Apple’s Lineup of Original Series to Stream Next Year

Apple is throwing its hat into the arena of original programming in hopes of capturing a piece of a very lucrative market pioneered by Netflix and more recently capitalized on by Hulu and Amazon. Details have been emerging about production deals for which Apple has budgeted $1 billion. While that might sound like a good chunk of change for production, it is low compared with the $8 billion Netflix spends on its award-winning original programs. Streaming of original programming has grown steadily over the past five years to the point where an estimated that 500 programs will be produced in 2018.

Planet of the Apps was the first show Apple produced but it proved to be a failure despite Gwenyth Paltrow’s involvement. However, Variety, The New York Times, and others are reporting that big-name producers and actors are involved in the production of Apple’s upcoming original series, which are being developed by Apple Worldwide Video. Twelve projects are slated, including productions involving Steven Spielberg, actress Reese Witherspoon, director M. Night Shyamalan, and actress Octavia Spencer. The first original series is expected to be released in March 2019, with series that have more complex special effects slated for release later in 2019.

Following the success of Big Little Lies on HBO, Apple has struck a deal with Reese Witherspoon to produce three series. Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston will star in a 10-episode series about a morning TV show that draws inspiration from the book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV by Brian Stelter.

Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, will also produce a series based on Are You Sleeping: A Novel by best-selling author Kathleen Barber. Starring Octavia Spencer, the series is about a hit podcast that reopens a murder case and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter (played by Spencer).

Kristen Wiig stars in the third Witherspoon production. Ten half-hour comedy episodes were inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld’s yet-to-be-published collection of short stories You Think It, I’ll Say It.

Apple plans to bring Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories back to life. In the mid-80’s, the award-winning series had a huge budget for the time but was considered too dark. With the success of original series like Netflix’s Black Mirror and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams on Amazon, Apple is betting that it’s a good time to revive the series.

A new space drama from Ronald D Moore, director of Battlestar Galactica and Outlander, explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended. Because of the large number of special effects, this show is expected to be released in late 2019.

Damien Chazelle, director of La La Land, has been signed to write and direct a new yet-to-be-named series. Chazelle also made a deal with Netflix to produce an eight-episode series, The Eddy, to be filmed in Paris. Unlike the Apple series, Chazelle is slated to direct only the first two episodes of the new Netflix series.

Coming off the success of their independent film The Big Sick, Kamail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon will tell inspiring, heartfelt stories about the lives of immigrants in America. The series entitled Little America is based on true stories published in Epic magazine.

An animated series from the creator of Bob’s Burgers, called Central Park, is slated for two seasons. It’s about how a family of caretakers who live and work in Central Park end up saving the world. Voice talent includes Kristen Bell, Josh Gadd, Stanley Tucci, and Kathryn Hahn.

If there weren’t enough big name producers in Apple’s original series mix, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are developing a drama about the life and career of NBA superstar Kevin Durant. The show will explore the lives of amateur basketball players, their families and coaches.

It’s not yet clear if Apple’s original series will be available individually through iTunes or added to the Apple TV app, but it is expected that they will be offered through a subscription similar to (if not part of) Apple Music.