Apple has lifted the veil on its first scripted series efforts: a drama set in the world of a network morning show and a revival of anthology “Amazing Stories” shepherded by Steven Spielberg and Bryan Fuller.
The straight-to-series orders for both projects are the first fruits of the effort to rev up Apple Video’s entry into the premium TV arena. The tech giant recruited former Sony Pictures TV presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg in June to head the production push, which aims to target a global audience.
One big question surrounding Apple’s video effort is the distribution plan. It’s unclear if Apple will make the shows available by iTunes or another platform, and whether access will be based on a subscription or advertising-based model.
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.
The project marks an impressive debut for Media Res, the venture launched in June by former HBO executive Ellenberg in partnership with Vancouver-based financier Bron Studios.
“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.