‘The Morning Show’: How the #MeToo Movement Led to Big Changes on Apple’s Flagship Drama
Since it was first announced in November 2017, many rumors have popped up about “The Morning Show.” The Jennifer Aniston- and Reese Witherspoon-starring drama would be a family-friendly look at morning talk shows. It would steer away from topical, controversial content. It would only be available to people with Apple devices.
None of this is true, and as we approach its November 1 release date, the curtain over the biggest Apple TV+ series in the inaugural lineup is slowly being drawn back. During a press conference Sunday afternoon [13th October] — fittingly held at a Hollywood hotel that hasn’t even opened yet — Aniston and Witherspoon joined co-star Steve Carell and producers Kerry Ehrin, Michael Ellenberg, and director Mimi Leder to discuss the series’ veiled development.
Speaking to the show’s mature and timely content — which is very much a part of the hourlong drama — the group addressed how the #MeToo movement affected their story.
“The show existed before #MeToo happened,” Aniston said. “The show was always going to be pulling a curtain [back] on the New York media world and the morning talk shows. [But] once #MeToo happened, the conversation drastically changed and we just incorporated it [into the show.]”
When it earned a two-season, direct-to-series order from Apple in late 2017, “The Morning Show” was developed under writer and executive producer Jay Carson. But the #MeToo movement picked up steam shortly thereafter, and Apple soon signed Ehrin to an overall deal and hired her as the series’ new showrunner. Carson reportedly left amicably due to creative differences.
“We all sat and thought about what the tone would be,” Aniston said. “We wanted it to be raw, honest, vulnerable, and messy — and not black-and-white, obviously. As we were all stumbling along trying to figure out what is this narrative and what’s happening, this show was writing itself as we went along — well, the news was helping us.”
To promote the November premiere of The Morning Show, Reese can be seen on the cover of the new issue of Harper’s Bazaar magazine! The magazine features a brand new photoshoot themed around ‘facing your fears’, and Natalie Portman interviews Reese about The Morning Show and some of her other upcoming producing work. In the behind the scenes video, Reese talks about her favourite books, including Wild. Find all the content within this post!
From boldly addressing the nuances of #MeToo on her new Apple TV+ drama, The Morning Show, to canoodling with a five-foot python for BAZAAR, the 43-year-old actress and producer takes risks without even wobbling in her stilettos. Friend Natalie Portman talked to the star about how she makes it all look so easy.
NATALIE PORTMAN: Hi! I’m so happy to talk to you for Harper’s BAZAAR’s Daring issue. Was it scary to be shot with a spider on your face?
REESE WITHERSPOON: The spider didn’t scare me, but there was a snake at the photo shoot that did. This is going to sound weird, but I like insects and spiders. I was kind of a tomboy growing up. It grosses everybody out, but I like to pick up bugs.
NP: What, if anything, are you actually afraid of?
RW: I get scared of being on really tall buildings and looking down.
NP: And you did that too for your Bazaar shoot! I’m impressed. Speaking of impressed, I watched the first three episodes of The Morning Show last night. It’s wonderful!
Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club Is Keeping Hello Sunshine on Top
Reese Witherspoon doesn’t sleep. At least that’s the consensus of her Hello Sunshine team. Since 2016, Witherspoon has been the face and founder of Hello Sunshine, an integrated media and production company focused on women, and she hasn’t taken a break since.
Through prestige dramas and high-profile ensembles (Big Little Lies, The Morning Show), Hello Sunshine has been highlighting “female authorship and agency” within all parts of storytelling around the clock. The foundation of this rapidly growing company is a community nearly a million and a half strong: Reese’s Book Club.
“She doesn’t sleep a lot, judging by the time stamps,” jokes Charlotte Koh, Hello Sunshine’s head of digital media and unscripted. Witherspoon’s Santa Monica office is filled with career memories: hiking boots from Wild, a print of Johnny and June Carter Cash, photos of herself with costars, and neat stacks of books. It makes sense that the woman known for portraying Tracy Flick and Elle Woods uses every last minute of her day.
Witherspoon is across town filming the upcoming Hulu miniseries adaptation of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere (September 2017’s book club pick). Lauren Neustadter, Hello Sunshine’s head of film and TV, witnesses daily the actress’s commitment to reading: “If they’re changing the lighting or they’re moving the camera, you have 20 minutes. [She’ll] be like, ‘Okay, I need to knock out this manuscript. I’ve got this script. I have a book to read.’ ” Neustadter estimates that Witherspoon can take a book down in as little as 48 hours—necessary for keeping up with her community.
The book club was not something that the company started for Witherspoon; she was already doing it on her own.
Reese Witherspoon is proud of her wrinkles as she opens up about loving her 40s
Reese Witherspoon may have been acting in Hollywood since the age of 15, but as she embraces her 40s, the actress revealed that her career has definitely got better with age.
The mother-of-three spoke to Closer about her time working on HBO’s hit drama Big Little Lies and explained how her life experience helped her become a better, more well-rounded actor.
‘One of the things that struck me about Big Little Lies was how I saw my own life reflected in each of the characters,’ the 43-year-old said, ‘because I was a divorced woman, I’d been a single mother, a married mother, and I had another child in a second marriage.’
Having also taken on a producer role in the show, Reese said: ‘When I saw the first version of it in the editing room, I immediately noticed the little lines on my face and said to myself, “I like them, I got them one by one… I worked hard to get these wrinkles.”
‘Now I can play women who have lived more and gone through a lot of changes, not simply because I’m in my 40s but because I’ve gone through that kind of evolution myself.’
However, age hasn’t just brought on physical changes for the actress, but emotional and mental ones that she also sung the praises of, saying: ‘I think the 40s are the best years for women. You have a much clearer idea of who you are and you know exactly what you want.’
Reese and Jennifer Aniston are featured on the cover of the October issue of Entertainment Weekly, to promote their upcoming series The Morning Show! The two are photographed in character for the issue, and the interview reveals the real-life inspiration behind the series and tells us more about the characters. Read the interview below or on Entertainment Weekly, and find the cover and photoshoot in high quality in our Gallery. We’ll have scans for you when the issue is available.
Stream Queens: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon on their TV reunion and how The Morning Show changed after #MeToo
Reese Witherspoon isn’t about to cause a scene. But she is freaking out a little bit. “Diane Sawyer came to visit and oh my God, it was amazing!” Sitting in a Los Angeles restaurant on a balmy August evening, the Academy Award winner throws her hands over her face to muffle her excitement. (There will be no Elle Woods-esque squeal here.) She’s recalling the day that the legendary broadcast journalist stopped by the set of her upcoming series with Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show (Nov. 1). Her face still in her hands, Witherspoon continues in disbelief: “She sat at the monitor and watched me and Jen read the news!” The pair have come a long way since trading barbs at Central Perk.
The Morning Show — which marks Aniston’s major return to TV after Friends ended in 2004, and the pair’s first project together since Witherspoon guest-starred on the NBC comedy as Rachel’s spoiled little sister Jill in 2000 — takes viewers inside the world of daybreak news. “There’s something sort of bulletproof about morning shows,” Witherspoon says. “They’re a stalwart part of American culture.” After all, every day millions of Americans wake up and turn on the Today show, or any number of other programs, and are greeted by familiar faces they trust to deliver the news with just the right amount of personality. At least that’s the expectation. As you brew your morning coffee, they update you on the latest from the White House. As you pick out your clothes for the day, they let you know how the weather is looking. And as you prepare to head out the door, they amuse you with fun anecdotes about the internet’s buzziest viral video. “These shows are some of the last programming in the country that still tries to appeal in Los Angeles and New York and Des Moines and Mississippi,” says Morning Show executive producer Michael Ellenberg. “You have to introduce an idea of what America is that works for blue states and red states.” It was Ellenberg who brought the idea for The Morning Show to Witherspoon, whom he worked with on Big Little Lies, and Aniston in late 2016. (“I said to him, ‘I’m not completely closed down to television because it’s been pretty good,’” Aniston recalls.)
He can trace the idea back to 1989, when he saw Jane Pauley get replaced on Today. (It’s widely believed to be because she was “too old.” She was 39 at the time.) Then in 2012, Today’s veteran newsreader Ann Curry was reportedly driven off the program after less than a year as a cohost, a subject explored in journalist Brian Stelter’s 2013 book Top of the Morning, which Ellenberg quickly optioned. (Stelter is a consulting producer on the show, which uses his book mostly for background research.) “These are some of the most powerful women in America, and we watched them get screwed publicly, basically,” Ellenberg says. Witherspoon adds: “I was astounded by how honest a lot of female anchors were with myself and Jen. I think most people would find it shocking that women in that position, of what we perceive as power, are looked at as expendable.”
Reese and Draper James’s Head of Design Kathryn Sukey appear on the cover of the Fall/Winter edition of Editorialist magazine this month. Editorialist is an online magazine focused on luxury accessories and jewellery. In the magazine, Reese and Kathryn pose for a new photoshoot, and talk about the inspiration for Draper James and upcoming plans for the brand.
To celebrate their 25th anniversary, In Style have gathered several of their most famous cover stars from the past 25 years to each take a trip down memory lane and look back at their previous In Style covers. As well as talking us through their covers, the stars have been photographed for the current issue in a way that reflects their current selves. Reese tells us about her covers from 2002, 2004, 2009, 2015, 2016 & 2019, and for the latest photoshoot was snapped in May in New York City.
You can browse through all of the featurettes at InStyle.com. Read Reese’s article at InStyle.com or below, and find the photo in our Gallery. We’ll have scans for you asap.
Reese Witherspoon Doesn’t Want You to Worry
“In my early 20s I used to worry a lot. I was worried about being a good mom. I was worried about being a good actress. I worried about whether or not people respected me, or if I was kind enough. But in the end it all works out. Really!”
I was on my first InStyle cover in 2002, when I was 26. I had always been a fan of the magazine, so it was a big deal. Looking at that cover now, I can’t help but feel tender toward baby Reese and anyone else who’s going through that phase of life when they’re discovering who they are, especially in the public eye. I know what she’s about to go through and endure and triumph over, but she has no idea what’s to come, despite the fact that she does look all coy and knowing. I’m an actor: I might look like I know things sometimes, but I don’t.
Since then I’ve been on the cover of InStyle five more times. I guess you could say I’ve been swimming in the soup. It’s been a huge privilege and an honor. Sometimes I do cringe when I look back [at images of myself], but it’s only because I can’t believe I cut my hair or plucked my eyebrows a certain way. More than that, I usually just think about what a lovely way it is to remember milestones in my life, like finishing a project I was really proud of or having kids. It’s crazy how time flies, but I’ve learned so much about myself over the years. There’s a pretty good quote in my 2002 cover story where I said, “Listening to other people’s ideas about who you are can eat you up. Do they like me? Do they hate me? You could think about it all day long.” That’s something people say in their 20s. Once you’re in your 40s you don’t care what people think.
I came up in a time when Hollywood was about one body type, one beauty standard [blond hair and blue eyes]. Still, I was confident that the substance of what I had to say was more important than any external validation. I was always just being myself: a young mom, a comedian, a goofball. I’ve always been a goofball. I feel more comfortable making funny faces than serious faces, and even at 26, I wasn’t appearing on the covers of men’s magazines. That kind of hypersexualization made me feel awkward, and if I felt that way, I didn’t want to make other women feel that way.
Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon on all things Big Little Lies season 2, possible season 3
The second season finale of Big Little Lies — and that epic court battle between Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and her mother-in-law Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) — had fans sitting on the edge of their seats.
Now, Kidman and fellow BLL star/executive producer Reese Witherspoon talk with EW exclusively about that ending, the reports that have surfaced that season 2 director Andrea Arnold supposedly lost creative control to season 1 director Jean-Marc Vallée, and whether fans will be able to enjoy another season of the women from Monterey, Calif.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like to get everyone back for another season? REESE WITHERSPOON: The collaboration was otherworldly, particularly having Meryl joining the cast. And then having audiences respond the way they do and love these characters and take them into their homes and hearts. That’s a big deal. That’s lightning in a bottle. I think Nicole and I frequently text each other and say, “Can you believe this is happening?”
NICOLE KIDMAN: Meryl in that cardigan, with those teeth and delivering that dialogue, I mean, that is such a unique character. I’ve never seen that on screen. That makes me happy. I’ve not seen that kind of strangely unique, woman-in-a-cardigan, wielding those verbal swords. It was sort of delicious. We’ve always said this show needs to be delicious. And hopefully it will still culturally penetrate. Obviously, so much of what we are grappling with is, “I believe you, I don’t believe you.” And to have a woman on the stand saying “I don’t believe you” with such vehemence to another woman, a momma to a momma, all of those things — for that to get lost is sad. We are trying to interweave all of these story lines, six women and their story lines, and having seven hours is still not really enough. We started to put our toe in the water with euthanasia; we started to deal with the cultural ideas of… once again there is a society that says “I don’t believe you; I believe you brought it upon yourself.” Those things are still very much in existence: “you caused someone to rape you,” “maybe you didn’t realize what you were doing,” “maybe actually it’s your fault that he wanted to hit you.” All of those things are very prevalent in this culture right now. To have them discussed and still in an entertaining way, and then to be dealing with the weight of a secret, how do you heal when you are still holding on to secrets? All of that is very complicated. Trying to deal with these complicated issues and have them still resonate with people in an entertaining way was something we were open for. Did we succeed or fail? Reese and I always say, “Hey, we are always going keep trying.”
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