Reese Witherspoon will show her personal side in “Shine On with Reese” — the actress-entrepreneur’s first unscripted TV show in which she visits with female celebs and other trailblazing women.
The half-hour series is set to debut next week exclusively on AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse platforms on Witherspoon’s new Hello Sunshine channel. For the telco, the new programming initiative is aimed at attracting — and retaining — subscribers to its video services with a slate of content showcasing women’s stories and perspectives.
The nine-episode “Shine On with Reese” comes from Hello Sunshine, Witherspoon’s production company formed under a pact with AT&T and Chernin Group’s Otter Media in November 2016.
The first three “Shine On with Reese” episodes debut July 17, featuring Dolly Parton, Ava DuVernay and P!nk. According to Witherspoon, Hello Sunshine’s content is intended to be “entertaining, inspiring, thought-provoking and unabashedly real.”
“I am thrilled to have such like-minded, creative collaborators at AT&T to help Hello Sunshine pursue our mission of elevating and showcasing the voices of women that we have such admiration and respect for,” she said in a statement.
Subsequent “Shine On with Reese” segments will profile poet Cleo Wade and journalist Elaine Welteroth; Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles, and Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx; author-activist Glennon Doyle and athlete-author Abby Wambach; actress-activist America Ferrara; singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves; and Simone Askew, the first black woman named West Point’s First Captain.
Also coming to the Hello Sunshine channel: “Master the Mess,” which premieres Sept. 4. The 12-part series features decluttering experts Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of the Home Edit, a Nashville-based interior design business, giving makeovers to rooms in their clients’ homes.
The Hello Sunshine programming for now will not carry any advertising, said Valerie Vargas, AT&T’s senior VP of advertising, creative services and consumer marketing. “It really provides the ideal destination for female-driven programming. There just aren’t nearly as many women in writing and directing roles as there should be,” Vargas said.
AT&T will be tracking viewership and subscriber acquisition rates fueled by Hello Sunshine, Vargas added.
In a bid to attract DirecTV Now subs, AT&T is offering new customers of the internet-delivered TV service’s “Live a Little” entry-level package for three months at $10 per month (normally $40) with the promo code “SUNSHINE3” at att.com/hellosunshine.
“Shine On with Reese,” which began production in October 2017, will be exclusive on AT&T and DirecTV platforms for one year. “We’ve been heads-down making this show,” said Sarah Harden, CEO of Hello Sunshine (who previously was with Otter Media). One of the challenges was scheduling time with the interview subjects: “They are all incredibly ambitious and busy women,” said Harden.
The women featured in “Shine On with Reese” each have a personal connection to Witherspoon, said Charlotte Koh, Hello Sunshine’s head of digital media and programming. “The idea was to showcase women who have made notable achievements, but through the lens of Reese’s relationship with them,” she said. “There’s truly an intimacy, where you feel like you’re crashing a coffee date with Ava [DuVernay] and Reese.”
To watch “Shine On with Reese” and other Hello Sunshine programming, users can search “Hello Sunshine” on DirecTV Now, or tune to channel 1112 on DirecTV or channel 1530 on AT&T’s U-verse.
While AT&T obviously hopes the Hello Sunshine partnership helps boost subscriber metrics, more broadly it’s part of the telco’s brand-buffing effort to fund the development of programming from historically underserved filmmakers and creators.
Another element of the pact includes the AT&T Hello Sunshine Filmmaker Lab. Slated to run July 30-Aug. 6 in Los Angeles, the lab is a two-week immersive camp where 20 girls aged 13-18 will work with industry mentors — including Witherspoon — to create content for the Hello Sunshine VOD channel. The AT&T Hello Sunshine Filmmaker Lab is being produced in collaboration with Dreaming Tree Foundation (Fresh Films LLC).
In addition to the channel for AT&T and DirecTV, Hello Sunshine is producing feature films, scripted and unscripted TV shows, audio content, and social series, and also is the home for Reese’s Book Club.
Hello Sunshine projects in development include: a limited series for Hulu based on Celeste Ng’s novel “Little Fires Everywhere” from Witherspoon and Kerry Washington; a 10-episode comedy series for Apple created by Colleen McGuinness (“30 Rock”) inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld’s short-story collection “You Think It, I’ll Say It”; “Are You Sleeping,” also for Apple, executive produced by and starring Octavia Spencer, based on the true-crime novel by Kathleen Barber and created and written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman (“The Good Wife,” “Justified”); and an untitled morning show produced by and starring Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, which was given a two-season, straight-to-series order by Apple with Kerry Ehrin (“Bates Motel”) serving as showrunner.
Pictured above: Reese Witherspoon with P!nk in “Shine On with Reese”