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.
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:
Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington to Star in ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ TV Series
A star-studded adaptation of Celeste Ng’s best-seller Little Fires Everywhere has sparked a frenzy among TV buyers.
Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon are set to star and exec produce the limited with multiple premium cable and streaming networks bidding. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that a parade of network execs took meetings Wednesday at Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine offices this week in a bid to land the series.
Released last year, Witherspoon’s company snatched up the rights to Little Fires Everywhere shortly after its publication and brought it to ABC Signature Studios topper Tracy Underwood. The cable-focused arm of ABC Studios will exec produce the potential series, which has ignited a bidding war among those who have 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 series. (In a rare move, network execs went to the Hello Sunshine offices rather than producers hopping from network to network.)
The book follows the events that transpire after the controversial adoption of a Chinese-American baby divides wealthy Shaker Heights, Ohio — and specifically a landlord and her mysterious tenant, single mother Mia. Liz Tigelaar (Casual, Life Unexpected) 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. 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 for 2017.
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.
Hello Sunshine is dedicated to female authorship across all storytelling platforms, including film, television, books, social videos, and audio. The media company is founded by Academy and Emmy Award-winning actress, producer, and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon.
We’re excited to connect women (and men) to narratives told from a distinctively female perspective. We want the growing Hello Sunshine community of creators and audience members to feel seen and heard. Whether our audience identifies with a character from our book pick or with the heroine (or villain) from our TV shows, or strikes up a conversation sparked by our videos, Hello Sunshine’s mission is to show women as the flawed and often complicated heroes of their own stories. Hello Sunshine – the story starts with you.
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.
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