Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon Morning Show Drama Lands at Apple With 2-Season Order
Following a multiple-outlet bidding war, Apple has emerged as the victor for a morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
The tech giant has picked up the untitled drama with a straight-to-series, two-season order (20 episodes total). Aniston (Friends) and Witherspoon (Big Little Lies) will star, exec produce and co-own the show alongside Michael Ellenberg’s Media Res company, which produces the show for Apple. Sources describe the pricetag on the show as comparable to other premium fare with big stars attached. As for how racy it will be, that’s still to be determined as there are no scripts for the drama yet.
The show is described as 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. 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 Ellenberg.
Aniston, who will make her first TV series regular return more than a decade after Friends, will exec produce via her Echo Films banner. Witherspoon, fresh off the success of HBO’s Big Little Lies, will exec produce via her Hello Sunshine company. The series is written and executive produced by Emmy-nominated Jay Carson (House of Cards), who also serves as showrunner. Witherspoon, who memorably guest starred as Aniston’s younger sister on Friends, have remained friends over the years with the morning show drama serving as an on-screen reunion. The package was taken out in July and drew interest from multiple outlets, including Showtime, sources say.
Since leaving his position as head of drama at HBO, Ellenberg has focused on development and has teamed with Bron Studios to launch Media Res. The company’s first project in the works is Scenes From a Marriage, a limited-series take based on the five-hour 1973 film, with In Treatment’s Hagai Levi and playwright Amy Herzog attached.
The Aniston-Witherspoon drama becomes Apple’s second straight-to-series order and joins Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories as the first projects the tech giant has picked up under programming heads Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht. The Amazing Stories anthology is execu produced by Spielberg in partnership with Bryan Fuller, who serves as showrunner. The drama will transport the audience to worlds of wonder through the lens of today’s most imaginative filmmakers, directors and writers. Amblin Television’s Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey and Hart Hanson exec produce the drama from Universal Television.
What remains to be seen, however, is just how Apple will roll out its original scripted series and if it could utilize its streaming music service to do so and if the company — with $260 billion in cash surplus — will turn assets like iPhones to market its programming.
Aniston, who earned five Emmy nominations and won one for her role as Rachel Green on NBC’s Friends, is repped by CAA, Lighthouse Management and Hansen Jacobson. Witherspoon, who has been active on the development side, won an Oscar for her role in Walk the Line and also scored a nomination for Wild. More recently, she scored an Emmy nom for her starring role in HBO’s Big Little Lies with the limited series likely to return for a second season after taking home the win in the category. She is repped by CAA, LBI Entertainment and Hansen Jacobson.
Carson, repped by Management 360, has been with Netflix’s House of Cards for the past three years, serving as a supervising producer and political consultant.
Stelter is repped by ICM Partners.
Reese spoke to Entertainment Tonight at the recent Wall Street Journal Innovators Awards, and talked about the award she was receiving that night, and Ava Duvernay and A Wrinkle In Time:
Following the announcement of her ‘Entertainment Innovator of The Year‘ accolade yesterday, Reese attended the Wall Street Journal’s Innovator Awards in New York City last night. She was accompanied by Ava, and also posed on the red carpet with her Sweet Home Alabama and Home Again co-star Candice Bergen. Reese wore a chic little black dress with embellishment from Giorgio Armani. Reese was presented with her award by designer and businesswoman Diane von Furstenberg, and in her speech, Reese spoke about her passion for developing female-centric projects. Watch Reese’s speech below and find the first HQ photos in our Gallery:
Another accolade for Reese was announced today – she is the Wall Street Journal’s ‘Entertainment Innovator of the Year’! Reese features on the front cover of their November issue, with a gorgeous new photoshoot and a fantastic, inspiring new interview. The interview focuses on Reese’s recent foray into producing, and features quotes on Reese from her husband Jim, and Nicole Kidman. Find the interview below – it’s a great read – and see photos in our Gallery. The magazine hits news-stands on November 4th so be sure to pick up a copy. Congratulations on this new honour, Reese
With projects ranging from her HBO series ‘Big Little Lies’ to her production franchise to her growing lifestyle brand, Witherspoon has become a force in female storytelling
THIS PAST MAY, Reese Witherspoon experienced the closest thing she’ll get to a college homecoming when she returned to Stanford University, where she studied English literature for a few semesters in the mid-1990s but never graduated. Students invited her to be the featured guest at the Stanford Graduate School of Business’s View From the Top speaker series and asked her about her multifaceted career as an Academy Award–winning actress, producer and entrepreneur. Afterward, she popped over to the dorms with her 18-year-old daughter, Ava, to surprise whomever lived in her old room. “I knocked on the door, and a girl was in there,” Witherspoon recalls. “She opens it and screams, ‘Oh, my God! My mom is going to freak out; she just loves you!’ ”
The trip down memory lane prompts Witherspoon, 41, to ponder what might have happened if she hadn’t left the university for Hollywood after freshman year. (She took a leave of absence in 1996 to star in Pleasantville and Election.) After a critically acclaimed debut at age 14 in 1991’s The Man in the Moon, why would an aspiring actress enroll at Stanford and move to Northern California in the first place? “I was never going to be an actor who lives in their car because their dream was so big. [If acting didn’t work] I would have gone from Stanford to medical school and become a surgeon. Right now, I’d probably be the premier surgeon and pediatric cardiologist at Vanderbilt University,” she says, pausing. “What? I’m just being honest. I’m ambitious, and I’m over hiding that.”
“Of all the nasty words I’ve heard that are used to describe women, the one that has the ugliest connotations is ambition,” says Laura Dern, Witherspoon’s friend and co-star in the 2014 film Wild and this year’s seven-part HBO series Big Little Lies. “I don’t know why that’s declared conniving for women, because I’m constantly inspired by Reese’s ambition. You have a dream? She makes it happen.”
In the past decade, Witherspoon, mother of three, top-earning actress, powerful producer and, most recently, fashion designer, has become a new face of feminist filmmaking. Last year, the New Orleans–born, Nashville-raised entrepreneur founded Hello Sunshine, dedicated to realizing stories about women. She had created her own production companies in the past, including Type A Films, founded in 2003 and later dissolved, and then Pacific Standard in 2012. But Hello Sunshine (which absorbed Pacific Standard) is poised to become a Hollywood juggernaut, spanning feature films, TV series and digital content. The Oscar-nominated movies Wild and Gone Girl , as well as Big Little Lies, which won eight Emmy Awards (including one for outstanding limited series), were all projects produced by Witherspoon from books she discovered and optioned. She’s the 21st-century version of silent film star Mary Pickford, known as the first America’s Sweetheart, who co-founded United Artists in 1919, at the age of 27, so she could distribute her own films, or Lucille Ball, the I Love Lucy star who became the first female head of a major studio when she bought out ex-husband Desi Arnaz from their Desilu Productions in 1962. However, whereas those pioneering women were looking for a seat at the table, Witherspoon is seeking a larger piece of the pie.Continue reading this entry »
In a new interview with USA Today, Nicole Kidman seems to confirm that there will be a season 2 of Big Little Lies:
Although it hasn’t been officially announced, she teases that a second season of Big Little Lies is “moving forward at a rapid rate,” and hopes it will start production early next year.
We’ll keep you updated with any further news as it comes out!
Behind Elizabeth Arden’s Campaign With Storyteller in Chief Reese Witherspoon
The goal is to show a younger audience Elizabeth Arden is more than their grandmother’s red lipstick.
By any measure Reese Witherspoon’s image would be enough to power a social campaign, especially after her recent Emmy haul for “Big Little Lies.”
But as the storyteller in chief for Elizabeth Arden, Witherspoon and Iced Media, the digital agency behind a new campaign, ventured in a different direction.
“It would have been easy to focus on this A-list celebrity and that’s what you see a lot of brands do when they have a face that is globally recognized,” explained Leslie Hall, president of Iced Media.
But Iced took a deeper dive, using parallels between Witherspoon and Arden as entrepreneurs and champions of women’s rights. “We took those kinship moments,” Hall said.
The campaign kicked off last week across Facebook, YouTube and Instagram with the third installment going live this week. The latter chronicles Arden’s efforts providing suffragettes with red lipstick. Witherspoon’s Instagram kicking it off last week already has more than 579,000 views.
Hall explained the videos dovetail with Elizabeth Arden’s direction as a company to harken back to the brand’s founder and telling her story in a more pronounced way. “We are tapping into that zeitgeist of powerful women and showing some of her firsts in the beauty business.” Arden’s role in the growth of the beauty industry was also put on the front burner in “War Paint” on Broadway.
The video spots use animation and graphic overlays juxtaposed to Witherspoon’s present day first-person narration.Continue reading this entry »
Reese Witherspoon to Produce Drama ‘Delivery’ in Development at NBC From Kristin Newman, Rob Wright
Reese Witherspoon is attached as an executive producer on a drama in development at NBC, Variety has learned.
Titled “Delivery,” the series is based on the real experiences of series creators, writers, and executive producers Kristin Newman and Rob Wright. It is described as a family drama set in a high-risk perinatology unit. Newman and Wright, a husband and wife team, collaborated for the first time on the script which they wrote last year during the three months Newman spent living in a hospital labor and delivery ward, first on bed rest, and then in the NICU after their daughter was born ten weeks early.
In addition to Witherspoon, Newman, and Wright, Lauren Levy Neustadter will also executive produce. She is the head of film and television for Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company, which is set up under an overall deal at ABC Studios. ABC Studios will produce in association with Hello Sunshine.
This marks the latest television project for Witherspoon, who most recently starred in and executive produced the HBO drama “Big Little Lies,” which won eight Emmys including Outstanding Limited Series. It is yet unknown whether a second season of the series will be produced. Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston are also teaming up to star in and executive produce a series that will focus on a New York morning show.
Newman is a writer and producer known for her work on “That 70’s Show,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and “Galavant.” She also executive produced ABC’s “The Muppets” and wrote for “The Real O’Neals.” Wright wrote for and co-executive produced Fox’s “Lethal Weapon” series, and previously worked on shows like “Ash vs Evil Dead,” “Grimm,” “Charmed,” and “Walker, Texas Ranger.” He also created the Fox series “The Mob Doctor.”
Newman is repped by UTA and Hansen Jacobson. Wright is repped by ICM and Bloom Hergott. Witherspoon is repped by CAA, LBI Entertainment and Hansen Jacobson.
Reese Witherspoon, Ted Sarandos Co-Hosting Fundraiser for Gavin Newsom
Several of Hollywood’s politically minded elites will pay up to $29,200 apiece to gather Friday at the Pacific Palisades home of Reese Witherspoon and husband Jim Toth to raise funds for Gavin Newsom’s campaign in his run for governor of California.
Beyond Witherspoon and Toth, the evening’s event is being co-hosted by Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos and his wife, Nicole Avant, the former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas.
Other co-hosts include TV producer Steven Bochco and his wife, Dayna; Phoenix Pictures CEO Mike Medavoy and his wife, Irena; TV producer Ryan Murphy and his husband, David Miller; and ICM founding partner Chris Silbermann and his TV producer wife, Julia Franz.
The minimum “suggested contribution” to attend the gathering, according to the invitation, is $1,000, though $5,000 gets you a “co-host photo reception.” A “VIP clutch” goes for $10,000, and $29,200 is the “primary maximum” by law.
Newsom, a Democrat, is California’s lieutenant governor and was mayor of San Francisco from 2004-2010. He was an early advocate for the legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage and is a vociferous critic of President Donald Trump.
The politician hosted The Gavin Newsom Show on Al Gore’s now-defunct Current TV and is married to Jennifer Siebel Newsom, an actress who produced the feminist-themed documentary movies Miss Representation and The Mask You Live In.Continue reading this entry »