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Hollywood producers talk about Apple's TV+ plans & 'The Morning Show' problems

"The Morning Show" (Photo: Apple)

Sources in Hollywood say that 'The Morning Show' was always going to be Apple TV+'s centerpiece but reveal its troubled history — and comment on Apple's limited library, its television inexperience, plus its interference with shows.

When Apple TV+ launches on November 1, it will do so with only a handful of shows, but the now much-publicized "The Morning Show" will be at the center of its offerings. In the two years since Apple began work on this drama series, though, it has had problems.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the "The Morning Show" production company and producer/stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon did not rate the first-draft script by showrunner Jay Carson.

It didn't help that the #MeToo plot element that now appears key to the series didn't feature at all, and that it was written at the time this movement appeared. Carson was soon replaced by the more experienced writer/showrunner Kerry Ehrin — and then Apple got a taste of how different television is to technology.

Carson filed with the Writers' Guild of America to be credited as sole creator of "The Morning Show," a title which typically infers considerable financial benefits if the show is a success. Apple, Aniston, Witherspoon and their production company reportedly objected, but the WGA ruled in favor of Carson.

"The Morning Show" was not the only series to change its showrunner. Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories" had such a change and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a similar move is soon to happen with "See."

Such changes and pressures are far from new to television production, but they may be new to Apple. For once, the company is relying much more on outside experience and facing new challenges.

"They didn't step in halfway," CAA TV agent Sonya Rosenfeld told The Hollywood Reporter. "They were smart to hire people who have spent their careers at the center of the TV business, and they didn't stutter start."

Apple also didn't skimp on budgets, either. "The Morning Show" reportedly costs $15 million per episode and Apple has a two-season deal which amounts to a total of $300 million. Similarly, "See" is believed to be costing Apple $240 million for two seasons.

The Hollywood Reporter also says that Apple is spending on the cast and crew talent, by giving every series regular and showrunner their choice of free Apple product.

Reportedly, Apple sends representatives to the sets of these shows to take orders. Unfortunately, says The Hollywood Reporter, Apple is also said to be sending representatives to sets in order to give orders.

Apple's interference is said to be why the original "Amazing Stories" showrunners left.

However, the company has seemingly not balked at adult language being used in "The Morning Show," so long as it is seen as essential to the storyline.

The Hollywood Reporter also says that Apple had a previous problem with adult-oriented fare, though, before this slate of Apple TV+ programming was created. Allegedly, Apple produced an entire series called "Vital Signs," created by Dr Dre, which has been abandoned over sex and violence issues.

Apple has not commented on the existence of "Vital Signs," nor did it contribute to The Hollywood Reporter's article.

Sources who did contribute on condition of anonymity, said that Apple's March launch event had been a disappointment. While it had a very strong lineup of cast and crew, it was light on details and footage — and especially so when compared to Disney+. In April, Disney+ was announced with its large library and specifics about its cost.

"Everyone was feeling like Apple threw the best prom ever," said an unnamed producer with an Apple show. "Then Disney came out, and everyone realized, 'Maybe it didn't.'"

Apple TV+ launches on November 1, and will cost $4.99 per month.