Television Business International

Apple sets first official drama series

Jennifer AnistonApple has officially signed off on its first drama series, the long gestating scripted series starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston (pictured).

The show will follow the staff and stars of a morning TV show in the States, and Apple has given it a straight-to-series, two-season order comprising 20 episodes.

Reports in the US describe the bidding war around the show was competitive with multiple networks in the mix, highlighting the clout Apple is bringing to market for original shows.

It has been suggested each episode of the Media Res-produced show could cost as much as US$10 million.

Media Res is the prodco former HBO drama chief Michael Ellenberg launched after leaving the Time Warner-owned premium cable channel.

Ellenberg will produce alongside Aniston’s Echo Films and Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. Both Aniston and Witherspoon executive produce and take ownership stakes in the series, which is based on Brian Stelter’s book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.

Apple has also officially confirmed it has ordered Amazing Stories, its Stephen Spielberg anthology drama reboot.

The series will “will transport the audience to worlds of wonder through the lens of today’s most imaginative filmmakers, directors and writers”, according to Apple.

The tech giant’s move into original content has provided producers with and powerful and moneyed new client, but many broadcasters and SVOD services sees its entrance as a significant threat. Reports this week suggest Apple outbidded Netflix and CBS-owned Showtime to the currently-untitled Aniston-Witherspoon series.

It became apparent Apple was serious about its original content plans after it poached Sony Pictures Television co-presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack van Amburg.

Last month, the hire of former Channel 4 chief content officer Jay Hunt was confirmed to lead original video efforts in Europe.