Octavia Spencer Drama From Reese Witherspoon Nabs Apple Series Pickup
Octavia Spencer is officially headed to Apple.
The tech giant on Wednesday handed out a 10-episode series order to Are You Sleeping, a drama starring the Hidden Figures and Shape of Water actress and produced by Reese Witherspoon. The news comes four months after the iPhone maker put the project based on Kathleen Barber’s true-crime novel into development.
Are You Sleeping offers a glimpse into America’s obsession with true-crime podcasts. It challenges viewers to consider the consequences when the pursuit of justice is put on a public stage. Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife, Justified) created the project, penned the script and will serve as showrunner. Witherspoon will executive produce alongside her Hello Sunshine partner Lauren Neustadter, with Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Kristen Campo overseeing for the recently launched Chernin/Endeavor Content banner. Spencer and Tramble will also exec produce. Sarah Koenig (Serial) was a consultant on the project during its development but is no longer attached to the series.
All told, this is Witherspoon’s third series at Apple, joining the untitled morning show drama in which she will star opposite Jennifer Aniston and an untitled Kristen Wiig comedy series. The prolific producer also is an EP and stars in season two of HBO’s Big Little Lies and has Little Fires Everywhere set at Hulu. In addition to exec producing the latter, Witherspoon will also star opposite Kerry Washington in the limited series that landed at Hulu following a multiple-network bidding war.
Are You Sleeping joins an Apple roster that also includes Amazing Stories, See, a Ron Moore space drama, a Damien Chazelle drama and more.
For her part, Spellman is also set to co-write HBO’s controversial drama Confederate alongside her husband, Malcolm Spellman, and Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
Spencer is repped by WME; Spellman is with WME and Industry Entertainment; and Witherspoon is repped by CAA.
Reese Witherspoon to produce new podcast How It Is, hosted by Diane Guerrero
Reese Witherspoon has already begun taking over television, and now she’s moving into a whole new storytelling medium: podcasting.
EW can exclusively report that the Big Little Lies star is producing an original podcast, How It Is, which will focus on first-person stories from women about their lived experiences.
“How It Is will feature powerful, personal stories told by a diverse group of high-profile women,” Witherspoon’s media company, Hello Sunshine, said in a statement. “The episodes will present women — celebrities, activists and ordinary people with extraordinary insight — as experts on their own lives, claiming their power by telling their stories.”
Hosted by actress, author, and activist Diane Guerrero, the first season of How It Is will consist of five 30-minute episodes, featuring stories from Tarana Burke, Krista Tippett, Gabrielle Union, Glennon Doyle, Ellen Pao, Lena Waithe, and more. Some of the topics discussed in the first season include anger, power, and freedom.
“We are proud to bring these powerful and relatable stories from a wide variety of incredible women to life and to be expanding the Hello Sunshine brand to the podcast medium where we look forward to connecting with listeners on important topics and compelling stories,” said Sarah Harden, CEO of Hello Sunshine. The company is expected to introduce more female-centric podcasts to its slate in the future.
How It Is debuts April 25. The podcast will be available for download on Apple Podcasts.
Congratulations to Reese for her inclusion on eminent business magazine Fortune’s World’s Top 50 Greatest Leaders list:
The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders Our annual list of the thinkers, speakers, and doers who are stepping up to meet today’s challenges.
Though it seems unlikely, Tim Cook and Indira Jaising have something in common besides membership in Fortune’s 2018 ranking of the World’s Greatest Leaders. Cook (No. 14) is the wealthy CEO of Apple, the most valuable publicly traded company on earth; Jaising (No. 20) is an Indian lawyer who cofounded an NGO called Lawyers Collective, which promotes human rights issues. Yet they share this trait: Both have multiplied their organizations’ effectiveness by harnessing the power of unbundling. Following their example is a new imperative for the best leaders.
Gracie Awards: Ashley Judd, Issa Rae, Reese Witherspoon Among 2018 Honorees
Ashley Judd, Issa Rae and Reese Witherspoon, Hoda Kotb, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Katie Couric, Megan Mullally, Claire Danes and Norah O’Donnell are among the women who will be honored at the 43rd annual Gracie Awards.
Each year, the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation spotlights “prolific women in the industry who continue to inspire and support others, break down barriers and lead by example in creating opportunity for future generations.”
“In a historic and momentous year for women, on and off the camera and in front of and behind the microphone, the Gracie Awards arrive at an important time to celebrate the storytellers who are changing the narrative and pushing boundaries in the quest toward diversity and equality,” said AWMF chair Christine Travaglini, who also is president of Katz Radio Group. “And as we enter our 43rd year, we at AWM, through the Gracies, are incredibly proud help usher in a new era by honoring and celebrating outstanding talent and content for, by and about women.”
Winners will be honored at the 2018 gala — which supports the AWMF’s educational programs and scholarship campaigns that benefit women in media — set for May 22 at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, local and student award winners will be recognized later in the month at the Gracie Awards Luncheon, set for June 27 at Cipriani in New York.
Vicangelo Bulluck will serve as executive producer of the Gracies for a third consecutive year.
Reese and her A Wrinkle In Time co-stars and director can be seen on the cover of the March 21st issue of UK Stylist magazine – with a fantastic new book-themed interview and photoshoot! Read the interview below, find the photoshoot in our Gallery, and pick up a copy if you can….
Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon on the importance of feminist storytelling
Ava DuVernay, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling on rewriting the story books and the power of the written word.
“I recently got hate-tweeted by the President,” begins Oprah Winfrey, looking like the most relaxed woman in the USA. “Since then, I’ve been asked, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ Well, did you see that meme a couple of years ago: ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that’? I don’t have time for that. I’m not going to focus one minute of my energy on that. I’m going to stay in the light.”
“Things I don’t have time for: that,” laughs Reese Witherspoon, sitting opposite her. Mindy Kaling interjects: “If you’ve been to the Promised Land, which is where Oprah lives, and you think about whether she is going to spend time thinking about a tweet or if she’s going to live her life, you would understand why she doesn’t have time for that.”
As storytellers go, Oprah Winfrey is one of the greats (and yes, her home in Montecito, California, is called The Promised Land). But she’s also a long-time supporter of other storytellers, having launched the influential Oprah’s Book Club back in 1996 via her incredibly successful TV show.
In fact, in this room there’s a power quadrant of women who are determined advocates of books – Reese Witherspoon via her monthly Instagram book club and adapting numerous titles for the big and small screen (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber) through her production company Hello Sunshine; Mindy Kaling, author of New York Times bestsellers Why Not Me? and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?; and Ava DuVernay, the director of A Wrinkle In Time, in which all three star.
The trio play Mrs Which (Winfrey), Mrs Whatsit (Witherspoon) and Mrs Who (Kaling), three celestial beings and superheroes who guide a young woman of dual heritage across space to search for her father. It’s based on the book of the same name, which was finished in early 1960 but initially rejected by many publishers for being, as hypothesized by the author Madeleine L’Engle, a sci-fi novel with a female protagonist and blurring the lines between a children’s and adult’s book. Finally published in 1962, it went on to become a classic. As I write, the film is second in the US box-office charts to Black Panther – proof, should Hollywood need it, that films telling diverse and fantastical stories, that are told by all voices, are both necessary and profitable.
March 12, 2018 • Category: News & Gossip, Producing, Role Rumors •
Comments Off on Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington Starrer ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ Lands at Hulu
Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington Starrer ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ Lands at Hulu
Hulu has landed Little Fires Everywhere.
Following a multiple-outlet bidding war, the streaming service has handed out a straight-to-series order for the adaptation of Celeste Ng’s book with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington attached to star and exec produce. A premiere date for the eight-episode drama has not yet been determined.
Witherspoon’s company Hello Sunshine snatched up the rights to Little Fires Everywhere before its publication last year and brought it to Washington. Together, Witherspoon and Washington brought it to writer Liz Tigelaar (Casual, Life Unexpected) to adapt it and servd as showrunner. Hello Sunshine and Simpson Street then brought in ABC Signature Studios’ Tracy Underwood. The cable-focused arm of ABC Studios will exec produce the series alongside Hello Sunshine and Simpson Street. The package ignited a bidding war among those who heard the pitch. Sources note that several outlets attempted to take the package off the table, but Witherspoon and those involved insisted on letting everyone hear the pitch as they mull the right home for the project. (In a rare move, network execs went to the Hello Sunshine offices rather than producers hopping from network to network.) Little Fires Everywhere will be a co-production between ABC Signature and Hello Sunshine. It’s the first project on which the latter has served as the studio.
Little Fires Everywhere follows the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. The story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger in believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
Tigelaar will pen the script, exec produce and serve as showrunner. Washington and her ABC Studios-based Simpson Street banner-topper Pilar Savone will exec produce. Witherspoon will also exec produce via her ABC Studios-based shingle alongside Hello Sunshine topper Lauren Neustadter, who optioned the book with Witherspoon for Hello Sunshine. Author Ng will serve as a producer. The book was a September pick of Witherspoon’s book club and an instant best-seller, appearing on many year-end best-of lists.
“Celeste wove a beautiful, riveting story that spoke to all of us, and when we heard the vision Reese, Kerry and Liz have for the series, we knew immediately that we had to bring it to Hulu,” said Hulu chief content officer Joel Stillerman. “We’re honored to bring this powerful story to the screen with Hello Sunshine, in their first studio project. This is exactly the type of compelling and culturally relevant content that embodies our Hulu Originals brand.”
Little Fires Everywhere is the latest TV venture for Witherspoon. The actress and prolific producer also has the upcoming second season of HBO’s Emmy-winning Big Little Lies due in 2019, and is set to star opposite Jennifer Aniston and exec produce an untitled morning show drama that landed at Apple with a two-season order. The Oscar winner and Emmy nominee’s Hello Sunshine is also exec producing Apple’s Kristen Wiig’s straight-to-series comedy and developing Octavia Spencer starrer Are You Sleeping for the tech giant. Witherspoon is repped by CAA, LBI Entertainment and Hansen Jacobson. Hello Sunshine is repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson.
Reese can be seen on the cover of the new April issue of Marie Claire UK – it’s the same interview as the earlier US edition, but it has a couple of new photos from the shoot. I love this photoshoot, and I’m glad they’ve chosen a slightly different shot for this cover. Pick up a copy asap if you can, and find the scans in our Gallery:
Reese made an appearance on Good Morning America on Wednesday to promote A Wrinkle In Time. She chatted about her recent visit to her Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Time’s Up, the importance of representing women in film, Big Little Lies season 2, Little Fires Everywhere with Kerry Washington, and her upcoming Untitled Morning TV Show with Jennifer Aniston. Reese also received a special message from Dolly Parton who had been on the show last week; Reese mentioned that she “has a show coming on in about a month” in which she interviews Dolly Parton, so we’ll keep an ear out for more information on that in the coming weeks! Watch the interview below, and find screencaptures in our Gallery:
To celebrate our 16 years online, here we are spotlighting 16 of our favourite Reese things from the past 16 years. You will see a new one upon refreshing or changing the page.
"It took me years to be the woman my mother raised. It took me 4 years, 7 months and 3 days to do it, without her. After I lost myself in the wilderness of my grief, I found my own way out of the woods."
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