Billy Crudup and Gugu Mbatha-Raw Join Apple’s Upcoming Morning News Drama

Apple’s morning show drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston is in the casting stage, and Billy Crudup and Gugu Mbatha-Raw are the show’s latest additions, reports Variety.

Crudup will play Cory Ellison, a “forward-thinking president of the network news division,” while Mbatha-Raw will play Hannah Shoenfield, a “whip-smart and charming” booker of talent.

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Mbatha-Raw is known for “Black Mirror,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” “Irreplaceable You,” and “The Cloverfield Paradox,” while Crudup is known for his roles in “Spotlight,” “Jackie,” “Alien: Covenant,” and “Justice League.”

The as of yet unnamed morning show drama will also feature Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, and, as announced earlier this week, Steve Carell, best known for “The Office.”

The upcoming show is based on Brian Stelter’s non-fiction book “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.” It will explore the drama-filled lives of the men and women who star on morning talk shows.

Apple has already signed on to air two 10-episode seasons of the show, which is being produced by Witherspoon and Aniston.

Apple has more than a dozen original television shows in the works, the first of which could debut in March 2019 through a rumored video service that Apple is planning to launch. At least some of the content included in the upcoming video service could be free to watch through the Apple TV app.

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Apple’s Upcoming TV Service to Launch in 100+ Countries in 2019, Starting With the U.S.

Apple’s rumored television service that is in the works to showcase its original TV shows will be available in more than 100 countries, according to a new report from The Information citing details obtained from three inside sources.

Apple is said to be planning to launch the service in the United States in the first half of 2019, with a global expansion to follow later in the year.



According to The Information, Apple’s original content will be made available for free to Apple device owners, a rumor we heard earlier this month from CNBC.

While Apple’s content will be available at no cost, Apple will encourage users to sign up for television subscriptions from other cable networks such as HBO or STARZ.

Apple has reportedly started negotiating with content providers about what it will pay to carry TV shows and movies, but programming is not expected to be the same in each country. It is also not quite clear how Apple content will be positioned alongside content from third-party services.

It is unclear how the original programming will appear next to media companies’ channels, which is an issue as some try to negotiate with Apple about getting their shows on the app, said another person familiar with these discussions.

By making third-party content available via the streaming service and launching it in most countries around the world, Apple will be able to better compete with Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, both of which are available in 190+ countries.

Apple has more than a dozen original television shows in the works, and some with high-profile actors and actresses that are likely to attract a number of viewers.

Apple has also inked deals with Oprah Winfrey and Sesame Workshop for new television shows, including children’s programs.

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Steve Carell to Star in Apple’s Morning Show Drama Alongside Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston

Steve Carell, best known for his stint on “The Office,” is joining Apple’s morning show drama, where he will star alongside Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, reports Variety.

Since the U.S. version of “The Office” ended in 2013, Carell has starred in a number of movies, but the morning show drama will mark his first return to television.

Image via Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstoc


Apple’s morning show drama was one of the first television projects that it greenlit, and details on the show first surfaced in November 2017.

Set to star Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, the show, which is still unnamed as of yet, is based on Brian Stelter’s non-fiction book “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.” It will explore the drama-filled lives of the men and women who star on morning talk shows.

Carell will play Mitch Kessler, a morning show anchor who is “struggling to maintain relevance in a changing media landscape,” according to Variety.

Apple has already signed on for two 10-episode seasons of the show, which is also being produced by Aniston and Witherspoon.

Apple has more than a dozen original television shows in the works, the first of which could debut in March 2019 through a rumored video service that Apple is planning to launch.

At least some of the content included in the upcoming video service could be free to watch through the Apple TV app.

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Report Claims Apple’s Original Programming Efforts Will Avoid Mature Content

Apple is unlikely to produce original content that contains gratuitous sex, violence, profanity, or risqué storylines, according to a report published over the weekend by the Wall Street Journal.

The article cites several sources familiar with Apple’s original programming plans who say Apple wants to avoid putting its name to anything that could risk tainting its wider brand image.



It also relates CEO Tim Cook‘s alleged reaction to watching Apple’s first scripted drama, “Vital Signs,” a semi-autobiographical tale of hip hop artist Dr Dre.

According to the paper’s sources, Cook previewed the show and was “troubled” by scenes depicting drawn guns, sex and drug use, and reportedly told Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine that Apple couldn’t show it.

Across Hollywood and inside Apple, the show has become emblematic of the challenges faced by the technology giant as it pushes into entertainment. Apple earmarked $1 billion for Hollywood programming last year. But in the tone CEO Mr. Cook has set for it, whatever Apple produces mustn’t taint a pristine brand image that has helped the company collect 80% of the profits in the global smartphone market.

Apple’s entertainment team must walk a line few in Hollywood would consider. Since Mr. Cook spiked “Vital Signs,” Apple has made clear, say producers and agents, that it wants high-quality shows with stars and broad appeal, but it doesn’t want gratuitous sex, profanity or violence.

Apple’s approach is in direct contrast to that of other streaming platforms, which have found great success in producing edgy content like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Netflix’s “House of Cards.” However, Apple apparently feels it has more to lose if viewers are offended by its entertainment offering.

“As a consumer-product company, Apple is especially exposed if content strikes a sour note,” said Preston Beckman, a former NBC and Fox programming executive who spoke to WSJ. “For Netflix, the only risk is that people don’t subscribe. With Apple, you can say, ‘I’m going to punish them by not buying their phone or computer.'”

Apple has hired former Sony Pictures TV executives Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg to head up the company’s broader push into original video programming. Erlicht and Van Amburg have helped produce shows like “Better Call Saul,” “The Crown,” “Sneaky Pete,” and more.

According to the report, Van Amburg and Erlicht have successfully pushed some edgier shows, including a series made by M. Night Shyamalan about a couple who lose a young child. However, Apple executives reportedly pushed for changes in the show because they didn’t want content to venture into religious subjects or politics.

Similar concerns over keeping content “safe” have reportedly contributed to delays in Apple’s original content streaming, which has been postponed twice and is now expected to launch in March 2019. However, one leading producer with projects at Apple expects the date to be pushed back yet further, according to the latest report.

Apple is known to have invested in at least 12 television shows so far. They include a new animated TV series called “Central Park” and an untitled morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. According to WSJ, however, the latter is delayed because of scheduling issues with Witherspoon.

Apple’s original TV shows are expected to be distributed through a new video streaming service, which could also be bundled with an Apple Music subscription and a digital magazine and news subscription.

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Apple Inks Deal for ‘Defending Jacob’ Series Starring Chris Evans

Apple has given a straight-to-series order for drama series “Defending Jacob,” which will star Chris Evans, known for his roles in “Captain America” and “The Avengers,” reports Deadline.

“Defending Jacob” is a thriller based on William Landay’s bestselling novel of the same title. The book covers the murder of a 14-year-old boy and his friend Jacob, who may have committed the crime.



According to Deadline, the tv adaptation is described as a “gripping, character-driven thriller.”

The series was created and written by Mark Bomback, known for the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy. Morten Tyldum, known for “The Imitation Game,” “Counterpart,” and “Jack Ryan,” is set to direct.

“Defending Jacob” is just one of more than a dozen television shows Apple has in the works. The first of the TV shows could debut as soon as March 2019, and the content may be distributed through an as-of-yet unannounced streaming service.

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Apple Acquires Rights to Two Films: Documentary ‘The Elephant Queen’ and Animated Cartoon ‘Wolfwalkers’

Apple has acquired the global rights to “The Elephant Queen,” a feature-length documentary about an elephant matriarch who leads her herd in search of a new watering hole to call home, according to Deadline.

Athena is a mother who will do everything in her power to protect her herd when they are forced to leave their waterhole. This epic journey, narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, takes audiences across the African savannah, and into the heart of an elephant family. A tale of love, loss and coming home.

“The Elephant Queen” was screened Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival, where top executives from Apple’s Worldwide Video Programming division are believed to be scouting out films. The documentary is directed by award-winning wildlife filmmakers Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble.

Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, two former Sony Pictures Television executives who lead Worldwide Video at Apple, reportedly led negotiations to pick up the documentary from Endeavor Content and Mister Smith Entertainment.

In addition, prior to TIFF, Apple obtained rights to animated film “Wolfwalkers” from Cartoon Saloon and Melusine Productions, according to Deadline. The film, directed by two-time Oscar nominee Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, centers on a young apprentice hunter named Robyn in a world of superstition.

In a time of superstition and magic, when wolves are seen as demonic and nature an evil to be tamed, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn, comes to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last pack. But when Robyn saves a wild native girl, Mebh, their friendship leads her to discover the world of the Wolfwalkers and transform her into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.

Bloomberg News first reported about a potential animated film deal between Apple and Cartoon Saloon back in June.



Apple has been steadily expanding its slate of original content in the pipeline, but these deals are particularly notable, as they represent the first two films the company has acquired, complementing nearly two dozen TV series.

Apple is expected to distribute its original content through a new streaming video service, along the lines of Netflix, starting in 2019.

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Apple Video Execs to Scope Out Movies at the Toronto International Film Festival

Apple executives in charge of the company’s video efforts will be attending the Toronto International Film Festival this week to scope out potential movie acquisitions, reports Variety.

The site says that at least one of the top programming executives, which includes Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, will be at the festival to look for new content that could fill out an upcoming entertainment service.



The Toronto International Film Festival is set to kick off on Thursday, September 6, and it will run through Sunday, September 16. This will mark the first time that Apple executives have attended the film festival, and the company will be competing with at least one other TV giant — Amazon. Amazon executives are also going to be attending the festival to look for new movies to pick up.

342 films are set to be shown off at the Toronto International Film Festival, with a list of content available on the website for the festival.

While Apple has more than a dozen original television shows that are in the works, it has thus far established few deals for movies.

In fact, we only know about one potential movie deal with Cartoon Saloon, a company that develops animated movies like “The Secret of Kells,” “The Song of the Sea,” and “The Breadwinner.”

Rumors have suggested that Apple is planning to launch some kind of streaming television service in the future where all of the television shows are in the works will be available, and if Apple is aiming to compete with Netflix and Amazon, exclusive movie offerings will help to fill out its content catalogue.

There has, however, been no concrete information outlining exactly how Apple is going to distribute its original content, nor details on what a potential streaming service could cost if it is in the works, but we may learn more next year as the first of the TV shows is rumored to be debuting in March 2019.

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Jane Krakowski to Star Alongside Hailee Steinfeld in Apple’s Upcoming Emily Dickinson TV Show

Jane Krakowski, known for her roles in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “30 Rock,” has joined the cast of Apple’s upcoming “Dickinson” series, reports Variety.

“Dickinson,” which Apple ordered back in May, is a half-hour show about the life of poet Emily Dickinson, who will be played by Hailee Steinfeld.

Also a musician, Steinfeld is known for her roles in “True Grit,” “Pitch Perfect 2,” “Pitch Perfect 3,” “Ender’s Game,” and coming of age film “Edge of Seventeen.”

Krakowski is joining “Dickinson” to play Mrs. Dickinson, Emily’s mother. In addition to “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “30 Rock,” Krakowski has also worked on “Ally McBeal, “Alfie,” “Ice Age,” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”

“Dickinson” has been described as a comedic look into Emily Dickinson’s world that explores the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of a budding writer who doesn’t fit into her own time.

For those unfamiliar with Emily Dickinson, she was a prolific American poet known for short lines, slant rhymes, and irregular use of punctuation. Much of her work focused on death and immortality, and she was known for living a reclusive life.

The show is being written and executive produced by Alena Smith, who was previously a writer on “The Affair” and “The Newsroom.” David Gordon Green, known for “Stronger,” Red Oaks,” “Vice Principals,” and “Pineapple Express” will direct.

“Dickinson” is just one of more than a dozen television shows Apple has in the works. Several of the shows are now in the casting stages, including an untitled space drama from Ronald D. Moore that will star Joel Kinnaman, “Are You Sleeping” starring Octavia Spencer, world-building drama “See” that will star Jason Momoa, and a series based on child journalist Hilde Lysiak starring Brooklynn Prince.

Rumors have suggested that we’ll see the first of Apple’s television shows debut in March 2019. It’s not yet entirely clear how Apple plans to distribute the TV shows, but given the sheer number of different shows in the works, it’s likely Apple plans to introduce a new streaming service based on its original content.

According to a June report from The Information Apple is considering building a bundle that would include access to original TV content, Apple Music, and news and digital magazines for one monthly fee.

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