Not satisfied with selling the world’s most well-known phone, Apple has decided to venture into the world of Netflix, HBO, and Amazon: original content. Since 2016, Apple has been hiring long-time veterans of the entertainment industry in a bid to attract talent, and will reportedly spend a billion dollars annually. That’s meagre compared to Netflix ($8 billion in 2018), or Amazon ($4.5 billion in 2017), but it’s still enough to greenlight a lot of TV shows.
While Apple keeps signing new deals, we still don’t know much about its streaming platform. While the first two reality shows were released on its subscription-based music streaming service Apple Music, it seems unlikely that will be the case for bigger scripted productions. What we do know is that Apple is stressing on family-friendly programming, so don’t expect a Game of Thrones successor.
This list will be continually updated as further announcements of Apple’s original programming efforts are revealed, reported, or confirmed. Here’s what we’ve come across so far:
Revealed: February 2016
Creators: Dr. Dre
What it’s about: A dark semi-autobiographical drama set and starring Dr. Dre, featuring «at least one orgy scene» according to The Hollywood Reporter, was the first Apple series we heard about. The half-hour six-episode show, which also reportedly stars Sam Rockwell and Ian McShane, has long finished filming, but it never saw the light of day. And given Apple’s alleged shift to a family-friendly approach since then, its release seems less likely every day.
Planet of the Apps
Revealed: March 2016
Released: June 2017
Creators: Will.i.am, Ben Silverman
What it’s about: It’s like Shark Tank for app developers. A bunch of pre-selected developers pitch their app ideas to a panel of judges – Jessica Alba, Will.i.am, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gary Vaynerchuk – and if they like the idea, one of the judges takes the developers under their wing until they pitch it to a VC firm to secure funding.
Critics had a highly negative opinion of Apple’s first foray into original content, and Planet of the Apps has not been greenlit for a second season yet.
Carpool Karaoke: The Series
Revealed: July 2016
Released: August 2017
Creators: James Corden, Ben Winston
What it’s about: Corden’s viral hit skit from his own late night talk-show, in which celebrities ride and sing in a moving car, got an expanded version on Apple Music. In addition to the usual car karaoke, the series also had staged bits shot outside the car, featuring celebrities such as Will Smith, Ariana Grande, Metallica, and Maisie Williams.
The quality of every episode varies as the celebrities keep changing, but most critics and viewers gave the thumbs down to the segments outside the car, which felt staged and turned people off. It was good enough overall that Apple renewed Carpool Karaoke for season 2.
Revealed: October 2017
Creators: none at present
What it’s about: Steven Spielberg’s multiple Emmy-winning 80s series became the first Apple project to be greenlit after its hiring of veteran Sony executives Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg in June 2017. Though Bryan Fuller – co-creator of Hannibal – was initially on board to write, he stepped down after Apple reportedly pushed for a family-friendly approach.
For what it’s worth, Fuller has a habit of leaving shows. Amazing Stories was his third, after American Gods and Star Trek: Discovery. Amazing Stories is now on the lookout for a new chief writer; Spielberg hasn’t expressed an interest to be involved directly.
Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston morning show drama
Revealed: November 2017
Creators: Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston
What it’s about: Witherspoon and Aniston will head, produce, and star in this drama set around a morning news TV show, described as «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». Apple is so confident that it’s given the show a 20-episode two-season order, which rarely happens.
Ronald D. Moore space drama
Revealed: December 2017
Creators: Ronald D. Moore
What it’s about: Battlestar Galactica creator Moore is headed back to space for Apple’s first foray into sci-fi, which «explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended». Moore wrote the show, along with Fargo co-executive producers Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi.
Are You Sleeping
Revealed: January 3, 2018
Creators: Reese Witherspoon, Nichelle Tramble Spellman
What it’s about: Based on the true-crime novel by Kathleen Barber, Are You Sleeping is a thriller drama starring Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water). Witherspoon will produce via her Hello Sunshine label, while Spellman (The Good Wife) is the creator, and will write the series. Unlike other shows on Apple’s slate, which have straight-to-series orders, Are You Sleeping is being developed for straight-to-series consideration.
Revealed: January 5, 2018
Creators: Matt Tyrnauer, Corey Reeser, Matthew Weaver, Ian Orefice, Bruce Gersh, and Joe Poulin
What it’s about: The first docuseries in Apple’s programming slate, Home «will offer viewers a never-before-seen look inside the world’s most extraordinary homes, and delves into the minds of the people who built them», per Variety. A bit like MTV Cribs then, except it doesn’t explicitly mention celebrities.
Tyrnauer and Reeser are from Altimeter Films, Weaver, Orefice, and Gersh from Time Inc. Productions, and Poulin is the CEO of Luxury Retreats. All of them will executive produce, while Tyrnauer also directs Home.
Revealed: January 10, 2018
Creators: Steven Knight, Francis Lawrence
What it’s about: Knight – creator of Peaky Blinders, and co-creator of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – and Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2) are behind this «epic, world-building drama set in the future», according to Deadline.
The first season will reportedly have eight episodes, though an order hasn’t been finalised.
Kristen Wiig comedy series
Revealed: January 17, 2018
Creators: Kristen Wiig, Colleen McGuinness
What it’s about: Apple’s first scripted comedy series comes from Saturday Night Live alum Wiig, who will both produce and star in the show. It’ll have 10 episodes, and be inspired by a short story collection by Curtis Sittenfeld called You Think It, I’ll Say It. Reese Witherspoon will executive produce via Hello Sunshine, while McGuinness (30 Rock) created the show and will serve as showrunner.
Apple won’t directly own the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which means it could later appear on other networks.
Damien Chazelle drama
Revealed: January 25, 2018
Creators: Damien Chazelle
What it’s about: Nobody knows, as plot details are being kept under wraps. What we do know is that Chazelle will write and direct the series in entirety. He will also serve as executive producer, alongside fellow La La Land alums Jordan Horowitz and Fred Berger.
Revealed: February 8, 2018
Creators: Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon, Alan Yang, and Lee Eisenberg
What it’s about: Based on true stories featured in Epic Magazine, which are described as “a small, collective portrait of America’s immigrants — and thereby a portrait of America itself». It will «go beyond the headlines to look at the funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring and unexpected lives of immigrants in America, at a time when their stories are more relevant than ever».
Nanjiani, Gordon, and Yang will help write the show, while Eisenberg will serve as showrunner. Like Are You Sleeping, Little America is being developed for straight-to-series consideration.
Revealed: February 13, 2018
Creators: Reggie Rock Bythewood, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, and Kevin Durant
What it’s about: The life and career of NBA star Kevin Durant, currently with the Golden State Warriors, is the basis for this basketball drama. Durant’s youth experiences will be the inspiration for Swagger, which will «explore the world of Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball and the lives of the players, their families, and coaches», Variety says.
Bythewood will write Swagger, while Grazer and Howard produce via Imagine Television, and Durant’s Thirty Five Media.
M. Night Shyamalan thriller series
Revealed: February 27, 2018
Creators: M. Night Shyamalan, Tony Basgallop
What it’s about: The Sixth Sense director Shyamalan is behind Apple’s first thriller series, a bit curious given the company’s family-friendly approach. It’ll be a half-hour 10-episode psychological thriller series from writer Basgallop, while Shyamalan will executive produce.
Shyamalan’s Blinding Edge Pictures will help produce the untitled Apple thriller series, with Ashwin Rajan serving as executive producer. Jason Blumenthal, Todd Black and Steve Tisch of Escape Artists will also executive produce, with Taylor Latham co-executive producing.