Apple Outbids Netflix for Aniston-Witherspoon Scripted Series About Morning TV

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Reese Witherspoon speaks at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills in May.
Reese Witherspoon speaks at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills in May. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Apple ordered a TV series starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, two of the most successful actresses of their generation, in the clearest sign yet of the tech giant's intent to make a big splash in Hollywood.

The Cupertino, California-based maker of iPhones and iPads outbid many of the TV industry's biggest players, including Netflix, and committed to producing two seasons. The as-yet unnamed show, the first recurring TV role for Aniston since "Friends," is set in the world of morning TV, Apple said Wednesday.

The company has now signed up Steven Spielberg and two award-winning actresses for its foray into TV programming. Apple has also committed to making "Amazing Stories," an anthology series produced by Spielberg and "Hannibal" creator Bryan Fuller.

With almost $270 billion in cash and securities in its coffers, Apple has the money to make as much TV as anyone. Yet partners who've met with the company have had trouble discerning a clear strategy, and some of its early efforts have been slowed by indecision and concern over how some subjects may reflect on the company's image.

Apple hasn't said where people will be able to watch its shows, though the company hopes to release its first slate in 2019, Bloomberg reported in October. Former Sony Corp. executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht are overseeing the programming.

The company has signed high-profile talent to establish itself as a formidable player in Hollywood, which is in the midst of an historic production boom as online viewing takes off. The number of scripted programs being made has mushroomed thanks to an influx of money from Netflix and competitors including Amazon and Alphabet's YouTube.

The morning show project is being run by Jay Carson, producer of "House of Cards," the political drama that put Netflix on the map as a home for premium original series. Witherspoon and Aniston are also producing the project with former HBO executive Michael Ellenberg. The show is based on the book "Top of the Morning" by CNN reporter Brian Stelter.

-- Bloomberg News

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