Reese Witherspoon-Jennifer Aniston Apple Drama Replaces Showrunners
Apple has yet to launch a scripted series, but it has already replaced two showrunners.
Kerry Ehrin (Bates Motel) is poised to sign Apple’s first overall deal and take over for Jay Carson (House of Cards) on the tech giant’s Jennifer Aniston-Reese Witherspoon morning show drama.
Apple and production studio Media Res have parted ways with Carson following “creative differences” on the drama that offers an inside look at the lives of two morning show hosts. Carson was poised to pen the script and serve as showrunner.
Following the end of her deal with Universal Television, Ehrin will move to Apple with an exclusive overall development and production deal that includes showrunning duties on the untitled morning show project starring Aniston and Witherspoon. (She most recently reunited with Jason Katims and served as a consulting producer on NBC’s midseason musical drama Rise.)
The morning show drama landed at Apple in a competitive situation with multiple outlets bidding. Apple handed out a two-season, 20-episode order for the series — marking its first order under new heads of video programming Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht. Brian Stelter’s book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV — which was previously in development at Lifetime as a TV movie — will provide additional background for the show, which is based on an original concept by Media Res’ Michael Ellenberg. Witherspoon and Aniston will also executive produce and co-own the show. Sources note the two stars are earning more than $1.25 million per episode for their starring and exec producing roles on the series and will also receive a cut of the show’s back-end. The project marks Aniston’s return to scripted television more than a decade after Friends.
For Ehrin, the move comes after she served as co-showrunner alongside Carlton Cuse on A&E’s Psycho prequel TV series Bates Motel. Sources say Ehrin landed at Apple in a competitive situation with other studios vying to sign the veteran writer, producer and showrunner, whose credits include Friday Night Lights and Parenthood.
The morning show drama becomes Apple’s second scripted original to change showrunners. Bryan Fuller (and Hart Hanson) exited Apple’s Amazing Stories anthology in February. A replacement has yet to be named.
Ehrin’s deal comes as streaming giant Netflix has been making an aggressive push to sign top producers to overall deals after forging nine-figure pacts with Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy) and Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Crime Story). Rhimes and Murphy had both been in the broadcast studio system for more than a decade, at ABC Studios and 20th Century Fox Television, respectively. Netflix’s aggressive payday has only intensified the war for talent among broadcast, cable and streaming outlets.
Ehrin is repped by Rothman Brecher.
Since hiring Van Amburg and Erlicht from Sony Pictures Television Studios, Apple has been on an aggressive buying spree, landing series from M. Night Shyamalan, Outlander’s Ron Moore, La La Land’s Damien Chazelle and a couple more from Witherspoon, among others.
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.
Reese and Oprah appeared on ITV’s This Morning earlier today – they chatted about their favourite messages from the film, the importance of female leads in this film, and pulling out their “inner warrior”. They then took part in a quiz on how well they know each other, and interviewer Alison Hammond presented them each with a framed picture – Reese’s was one of her favourite quotes “I’m gonna squeeze the juice out of this orange”! Here’s the video – it’s a fun interview!
Reese and her A Wrinkle In Time co-stars Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey appeared on The Late Late Show With James Corden on Monday. The three-some were joined by Storm Reid to perform a “4D” version of the movie, directed and narrated by James Corden – don’t miss Reese’s lettuce costume or mini-meltdown! During the interview Reese, Mindy & Oprah talked about Reese being an “over-planner” on the set of their movie by scheduling numerous activities for them, Oprah’s love of bathing, how Reese learnt to drive when she was 11, and briefly Big Little Lies season 2. Reese was her typical perky, hilarious self, and her impression of Mindy Kaling was brilliant! Watch clips below and find HD screencaptures in our Gallery:
On Tuesday evening Reese attended the London premiere of A Wrinkle In Time, looking fabulous in a powder blue dress by Elie Saab. Reese accessorised with Louboutin heels, Tiffany jewellery, and a bag by Edie Parker. She was accompanied on the red carpet by her daughter, Ava, who sported a brand new bob haircut. Following the premiere, a Q&A was held with the cast and director Ava DuVernay. On the red carpet and during the Q&A Reese talked about the message of resilience and self-empowerment the film promotes, and the importance of hope and resilience in the world. She also spoke about her admiration for young co-star Storm Reid. Watch the Q&A and a red carpet interview below, and find the first high quality photos in our Gallery. We’ll have more for you over the weekend!
On Sunday, Vogue UK hosted an afternoon tea in honour of Oprah Winfrey to celebrate her role in A Wrinkle In Time. Reese and her daughter Ava attended the private event at London hotel The Connaught, and were joined by co-stars Storm Reid and Mindy Kaling, and director Ava DuVernay. We have high quality photos in our Gallery for you:
Untitled TV Project with Jennifer Aniston
Little Fires Everywhere
Untitled Producing Project with Kristin Wiig
Are You Sleeping
Luckiest Girl Alive
Tiny Beautiful Things
Barbie origins project
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