Apple’s Jennifer Aniston-Reese Witherspoon Series Adds Director Mimi Leder
Mimi Leder has signed on to direct and executive produce Apple’s untitled drama series starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon through studio Media Res. Leder joins executive producer and showrunner Kerry Ehrin. The series provides an inside look at the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning, exploring the unique challenges faced by the women and men who carry out this daily televised ritual.
Aniston also serves as exec producer through her Echo Films banner with Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Levy Neustadter through Hello Sunshine; and Michael Ellenberg through Media Res. CNN anchor Brian Stelter consults on the project, with his book “Top of the Morning” providing additional background material.
A television veteran whose credits include “The Leftovers,” “ER,” “The West Wing,” “Shameless,” “L.A. Law,” and “China Beach,” Leder is currently in post-production on the theatrical features “On the Basis of Sex,” which will be released in December from Participant Media and Focus Features. Her other film credits include “The Peacemaker,” and “Deep Impact.” Leder is represented by by CAA, Fourward, and attorney Barry Littman.
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.
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 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:
Our beautiful Reese graces the cover of the March issue of US Marie Claire magazine! In the interview they talked about the familiar themes of ambition, sexual harrassment, female empowerment, and of course A Wrinkle In Time. Accompanying the interview is a brand new and beautiful photoshoot – I particularly love the softness of the cover, it reminds me of 2003/2005 photoshoots. I love seeing Reese on another big magazine cover, and this one will be available to purchase on US news-stands from February 20th. Find snippets from the interview below, and high quality photos in our Gallery.
The award-winning actress, producer, and activist sits down with Marie Claire’s Editor-in-Chief to discuss her upcoming movie A Wrinkle in Time, diversity in the workplace, and the undeniable evolution of what it means to be a woman today.
I first fell in love with Reese Witherspoon when she strutted down the halls of Harvard Law School in 2001’s Legally Blonde as Elle Woods, proving so forcefully that a woman who cares about makeup and clothes can also be brilliant. I’ve followed Reese’s career ever since, from her Oscar-winning portrayal of June Cash in Walk the Line (2005) to her raw performance in Wild (2014), and I recently spent an entire Saturday binge-watching the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning Big Little Lies. Reese produced the latter two projects, in addition to 2014’s Gone Girl, under the auspices of her relatively new production company, Hello Sunshine.
Her mom once told her that if you wanted a job done right, you’d have to do it yourself. So, realizing the alarming and persistent dearth of meaty roles for women, Reese set out to create her own opportunities, lifting up other women along the way. With 23 producing projects in the works, it’s kind of a miracle she’s running lifestyle brand Draper James and a killer book club on Instagram. When I heard she’d landed a role in Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of one of my all-time favorite books, A Wrinkle in Time, I volunteered to interview her myself.
Anne Fulenwider: You’ve talked about how you’re proud of your ambition. Where do you get that from?
Reese Witherspoon: I get a lot of support from my husband [Jim Toth, an agent at CAA], who cares deeply about equality and always tells me,“Why wouldn’t you call the person in charge of a company and have a personal relationship with them?” He’s encouraged me to be outspoken. Oprah has encouraged me before I ever met her to be the best version of myself, through her book clubs, the people I saw on her show. [She’s been] an incredible advocate for me as a businesswoman.
Reese Witherspoon’s Second Act: Big-Time Producer From Oscar-winning actress to Emmy-winning producer: After taking charge of her career, she makes deals with HBO and Apple.
A few months ago, Reese Witherspoon realized everything had changed.
HBO’s glossy, seven-episode drama, “Big Little Lies” — which Ms. Witherspoon starred in and helped produce — won eight Emmy Awards, including the one for best limited series. From the Microsoft Theater stage in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, to swelling applause, Ms. Witherspoon spoke of how important it was to bring “women to the front of their own stories and make them the heroes of their own stories.”
Not long after that night, she found herself in demand.
“It opened a lot of doors for me,” Ms. Witherspoon said in an interview this past week. “People wanted to be in business with me as a producer in the TV space. My mission was to create television for other women, for other female storytellers that are actresses, other directors and other writers. I think it just clicked in people’s minds.”
Since then, Ms. Witherspoon has transformed herself from an actress increasingly frustrated with the roles she was being offered into a producer with a slate of projects that puts her in the company of series creators like Dick Wolf, Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy.
Last month, HBO ordered a second season of “Big Little Lies,” with Ms. Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, among the key companies behind the show. In addition, Apple has bought three Hello Sunshine projects as part of its push to compete with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu in streaming. That amounts to a third of Apple’s TV purchases to date.
One of the series — which is set to star Ms. Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston as hosts of a fictional morning news show — marks one of the most expensive deals in TV history: With a 20-episode commitment, Apple has pledged roughly $240 million to make it, according to two people familiar with the series. Ms. Witherspoon’s other two Apple projects will star Octavia Spencer and Kristen Wiig.
Apple’s top TV executives, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, said in a statement that Ms. Witherspoon had “an extraordinary knack for being a step ahead of the zeitgeist.”
The rise of Hello Sunshine — with projects centered on strong, complicated women — syncs up perfectly with the #timesup movement, which counts Ms. Witherspoon as a major player, and gives evidence that the risk-averse Hollywood establishment may have learned something from the blockbuster success of “Wonder Woman” last year.
“People are desperate for this kind of storytelling about the female heroes that have always been in the shadows and now are coming into the light,” Ms. Witherspoon said.
Legally Blonde 3
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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