Apple's original TV shows: Everything you need to know!

Apple has spent the last couple of years filling out an executive team and buying up shows in an effort to build a slate of original content that it can offer customers. The people include executives from entertainment giants like Sony and Amazon. The shows include a drama that goes behind the scenes of morning shows and a sci-fi series from the creator of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica.

That's actually all we know for sure. Apple has said very little about its recent original content efforts outside the launches of Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke. The company has said nothing about how these new shows will be distributed, when they'll premiere, or how much it will cost to watch them.

In an effort to keep you up to date on Apple's continuing original content efforts, here's everything you need to know about them.

See more on all things streaming TV at CordCutters.com!

What's new with Apple TV shows and original content?

July 12, 2018: Carpool Karaoke gets Emmy nomination

It looks like Apple's content team is on the right track for producing content that people want to see. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Television Academy has announced its nominees for best shortform variety series and the Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke spinoff is on the list.

Alongside Carpool Karaoke in the best shortform variety series category are Between the Scenes - The Daily Show, Creating Saturday Night Live, Gay of Thrones, Honest Trailers, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Cover Room.

The Creative Arts Emmy awards ceremony will take place on Sept. 8 and 9, but we won't be able to watch it live. Instead, it will air on FXX on Sept. 15.

Who do you want to win?

June 15, 2018: Apple signs multi-year content deal with Oprah Winfrey

Apple has announced that it has signed a multi-year deal with Oprah Winfrey to produce original content for the company. While no details about the programming have been offered, Apple says that the shows will "embrace [Oprah's] incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world." From Apple:

Apple today announced a unique, multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey, the esteemed producer, actress, talk show host, philanthropist and CEO of OWN.

Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.

Winfrey's projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple.

June 7, 2018: Apple is going to develop novel "Shantaram" as a drama series

According to Variety, Apple has received the necessary permissions to develop the novel "Shantaram," written by Gregory David Roberts, as a series. The company will reportedly work with Eric Warren Singer as screenwriter, an individual whose other credits include "American Hustle," "The International," and "Only the Brave."

"Shantaram" is loosely based on Roberts' own life, and follows the story of a man named Lindsay — a heroin addict and bank robber — as he escapes from Pentridge Prison in Victoria, Australia to India. It describes how he finds shelter and new companions in India's "underworld," learning the native language and making a new home for himself with the help of others.

There had apparently been previous plans to develop the novel as a film, but those didn't pan out as intended. The drama series will produced by Anonymous Content and Paramount Television, and will be executive produced, in part, by David Manson, who has also been executive producer on popular shows like "Big Love" and "House of Cards."

For more information about "Shantaram," check out Variety's piece here.

May 30, 2018: Apple orders Emily Dickinson comedy starring Hailee Steinfeld

Apple has given a series order to a new comedy, Dickinson, starring Hailee Steinfeld. The comedy, written by Alena Smith, will focus on a young Emily Dickinson as she tests the boundaries of her society with her unique point of view. From Deadline:

Written by Smith, Dickinson is set during Emily Dickinson's era with a modern sensibility and tone. It takes viewers into the world of Emily (Steinfeld), audaciously exploring the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of a budding writer who doesn't fit in to her own time through her imaginative point of view. Dickinson is Emily's coming-of-age story – one woman's fight to get her voice heard.

April 10, 2018: Sci-fi series based on Isaac Asimov's 'Foundation' triliogy lands at Apple

Apple will produce a TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy from David Goyer and Josh Friedman. From Deadline:

In a competitive situation, Apple has nabbed a TV series adaptation of Foundation, the seminal Isaac Asimov science fiction novel trilogy. The project, from Skydance Television, has been put in development for straight-to-series consideration. Deadline revealed last June that Skydance had made a deal with the Asimov estate and that David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman were cracking the code on a sprawling series based on the books that informed Star Wars and many other sci-fi films and TV series. Goyer & Friedman will be executive producers and showrunners. Skydance's David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross also will executive produce.

March 12, 2018: Apple orders Central Park from Bob's Burgers creator

Apple has ordered a new animated comedy, according to Variety. Called Central Park, the show comes from Loren Bouchard, the creator of Fox's Bob's Burgers.

The digital giant has given a two-season series order to "Central Park," a musical comedy from "Bob's Burgers" creator Loren Bouchard and 20th Century Fox Television. Written by Bouchard, Josh Gad, and Nora Smith, the series is described as telling the story of how a family of caretakers, who live and work in Central Park, end up saving the park, and basically the world.

Produced by 20th Century Fox Television — where Bouchard is under an overall deal — "Central Park" stars Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Titus Burgess, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Daveed Diggs, and Kathryn Hahn. Bouchard and Gad will executive produce, with Smith serving as a consulting producer. The order is for 26 episodes, split into two 13-episode seasons.

February 27, 2018: Apple gives straight-to-series order to thriller from M. Night Shyamalan

Variety reports that Apple has given a straight-to-series order to a new psychological thriller from The Sixth Sense writer/director M. Night Shyamalan:

The streaming service has given a straight-to-series order to a psychological thriller series from writer Tony Basgallop that Shyamalan will executive produce. Plot details for the series are being kept under wraps. The half-hour series has received a 10-episode order, with Shyamalan also set to direct the first episode.

February 13, 2018: Apple to produce drama series based on Kevin Durant's early life

Apple will be producing a new drama series, Swagger, based on the youth of Golden State Warriors player Kevin Durant. From Variety:

Titled "Swagger," the series is inspired by Durant's youth basketball experiences. It will explore the world of Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball and the lives of the players, their families, and coaches.

The series will be produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's Imagine Television along with Durant's Thirty Five Media. Durant and Grazer will executive produce, along with Imagine's Francie Calfo and Thirty Five Media's Rich Kleiman.

Reggie Rock Bythewood will write and direct. Bythewood previously collaborated with Imagine on the Fox limited series "Shots Fired," which he created. His past credits include co-writing the screenplay for the Notorious BIG biopic "Notorious."

January 25, 2018: Apple signs straight-to-series deal for new drama from 'La La Land' creator

Damien Chazelle, the writer and director of the musical La La Land, has signed a straight-to-series deal with Apple for a new drama. Plot details for the series are currently being kept under wraps.

From Variety:

Details of the series' plot are being kept under wraps, but Chazelle will write and direct every episode of the series, as well as serving as executive producer. In addition to Chazelle, the series will be executive produced by Jordan Horowitz via his Original Headquarters banner, and Fred Berger for Automatik Entertainment. Media Rights Capital is the studio.

January 17, 2018: Kristen Wiig starring in 10-episode comedy series for Apple

Kristen Wiig will star in a new half-hour comedy series for Apple. The Reese Witherspoon-produced show is getting a 10-episode initial order, and is based on an upcoming collection of short stories by Chris Sittenfeld called "You Think It, I'll Say It."

From Variety:

The 10-episode, half-hour comedy is inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld's upcoming short story collection "You Think It, I'll Say It." It marks Wiig's first regular television role since she left "Saturday Night Live" in 2012. She will also serve as an executive producer on the show.

Colleen McGuinness created the series and will serve as showrunner and executive producer. Witherspoon will executive produce via her Hello Sunshine banner along with Lauren Neustadter and Wiig. Sittenfeld will serve as a consulting producer. This also marks Apple's first half-hour scripted comedy order.

Elsewhere, The Hollywood Reporter notes that the entry of Apple into the original content business has already had an impact on other studios and productions. Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, stars of HBO's Big Little Lies, have already leveraged Apple's content efforts into bigger paydays for the second season of the hit HBO drama.

The tech giant, estimated to enter the scripted genre with a budget of $1 billion in its first year, recently paid what sources say is upward of $1.25 million per episode to stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon for its 20-episode untitled morning-show drama. The eye-popping salaries also include fees for executive producing and points on the show's backend. And that payday directly impacted the recently announced second season of HBO's smash hit Big Little Lies, sources say.

Where Witherspoon and Kidman each received between $250,000 and $300,000 per episode for the first season of Big Little Lies, the pair, along with co-stars Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley, are getting substantial pay bumps for season two.

Sources say the duo is getting in the $1 million-an-episode ballpark for season two, as well as points off the show's backend and EP fees. Co-stars like Zoe Kravitz also are said to have scored significant bumps, with the actress' total season-one salary of $380,000 jumping to $3 million for the sophomore run. Shailene Woodley, who earned $1.7 million for season one, is also said to be getting a sizable pay raise. Season two of the show is being planned to shoot in the spring but won't air until 2019.

January 16, 2018: Apple bidding on J.J. Abrams sci-fi series

J.J. Abrams, the creative force behind Felicity, Alias, Lost, and Fringe — as well as the recent Star Trek reboot and Star Wars sequels — is heading back to television. And it might just be with Apple.

According to Variety:

J.J. Abrams has written a new sci-fi drama television series that is currently the subject of a bidding war between Apple and HBO, Variety has confirmed with sources.

Details of the project are being kept under tight wraps, but it would reportedly deal with a world's battle against a monstrous, oppressive force. Should the project move forward, it would be Abrams' first TV writing gig since "Fringe" in 2008.

Abrams would also executive produce, with Ben Stephenson–head of television for Abrams' Bad Robot Productions–also serving as an executive producer. Warner Bros. Television would produce. While HBO and Apple are the top contenders for the project, Warner Bros. is said to be open to other bidders.

Some of those series didn't exactly go out with a bang but all of them started with one. And that's the kind of attention and quality that'll help make Apple into must-see TV.

List of Announced Apple TV Shows

Untitled morning show drama with Jennifer Anniston and Resse Witherspoon

Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon will star in an as-yet untitled drama set behind the scenes of the highly competitive morning show industry. Apple has given this show a two-season order.

From Variety:

The untitled Aniston-Witherspoon drama hails from Michael Ellenberg's Media Res studio, Aniston's Echo Films and Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine banner. The starry project was highly sought after by a number of outlets and landed a two-season order (10 episodes per season) from Apple. Media Res, Aniston and Witherspoon are the principle owners of the show.

The series is based on an idea from Ellenberg and will draw background material from CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter's 2013 book "Top of the Morning," which recounted the recent rivalry between NBC's "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning America." Jay Carson ("House of Cards") is writing the pilot and will serve as showrunner. Stelter is serving as a consultant.

Given how many of Apple's current projects seem sci-fi based, picking up this show should really help round out the programming.

Untitled new sci-fi drama from Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica)

Coming from Battlestar Galactica's Ronald D. Moore, almost nothing is known about this series so far. Apple has given this show a straight-to-series order as well.

From Deadline:

Ronald D. Moore is heading back to space. Apple has given a straight-to-series order to a space drama from the Battlestar Galactica developer. The untitled project hails from Sony Pictures Television and Moore's studio-based Tall Ship Productions.

Created and written by Moore, along with Fargo co-executive producers Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi, the untitled series explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended. Tall Ship Prods.' Moore and Maril Davis executive produce with Wolpert and Nedivi.

A terrific concept from a terrific team. This could be the type of show that gets people to sign up and stay signed up.

Amazing Stories reboot

Exciting, right? In a deal with Stephen Spielberg's Amblin Television, Apple will produce at least 10 episodes of this sci-fi/fantasy anthology series. This is a reboot of a series produced by Spielberg in the mid-1980s.

From Variety:

"Amazing Stories" hails from Universal Television and Amblin Television. Spielberg, Fuller, Amblin's Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey and "Bones" creator Hart Hanson are exec producers. Spielberg spearheaded an earlier edition of "Amazing Stories" that ran from 1985 to 1987 on NBC.

The Apple iteration aims to enlist notable filmmakers and creative talent for each episode.

Amazing Stories occupies an almost Indiana Jones-style place in the hearts of many who came of age during the original series. Nostalgia, especially when it's linked to so influential a creator, can be a powerful attractor.

See (from the creators o Peaky Blinders)

It is. Another straight-to-series order, this world-building drama set in the future will be written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and directed by Francis Lawrence.

From Deadline:

In a competitive situation, Apple has landed the hot TV package See with a straight-to-series order. An epic, world-building drama set in the future, the project is written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and directed by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2). It comes from the recently launched scripted drama venture between Peter Chernin's Chernin Entertainment and Endeavor Content.

Peaky Blinders is grim but captivating. Another distopian future show among several, it's the quality of the writing and acting that'll have to stand out.

Are You Sleeping, starring Octavia Spencer

Based on the novel of the same name, this series starring Octavia Spencer follows a how the reopening of a murder case impacts the victim's daughter and starts to reshape how the world sees the victim.

From Variety:

Created and written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman, the series will be produced by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine and Chernin Ent/Endeavor Content.

The series is based on Kathleen Barber's novel of the same name, which gives a glimpse into the obsession with true crime podcasts and "challenges its viewers to consider the consequences when the pursuit of justice is placed on a public stage." Sarah Koenig, the creator and producer behind true crime podcast "Serial," will consult on the series.)

Crime stories, especially when given the room to really breathe, are proven commodities.

Home (documentary/reality)

The first documentary series from Apple, Home will consist of a 10-episode first season exploring extraordinary homes around the world and talk to the people who built them.

From Variety:

The series 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. Apple has ordered 10, one-hour episodes of the new series.

"Home" hails from executive producers Matt Tyrnauer and Corey Reeser of Altimeter Films, Matthew Weaver, Ian Orefice and Bruce Gersh from Time Inc. Productions, and Joe Poulin, CEO of Luxury Retreats. Tyrnauer also directs the docuseries. Altimeter Films, Time Inc. Productions, and Media Weaver Entertainment produce.

Even if it's only Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous reimagined for the 2020s, the combination of wealth and reality TV should draw an audience.

Untitled half-hour comedy, starring Kristen Wiig

The first comedy series greenlit by Apple will be produced by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine production company and star Kristen Wiig.

From Variety:

The 10-episode, half-hour comedy is inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld's upcoming short story collection "You Think It, I'll Say It." It marks Wiig's first regular television role since she left "Saturday Night Live" in 2012. She will also serve as an executive producer on the show.

Colleen McGuinness created the series and will serve as showrunner and executive producer. Witherspoon will executive produce via her Hello Sunshine banner along with Lauren Neustadter and Wiig. Sittenfeld will serve as a consulting producer. This also marks Apple's first half-hour scripted comedy order.

People love to laugh, and it's good to see a comedy on Apple's production slate.

Untitled drama from La La Land's Damien Chazelle

Apple has given another straight-to-series order, this time for a drama from La La Land writer/director Damien Chazelle. Little is known about the plot of the series at this time.

From Variety:

Details of the series' plot are being kept under wraps, but Chazelle will write and direct every episode of the series, as well as serving as executive producer. In addition to Chazelle, the series will be executive produced by Jordan Horowitz via his Original Headquarters banner, and Fred Berger for Automatik Entertainment. Media Rights Capital is the studio.

Swagger (drama)

This scripted drama series is inspired by the early life of Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors. From Variety:

Titled "Swagger," the series is inspired by Durant's youth basketball experiences. It will explore the world of Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball and the lives of the players, their families, and coaches.

The series will be produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's Imagine Television along with Durant's Thirty Five Media. Durant and Grazer will executive produce, along with Imagine's Francie Calfo and Thirty Five Media's Rich Kleiman.

Reggie Rock Bythewood will write and direct. Bythewood previously collaborated with Imagine on the Fox limited series "Shots Fired," which he created. His past credits include co-writing the screenplay for the Notorious BIG biopic "Notorious."

Untitled thriller from M. Night Shyamalan

This psychological thriller will be Shyamalan's second TV series, though beyond the genre and the fact that Shyamalan will direct the first episode, little is known about the show at the moment. From Variety:

The streaming service has given a straight-to-series order to a psychological thriller series from writer Tony Basgallop that Shyamalan will executive produce. Plot details for the series are being kept under wraps. The half-hour series has received a 10-episode order, with Shyamalan also set to direct the first episode.

Central Park (animated comedy)

Apple has ordered two seasons of this animated comedy from Bob's Burgers creator Loren Bouchard. From Variety:

The digital giant has given a two-season series order to "Central Park," a musical comedy from "Bob's Burgers" creator Loren Bouchard and 20th Century Fox Television. Written by Bouchard, Josh Gad, and Nora Smith, the series is described as telling the story of how a family of caretakers, who live and work in Central Park, end up saving the park, and basically the world.

Produced by 20th Century Fox Television — where Bouchard is under an overall deal — "Central Park" stars Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Titus Burgess, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Daveed Diggs, and Kathryn Hahn. Bouchard and Gad will executive produce, with Smith serving as a consulting producer. The order is for 26 episodes, split into two 13-episode seasons.

Foundation (sci-fi series)

Apple has recently landed the TV adaptation of the Foundation trilogy by science fiction pioneer Isaac Asimov. The adaptation will be produced by David Goyer and Josh Friedman. According to Deadline, the adaptation is now in development for straight-to-series consideration:

In a competitive situation, Apple has nabbed a TV series adaptation of Foundation, the seminal Isaac Asimov science fiction novel trilogy. The project, from Skydance Television, has been put in development for straight-to-series consideration. Deadline revealed last June that Skydance had made a deal with the Asimov estate and that David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman were cracking the code on a sprawling series based on the books that informed Star Wars and many other sci-fi films and TV series. Goyer & Friedman will be executive producers and showrunners. Skydance's David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross also will executive produce.

Dickinson (historical comedy)

This series offers a comedic take on the life of Emily Dickinson, written by Alena Smith and starring Hailee Steinfeld in the the title role. From Deadline:

Written by Smith, Dickinson is set during Emily Dickinson's era with a modern sensibility and tone. It takes viewers into the world of Emily (Steinfeld), audaciously exploring the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of a budding writer who doesn't fit in to her own time through her imaginative point of view. Dickinson is Emily's coming-of-age story – one woman's fight to get her voice heard.

Apple's producing it's own TV shows?

Indeed they are. Of course, you may have already watched a couple of them. Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke both debuted in 2017, though there's been no word at this time on continuation on either of those series.

As for future content, Apple has been hiring executives and ordering shows over the last year to offer a solid, if seemingly-modest, slate of content to customers.

Does Apple have a team for producing new shows, or is it just kind of winging it?

Apple has hired a number of executives from the world of television to help jumpstart its own efforts. One of its biggest moves came in mid-2017 when it hiredJamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, both formerly of Sony. The duo has helped shepherd projects like Breaking Bad, Justified, and The Crown.

At the end of 2017, Apple hired three high-profile entertainment executives away from Amazon Studios. Tara Sorensen, the head of Amazon's children's programming, has made the move to Cupertino, along with international development exec Carina Walker and business affairs head Tara Pietri.

What kinds of TV projects are being developed? Are they all kid-friendly?

While we don't know the exact nature of every project that Apple's ordered, we can infer some things about what their content offers will look like.

There were some rumors towards the end of last year that Apple would focus on more family-friendly programming, and the hiring of Sorensen from Amazon certainly suggests that they want to develop those kind of shows. But looking at some of the other shows that the company has ordered, it seems a likely that there will also be shows geared more towards adults.

For instance, Apple has ordered two seasons of a new drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston set in the highly competitive and cutthroat world morning TV news and lifestyle programs. That doesn't exactly seem like children's fare. There's also the upcoming sci-fi drama series from Ronald D. Moore, currently the show runner of Starz's Outlander. Before Outlander, Moore developed and ran the remake of Battlestar Galactica. Both shows certainly contain their share of adult content.

So if you're worried that Apple's just going to market their service towards one type of customers, it's okay to calm down.

Is Apple going to start a Netflix competitor?

At this stage, we know so little about Apple's distribution plans that everything is pure speculation. While it would seem likely that Apple would offer a new service, the company has so far distributed its original shows, Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke, using Apple Music. Subscribers to that service are able to watch every episode of both shows at no additional cost.

But could they create a standalone video service, like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video? Apple has the infrastructure but, at least right now, the company is a little light on content, though that's bound to change. It also has a vast library of video content with the shows and movies on iTunes, but the company would have to cut deals to offer unlimited streaming on that content, rather than selling it all à la carte.

The most likely option, at least in the short term, is for Apple to keep doing what it's doing and associate its streaming video efforts with Apple Music. The company could bundle it in with the service, or even treat it as a paid add-on.

Where will we be able to watch these shows?

Again, this is an area that's a little fuzzy. That being said, if these shows to appear in the TV app on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad, I would personally be shocked. It comes pre-installed on all of those devices, and now that it has notifications, Apple can alert you whenever one of its original shows premieres or adds a new episode.

Any questions about Apple's upcoming original TV content?

If you have any questions about Apple's original content efforts, kindly leave a comment. Also keep coming back to this page, which we'll be updating over time as more information comes in.

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