Apple’s Morning Show Drama Starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston Gains Director Mimi Leder

Apple’s upcoming morning show drama, which is set to star Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, will be directed by Mimi Leder, reports Variety.

Mimi Leder has directed TV shows that include “The Leftovers,” “Shameless,” and “ER,” along with movies that include “Pay It Forward,” “The Peacemaker,” and “Deep Impact.”

Image via Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock


The morning show drama doesn’t have a title yet, but it is based on Brian Stelter’s book “Top of the Morning” and is said to provide a look into the cutthroat world of morning TV.

Stelter’s book, for example, “reveals the dark side of morning television” with exclusive details on present and past morning show stars like Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, Ann Curry, Meredith Vieira, and more.

Apple has already ordered two seasons of the show, which was one of the first that it picked up. In addition to starring, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston will also executive produce.

Apple has more than a dozen television shows in the works, with details on each available in the original content section of our Apple TV roundup. Apple has not shared details on when its TV shows will launch, but rumors have suggested the first could come in March 2019.

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Apple May Create Subscription Service Bundle That Includes Original TV Content, Apple Music and News

Apple may be planning to develop a single subscription service that would offer customers access to its original TV shows, Apple Music, and digital magazines, according to sources with knowledge of the company’s plans that spoke to The Information.

Apple has ordered multiple television shows, ranging from comedies to dramas, but there has been no clear word on how these shows would be distributed.



Its first original shows, “Planet of the Apps” and “Carpool Karaoke: The Series” debuted in Apple Music as a perk for Apple Music subscribers, but that would not likely be sustainable for the more than a dozen shows that are in development, so it makes sense that a wider TV offering is in the works.

According to The Information, Apple will begin by launching a digital news subscription service next year, which will combine the Apple News app with magazine subscription service Texture, which Apple purchased back in March. Bloomberg in April also said that Apple was working on such a service.

Texture offers subscribers unlimited access to more than 200 digital magazines for $9.99 per month, with titles that include People, Better Homes and Gardens, Time, Forbes, Condé Nast Traveler, Allure, Billboard, Town & Country, ELLE, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Vogue, and more.

Apple eventually plans to bundle the digital news subscription service with both Apple Music and the video content that is in the works, but it is not known when Apple will provide the new subscription offering, nor what it will be priced at.

Apple is said to be planning to continue to offer each of the services on a standalone basis, suggesting a standalone TV service as well, and discussions are still underway about what its subscription services will look like, so a bundle might not ultimately come to fruition.

It isn’t clear if Apple would roll out some of its original programming for free initially and then bundle it with the other services, the people said. The discussions at Apple are still ongoing about what the subscription service ultimately will look like and could change, they said.

Prior rumors have suggested that the first of Apple’s television shows will launch sometime between March 2019 and the summer of 2019, which would mean a TV subscription service would likely come out around that time.

Apple has previously attempted to build a television subscription service that offers shows and movies from third-party content providers, but it was never able to establish the deals necessary to make that happen. With its own slate of original TV shows, though, Apple does not need to rely on deals with content producers to roll out a streaming TV service.

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Apple Plans English-Language Adaptation of French Show ‘Calls’

In the latest piece of news surrounding Apple’s original television content plans, the company has given a series order to an adaptation of the French series “Calls,” which aired in France beginning in 2017 (via Variety).

Created by Timothée Hochet, “Calls” is described as a short-form series that tells stories via snippets of audio taken from real-life situations, as well as through the use of minimal visuals. The show’s IMDb and official Facebook pages suggest that many of the episodes lean towards the horror/mystery genre as well.

Image via @callscanalplus on Facebook


It’s believed that the company will keep this format alive in the transition, but the content of the episodes remains unclear. Reports have suggested that Apple intends for most of its shows to eschew mature content in favor of a stable of shows that the entire family can watch — a decision that led to Bryan Fuller leaving as showrunner on Apple’s other series with horror elements, “Amazing Stories.”

For “Calls,” Apple has also acquired the rights to the first season of the French original, suggesting that the company also plans to offer the season as a streaming option on its upcoming service. The amount of episodes and cast members have not yet been revealed for the American version of “Calls.”

It’s been a busy month for news surrounding Apple’s TV content plans, as in the past few days alone reports broke about the company officially ordering Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s “Little America” to series, giving a straight-to-series order for a drama about child journalist Hilde Lysiak, partnering with Sesame Workshop on multiple kid TV shows, and even revealing a multi-year production partnership with Oprah Winfrey. Despite the ramp up of show announcements, Apple has yet to explain how users will watch its new TV shows, which are expected to appear sometime before March 2019.

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Apple to Develop Kids Programming in Partnership With Sesame Workshop

Apple is partnering up with Sesame Workshop to create a range of programming for children, reports Variety. The partnership was established by Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, who have been heading up Apple’s video efforts.

Sesame Workshop is a non-profit organization that develops educational children’s programs such as “Sesame Street,” a popular, well-known, long-running program for kids.



According to the terms of the deal, Sesame Workshop will develop live-action and animated series, along with an Apple-exclusive puppet series. Content created for Apple will be original and will not include “Sesame Street,” which airs on PBS and HBO.



Apple has already signed deals for more than a dozen original television programs, but thus far, the series it is producing have not included content for children.

Apple is, however, rumored to be pursuing a deal with Cartoon Saloon, which has previously produced animated films aimed at both children and adults, including “The Secret of Kells,” “The Song of the Sea,” and “The Breadwinner.”

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Kristen Wiig Drops Out of Upcoming Apple Comedy Series Due to Scheduling Issues

Kristen Wiig is no longer set to star in an upcoming Apple comedy series due to a scheduling conflict with “Wonder Woman 1984,” reports Variety. Wiig’s exit from the series and the reason behind it were confirmed by an Apple video spokesperson.

As was announced back in January, Wiig was set to play the lead role in a 10-episode comedy show based on the “You Think It, I’ll Say It” short story collection from Curtis Sittenfeld. The show would have been Wiig’s first regular television role since leaving “Saturday Night Live” in 2012.



Wiig is instead set to play the villain Cheetah in “Wonder Woman 1984,” which is set to be released in November of 2019. The first of Apple’s television shows have also been rumored to be debuting in 2019, explaining the scheduling conflicts.

Curtis Sittenfeld’s book features 10 stories that “upend assumptions about class, relationships, and gender roles in a nation that feels both adrift and viscerally divided,” according to its description on Amazon. According to Variety, Apple still wants to develop the series and the producers for the show are regrouping.

Apple has dozens of other television projects in the works at the current time, with a full list available in the original programming section of our Apple TV roundup.

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Apple Teams Up With Oprah Winfrey to Create New TV Shows

Apple has formed a multi-year production partnership with Oprah Winfrey to create shows for a new video subscription service that is in the works, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Apple and Winfrey did not share details on the kind of content that she plans to create, but in a statement, Apple said it would team up with Winfrey to “create original programs.”

Apple today announced a unique, multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey, the esteemed producer, actress, talk show host, philanthropist and CEO of OWN.

Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.

Winfrey’s projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple.

Apple has signed deals for dozens of original television shows, ranging from ranging from science fiction series “Amazing Stories” to podcast-based drama series “Are You Sleeping” to cartoon series “Central Park.” A full list of Apple’s TV shows can be found in our Apple TV roundup.

The first of Apple’s television shows may debut as early as 2019 and while Apple has not clarified how the shows will be distributed, today’s report from The Wall Street Journal suggests Apple is working on a streaming video service to deliver its content.

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Apple Close to Inking Deal With Cartoon Saloon for Animated Movie

Apple is working on dozens of original television shows and may also expand into feature films, with the company said to be close to signing a deal for an animated movie.

According to Bloomberg, Apple may soon sign a deal with Cartoon Saloon, an animation studio based in Ireland. While Cartoon’s Saloon’s movie has yet to be made, Apple is aiming to secure distribution rights for the United States and other countries.

It’s unclear how Apple plans to make the movie available, but a theatrical release, necessary to qualify for Academy Awards, is possible, one of the people said. Apple and Cartoon Saloon had no immediate comment on Thursday.

Cartoon Saloon has previously produced Academy Award-nominated animated films including “The Secret of Kells,” “The Song of the Sea,” and “The Breadwinner.”

Bloomberg warns that the talks have not yet finished and that the deal could still fall apart, but Apple’s discussion with Cartoon Saloon suggests the company is interested in content beyond TV shows.



At the current point in time, Apple has established deals for at least 16 television shows, ranging from science fiction series “Amazing Stories” to podcast-based drama series “Are You Sleeping.”

It is not yet clear how Apple’s television shows (and potentially films) will be distributed, but it does have a TV app where it recently made one of its first shows, “Carpool Karaoke: The Series” available to watch.

The first of Apple’s TV shows could see a debut as soon as 2019, though it’s not known if the content will be free, available as part of Apple Music, or distributed through an as-of-yet unannounced video service.

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Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul Joins Cast of Upcoming ‘Are You Sleeping’ Apple TV Series

“Are You Sleeping,” a drama series that will star Octavia Spencer, has picked up several new cast members, including Aaron Paul, known for “Breaking Bad,” reports Variety.

In addition to Spencer and Paul, “Are You Sleeping” will star Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Ron Cephas Jones (This is Us), Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds), Mekhi Phifer (ER), Michael Beach (Sons of Anarchy), Tracie Thoms (UnREAL), and Haneefah Wood (Nurse Jackie).



As has been previously reported, “Are You Sleeping” is a psychological thriller based on a novel written by Kathleen Barber. The book, also called “Are You Sleeping,” focuses on a podcast that reopens a murder case, similar to the popular “Serial” podcast that led to a new trial for Adnan Syed, in jail for allegedly murdering his girlfriend.

Sarah Koenig, who created and produced “Serial,” will consult on the “Are You Sleeping” series, which Apple gave a series order for in May. The show will explore how the reopening of the murder case impacts the people involved.

Octavia Spencer, known for her roles in “Hidden Figures” and “The Shape of Water” will play Poppy Parnell, the reporter who is aiming to uncover the truth behind a decades old murder through her podcast.

Paul will play convicted murderer Warren Cave, whose guilt is in question, while Lizzy Caplan will play twin sisters Josie and Lanie. Jones, known for “This is Us,” plays Poppy’s father, Leander “Shreve” Scoville. Perkins will play the role of Cave’s mother, while Phifer will play the role of Markus Knox, detective and friend of Poppy’s.

Beach plays Ingram Rhoades, attorney and husband of Poppy, and Thoms plays Desiree Scoville, Poppy’s opinionated older sister. Wood plays Poppy’s other sister, Cydie Scoville.

“Are You Sleeping” was written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman, and the series will be produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Chernin Entertainment/Endeavor Content.

It’s still not clear when the first of Apple’s television shows will debut, but rumors have suggested 2019 as an initial launch date. With casting in place for “Are You Sleeping,” it could be progressing to the filming stage in the near future.

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