Apple is making an official entry into the scripted series arena under Jamie Erlicht & Zack Van Amburg, heads of the recently formed worldwide video programming division. In a competitive situation, with multiple networks pursuing, Apple has landed the hot morning show drama series project, executive produced by and starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, with a two-season, straight-to-series order. It is one of the first two original scripted series at Apple, along with Amazing Stories, a reimagining of the anthology from Steven Spielberg and Bryan Fuller, which has closed a deal for a straight-to-series order.
Apple is believed to be employing a model similar to Netflix’s, with straight-to-series orders and premiums over cost, which vary from show to show. Coincidentally, Netflix also made a splash in the original scripted series space by outbidding traditional networks with a two-season straight-to-series order for a hotly pursued drama package that had a big star attached, House Of Cards.
The morning show series, which will produce 10 episodes a season, comes from studio Media Res, with founder Michael Ellenberg also executive producing. Based on an original idea by Ellenberg, the series is written and executive produced by Jay Carson (House of Cards), who will serve as showrunner. It is described as an inside look at the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning, exploring the unique challenges faced by the women (and men) who carry out this daily televised ritual.
The drama marks the return to TV for former Friends star Aniston and a followup to the Emmy-winning first installment of HBO limited series Big Little Lies for Witherspoon. (A second installment is in the works.) The series also reunites the duo after Witherspoon’s guest star turn as Aniston’s sister on Friends.
Aniston executive produces through her Echo Films banner; Witherspoon through her Hello Sunshine production company, and Ellenberg through Media Res. Under the model employed by Media Res, Witherspoon and Aniston will have ownership in the series alongside the company.
Brian Stelter’s book Top of the Morning had been optioned to provide additional background material, and Stelter will serve as a consultant on the series.
Reimagining the original anthology, Amazing Stories, executive produced by Spielberg in partnership with Bryan Fuller, “will transport the audience to worlds of wonder through the lens of today’s most imaginative filmmakers, directors and writers.” In addition to Spielberg and Fuller, Amazing Stories is executive produced by Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey and Hart Hanson; and produced by Universal Television and Amblin Television.