Loosely based on Brian Stelter’s nonfiction book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, The Morning Show proved a big hit for the newly launched Apple TV +, with a stellar cast including Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell. In its first season, the show jumped straight in at the deep end, detailing the aftermath of a sexual misconduct scandal that finds TV anchor Alex Levy (Aniston) losing her longtime screen partner (Carell) and drawn into competition with rising star Bradley Jackson (Witherspoon).
Although the series seems perfectly tailored for the #MeToo era, The Morning Show was given the green light a full two years before its debut, suggesting a hint of prescience behind the project. Speaking at Deadline’s Contenders Television virtual event, however, executive producer Michael Ellenberg put that down to luck.
“Some of that’s just kismet,” he said. “It’s probably a basic lesson for all of us, which is if you think it’s really interesting and you’re really compelled by it, the odds are that there are a lot of other people who will find it interesting too, you know?”
Aside from the sexual politics of the workplace, Ellenberg reveals he was also drawn to the world of morning television itself. “I wouldn’t have thought when we were kids that the morning shows would still be this relevant and still as important [as they are],” he said. “What is it about these shows that has made them sustain over time, this odd mix of light morning banter and serious news? Culturally, that’s really interesting—it’s the one outlet that everyone can watch whatever your political disposition, this place where we all come together.”
Asked how she was able to process the ongoing complexities of the way the entertainment world deals with sexual harassment cases, showrunner Kerry Ehrin was frank in her response.
“Oh, from living through it,” she said. “I mean, I’ve been in the business a long time and… Y’know, there, there’s behavior in Hollywood that’s been taken for granted forever. Forever. It was a thing everyone just accepted, which is really horrifying to look back on. But a light got turned on. [Now] it’s a different environment, and it really, honestly, comes from education. It comes from people being educated. It was a huge shift.”
Check out the panel video above.
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