Apple's original TV shows: Everything you need to know!

Apple has spent the last couple of years filling out an executive team and buying up shows in an effort to build a slate of original content that it can offer customers. The people include executives from entertainment giants like Sony and Amazon. The shows include a drama that goes behind the scenes of morning shows and a sci-fi series from the creator of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica.

That's actually all we know for sure. Apple has said very little about its recent original content efforts outside the launches of Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke. The company has said nothing about how these new shows will be distributed, when they'll premiere, or how much it will cost to watch them.

In an effort to keep you up to date on Apple's continuing original content efforts, here's everything you need to know about them.

January 17, 2018: Kristen Wiig starring in 10-episode comedy series for Apple

Kristen Wiig will star in a new half-hour comedy series for Apple. The Reese Witherspoon-produced show is getting a 10-episode initial order, and is based on an upcoming collection of short stories by Chris Sittenfeld called "You Think It, I'll Say It."

From Variety:

The 10-episode, half-hour comedy is inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld's upcoming short story collection "You Think It, I'll Say It." It marks Wiig's first regular television role since she left "Saturday Night Live" in 2012. She will also serve as an executive producer on the show.

Colleen McGuinness created the series and will serve as showrunner and executive producer. Witherspoon will executive produce via her Hello Sunshine banner along with Lauren Neustadter and Wiig. Sittenfeld will serve as a consulting producer. This also marks Apple's first half-hour scripted comedy order.

Elsewhere, The Hollywood Reporter notes that the entry of Apple into the original content business has already had an impact on other studios and productions. Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, stars of HBO's Big Little Lies, have already leveraged Apple's content efforts into bigger paydays for the second season of the hit HBO drama.

The tech giant, estimated to enter the scripted genre with a budget of $1 billion in its first year, recently paid what sources say is upward of $1.25 million per episode to stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon for its 20-episode untitled morning-show drama. The eye-popping salaries also include fees for executive producing and points on the show's backend. And that payday directly impacted the recently announced second season of HBO's smash hit Big Little Lies, sources say.

Where Witherspoon and Kidman each received between $250,000 and $300,000 per episode for the first season of Big Little Lies, the pair, along with co-stars Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley, are getting substantial pay bumps for season two.

Sources say the duo is getting in the $1 million-an-episode ballpark for season two, as well as points off the show's backend and EP fees. Co-stars like Zoe Kravitz also are said to have scored significant bumps, with the actress' total season-one salary of $380,000 jumping to $3 million for the sophomore run. Shailene Woodley, who earned $1.7 million for season one, is also said to be getting a sizable pay raise. Season two of the show is being planned to shoot in the spring but won't air until 2019.

January 16, 2018: Apple bidding on J.J. Abrams sci-fi series

J.J. Abrams, the creative force behind Felicity, Alias, Lost, and Fringe — as well as the recent Star Trek reboot and Star Wars sequels — is heading back to television. And it might just be with Apple.

According to Variety:

J.J. Abrams has written a new sci-fi drama television series that is currently the subject of a bidding war between Apple and HBO, Variety has confirmed with sources.

Details of the project are being kept under tight wraps, but it would reportedly deal with a world's battle against a monstrous, oppressive force. Should the project move forward, it would be Abrams' first TV writing gig since "Fringe" in 2008.

Abrams would also executive produce, with Ben Stephenson–head of television for Abrams' Bad Robot Productions–also serving as an executive producer. Warner Bros. Television would produce. While HBO and Apple are the top contenders for the project, Warner Bros. is said to be open to other bidders.

Some of those series didn't exactly go out with a bang but all of them started with one. And that's the kind of attention and quality that'll help make Apple into must-see TV.

List of Announced Apple TV Shows

Untitled morning show drama with Jennifer Anniston and Resse Witherspoon

Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon will star in an as-yet untitled drama set behind the scenes of the highly competitive morning show industry. Apple has given this show a two-season order.

From Variety:

The untitled Aniston-Witherspoon drama hails from Michael Ellenberg's Media Res studio, Aniston's Echo Films and Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine banner. The starry project was highly sought after by a number of outlets and landed a two-season order (10 episodes per season) from Apple. Media Res, Aniston and Witherspoon are the principle owners of the show.

The series is based on an idea from Ellenberg and will draw background material from CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter's 2013 book "Top of the Morning," which recounted the recent rivalry between NBC's "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning America." Jay Carson ("House of Cards") is writing the pilot and will serve as showrunner. Stelter is serving as a consultant.

Given how many of Apple's current projects seem sci-fi based, picking up this show should really help round out the programming.

Untitled new sci-fi drama from Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica)

Coming from Battlestar Galactica's Ronald D. Moore, almost nothing is known about this series so far. Apple has given this show a straight-to-series order as well.

From Deadline:

Ronald D. Moore is heading back to space. Apple has given a straight-to-series order to a space drama from the Battlestar Galactica developer. The untitled project hails from Sony Pictures Television and Moore's studio-based Tall Ship Productions.

Created and written by Moore, along with Fargo co-executive producers Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi, the untitled series explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended. Tall Ship Prods.' Moore and Maril Davis executive produce with Wolpert and Nedivi.

A terrific concept from a terrific team. This could be the type of show that gets people to sign up and stay signed up.

Amazing Stories reboot

Exciting, right? In a deal with Stephen Spielberg's Amblin Television, Apple will produce at least 10 episodes of this sci-fi/fantasy anthology series. This is a reboot of a series produced by Spielberg in the mid-1980s.

From Variety:

"Amazing Stories" hails from Universal Television and Amblin Television. Spielberg, Fuller, Amblin's Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey and "Bones" creator Hart Hanson are exec producers. Spielberg spearheaded an earlier edition of "Amazing Stories" that ran from 1985 to 1987 on NBC.

The Apple iteration aims to enlist notable filmmakers and creative talent for each episode.

Amazing Stories occupies an almost Indiana Jones-style place in the hearts of many who came of age during the original series. Nostalgia, especially when it's linked to so influential a creator, can be a powerful attractor.

See (from the creators o Peaky Blinders)

It is. Another straight-to-series order, this world-building drama set in the future will be written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and directed by Francis Lawrence.

From Deadline:

In a competitive situation, Apple has landed the hot TV package See with a straight-to-series order. An epic, world-building drama set in the future, the project is written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and directed by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2). It comes from the recently launched scripted drama venture between Peter Chernin's Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content.

Peaky Blinders is grim but captivating. Another distopian future show among several, it's the quality of the writing and acting that'll have to stand out.

Are You Sleeping, starring Octavia Spencer

Based on the novel of the same name, this series starring Octavia Spencer follows a how the reopening of a murder case impacts the victim's daughter and starts to reshape how the world sees the victim.

From Variety:

Created and written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman, the series will be produced by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine and Chernin Ent/Endeavor Content.

The series is based on Kathleen Barber's novel of the same name, which gives a glimpse into the obsession with true crime podcasts and "challenges its viewers to consider the consequences when the pursuit of justice is placed on a public stage." Sarah Koenig, the creator and producer behind true crime podcast "Serial," will consult on the series.)

Crime stories, especially when given the room to really breathe, are proven commodities.

Home (documentary/reality)

The first documentary series from Apple, Home will consist of a 10-episode first season exploring extraordinary homes around the world and talk to the people who built them.

From Variety:

The series will 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. Apple has ordered 10, one-hour episodes of the new series.

"Home" hails from executive producers Matt Tyrnauer and Corey Reeser of Altimeter Films, Matthew Weaver, Ian Orefice and Bruce Gersh from Time Inc. Productions, and Joe Poulin, CEO of Luxury Retreats. Tyrnauer also directs the docuseries. Altimeter Films, Time Inc. Productions, and Media Weaver Entertainment produce.

Even if it's only Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous reimagined for the 2020s, the combination of wealth and reality TV should draw an audience.

Untitled half-hour comedy, starring Kristen Wiig

The first comedy series greenlit by Apple will be produced by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine production company and star Kristen Wiig.

From Variety:

The 10-episode, half-hour comedy is inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld's upcoming short story collection "You Think It, I'll Say It." It marks Wiig's first regular television role since she left "Saturday Night Live" in 2012. She will also serve as an executive producer on the show.

Colleen McGuinness created the series and will serve as showrunner and executive producer. Witherspoon will executive produce via her Hello Sunshine banner along with Lauren Neustadter and Wiig. Sittenfeld will serve as a consulting producer. This also marks Apple's first half-hour scripted comedy order.

People love to laugh, and it's good to see a comedy on Apple's production slate.

Apple's producing it's own TV shows?

Indeed they are. Of course, you may have already watched a couple of them. Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke both debuted in 2017, though there's been no word at this time on continuation on either of those series.

As for future content, Apple has been hiring executives and ordering shows over the last year to offer a solid, if seemingly-modest, slate of content to customers.

Does Apple have a team for producing new shows, or is it just kind of winging it?

Apple has hired a number of executives from the world of television to help jumpstart its own efforts. One of its biggest moves came in mid-2017 when it hiredJamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, both formerly of Sony. The duo has helped shepherd projects like Breaking Bad, Justified, and The Crown.

At the end of 2017, Apple hired three high-profile entertainment executives away from Amazon Studios. Tara Sorensen, the head of Amazon's children's programming, has made the move to Cupertino, along with international development exec Carina Walker and business affairs head Tara Pietri.

What kinds of TV projects are being developed? Are they all kid-friendly?

While we don't know the exact nature of every project that Apple's ordered, we can infer some things about what their content offers will look like.

There were some rumors towards the end of last year that Apple would focus on more family-friendly programming, and the hiring of Sorensen from Amazon certainly suggests that they want to develop those kind of shows. But looking at some of the other shows that the company has ordered, it seems a likely that there will also be shows geared more towards adults.

For instance, Apple has ordered two seasons of a new drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston set in the highly competitive and cutthroat world morning TV news and lifestyle programs. That doesn't exactly seem like children's fare. There's also the upcoming sci-fi drama series from Ronald D. Moore, currently the show runner of Starz's Outlander. Before Outlander, Moore developed and ran the remake of Battlestar Galactica. Both shows certainly contain their share of adult content.

So if you're worried that Apple's just going to market their service towards one type of customers, it's okay to calm down.

Is Apple going to start a Netflix competitor?

At this stage, we know so little about Apple's distribution plans that everything is pure speculation. While it would seem likely that Apple would offer a new service, the company has so far distributed its original shows, Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke, using Apple Music. Subscribers to that service are able to watch every episode of both shows at no additional cost.

But could they create a standalone video service, like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video? Apple has the infrastructure but, at least right now, the company is a little light on content, though that's bound to change. It also has a vast library of video content with the shows and movies on iTunes, but the company would have to cut deals to offer unlimited streaming on that content, rather than selling it all à la carte.

The most likely option, at least in the short term, is for Apple to keep doing what it's doing and associate its streaming video efforts with Apple Music. The company could bundle it in with the service, or even treat it as a paid add-on.

Where will we be able to watch these shows?

Again, this is an area that's a little fuzzy. That being said, if these shows to appear in the TV app on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad, I would personally be shocked. It comes pre-installed on all of those devices, and now that it has notifications, Apple can alert you whenever one of its original shows premieres or adds a new episode.

Any questions about Apple's upcoming original TV content?

If you have any questions about Apple's original content efforts, kindly leave a comment. Also keep coming back to this page, which we'll be updating over time as more information comes in.

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