mountain Shadow.
Now, Variety says, Apple has won the rights to develop the series. Eric Warren Singer (American Hustle, The International) will write and executive produce the series.
Gregory David Roberts’ novel tells the story of Lin, an escaped convict from a maximum security Australian prison. On the run and cut off from friends and family, he disappears into the Bombay underground in India.
Shantaram does not yet have a release date.
Of all Isaac Asimov’s famous science fiction work, none is as sprawling, weighty, or influential as the Foundation series. The original book trilogy (part of which was originally published as a short story series in sci-fi magazine Astounding) was published in the 1950s, and has served as influential fodder for a lot of the science fiction that followed.
Last year, Skydance Television landed the rights to make a TV series adaptation of Foundation from the Asimov estate. David S. Goyer (who has writing credits on Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) and Josh Friedman (who is working with James Cameron on his Avatar sequel and a Terminator reboot) will serve as executive producers and showrunners.
According to a scoop from Deadline, Apple landed a straight-to-series deal for the show, but we don’t know much more about it yet.
Foundation does not yet have a release date.
Swagger: A drama series based on Kevin Durant
According to Variety, Apple is developing a drama series based on the early life and career of NBA superstar Kevin Durant. Inspired by Durant’s youth basketball experiences, Variety says “it will explore the world of Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball and the lives of the players, their families, and coaches.”
The series will be produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Television along with Durant’s Thirty Five Media. It will be written and directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood, best known for the TV series Shots Fired and for writing the Notorious B.I.G. biopic Notorious.
We should note that Durant currently plays for the Golden State Warriors, of which Apple VP Eddy Cue is a huge superfan.
Swagger does not yet have a projected release date.
You Think It, I’ll Say It
SNL alum Kristen Wiig is set to star in her first regular TV gig since leaving SNL in 2012. According to Variety, Apple has ordered a 10-episode, half-hour run of a new comedy variety show staring Wiig.
The show is created and produced by Colleen McGuinness (30 Rock, About a Boy) and is inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld’s collection of short stories You Think It, I’ll Say It (which isn’t even out yet).
This is the third Apple series to be produced by Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine.
Update 06/20/18: Deadline reports that Kristen Wiig has pulled out of this project, citing scheduling conflicts with Wonder Woman 1984 (she plays the villain Cheetah in the film). The publication’s sources say that the series hasn’t been cancelled yet, and “producers are regrouping” to try to continue with the project.
This project does not yet have a title or release date.
Damien Chazelle drama series
According to Variety, Apple has gone straight-to-series (ordered a whole season of a series without first shooting a pilot) on a drama by Damien Chazelle. Chazelle is the acclaimed writer and director of La La Land and Whiplash, and is currently working on a Neil Armstrong biopic called First Man.
No details have been given about the series at all, except that Chazelle will write and direct every episode. We don’t know the subject matter, the stars, the length of each episode…really nothing at all.
There is no release date set for this series, but considering that Chazelle is currently in production on First Man (set to release in theaters on October 12, 2018), it’s probably a long ways out.
Waaay back in early 2016, word dropped about Apple’s first homegrown TV series.
Called Vital Signs and produced by Dr. Dre, it is said to be a six-episode miniseries where each episode focuses on a specific emotion (Vengence, Ego, Negativity, Innocence…). It’s also a semi-autobiographical tale of Dre’s life.
This was before Apple was dedicated to spending really big bucks on its own exclusive video offerings, and thus the series was originally conceived as a way to help promote Apple Music and drive subscriptions.
In the spring of 2017, star Ian McShane (Deadwood, John Wick), who plays Vengeance, said the series was going to release in August. Well, it’s now way past August and we haven’t heard or seen a thing about it. Not a trailer, release date, promotional art…nothing!
Either the miniseries is in big trouble and has to be drastically re-worked, or it’s just so good that Apple’s saving it for a big launch of its original TV programs or perhaps a new streaming video service. By all accounts, filming appears to have been wrapped up for a long time.
Canceled: Elvis Biopic
One Apple series we know is definitely not going to see the light of day is an Elvis Presley biography series. Rumor has it that, if successful, subsequent series would have focused on other pop stars like Michael Jackson.
It was in very early development at The Weinstein Company when the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. With no cast or crew signed up yet, it was a no-brainer for Apple to pull the plug.
Carpool Karaoke: The Series
James Corden has this great bit on The Late Late Show where he hops into a car with celebrities and they sing along with the radio. See? Celebrities do the things we do!
It’s usually a short six- or seven-minute segment that can be quite entertaining. You know, just the right thing to go viral on YouTube (as several segments have done).
What better thing to turn into a TV show that plays only on a music service, right?
Unfortunately, the tight, breezy pace of The Late Late Show segment doesn’t translate well to a series where each episode is about three times as long. Perhaps it only works as a “break” from the in-studio talk show. Perhaps the whole concept is just a bit old and boring. Maybe it’s Corden who makes the magic—he only hosts the first episode and the 19th and final one. For whatever reason, the hit segment simply doesn’t translate into a hit show.
None of this stopped Carpool Karaoke from winning a 2018 Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series.
Apple has announced that season 2 will begin streaming on October 12. The announcement was accompanied by a short video showing some of the guests for the new season. Jon Hamm! Muppets! Snoop Dogg and Matthew McConaughey! Weird Al and The Lonely Island! The formula hasn’t changed, so if you were into the first season, well, this is more of that.
Planet of the Apps
It’s like Shark Tank for app developers! Celebrity judges Will.i.am, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, and Gary Vaynerchuk sit through pitches by app developers who go on to try to earn big VC money.
It’s…not great. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Planet of the Apps, really. It’s just sort of boring. Each of the 10 episodes is nearly an hour long, and doesn’t manage to capture much drama about the developers or the challenges they face in bringing their ideas to market. It all moves too slowly, and feels crammed with “celebrity factor” where the developers should really be the stars.
The whole exercise feels like it was made for Apple (because Apple = Apps!) instead of for viewers who want to watch an entertaining show.
Planet of the Apps has 10 episodes in its first season, which premiered on June 6, 2017. It is not expected to appear for a second season.