'Triple A-list talent' said to be part of Apple's secret push into original TV

Apple has been rumored to be considering a bigger push into original video content for iTunes and Apple TV for a while now, and a new report claims that the company is aiming to launch those efforts in force with a little help from some Hollywood elite.

According to FastCompany, Apple quietly courted a number of Sundance Film Festival attendees in what was dubbed the "iTunes Lounge." The extremely low-key affair wasn't publicized in any way, but it was the beginning of a larger effort by Apple to begin pursuing original content possibilities more aggressively — including plans to work with "triple A-list talent."

The iTunes Lounge was in fact part of a stealth effort by Apple to establish a new, more active role in delivering entertainment. In the weeks that followed, Apple execs were in Los Angeles hearing pitches for original TV series that it plans to launch on an "exclusives" app on Apple TV and within iTunes. Apple wants to work with "triple A-list" talent, according to a source, and build up a roster of must-see shows available only on its platform. Naturally, the talks have been veiled in the utmost secrecy. Producers who have met with Apple will refer to it only as the United Fruit Company.

These efforts, FastCompany reports, are part of a so-called "two-lane" approach to original content by Apple. The first lane is said to encompass short films, music videos and documentaries. The second lane, however, would be more akin to Netflix and Amazon-style original series. The latter is said to be a "deeply undercover" effort at the moment.

In March, Apple announced it will partner with artist Will.i.am to produce its first foray into original video content with an unscripted series about the App Store. At the time, Apple's Eddy Cue said that people should not expect a lot of TV or movie content from Apple. However, the tech giant is also said to be working on a show starring Dr. Dre, and the company has also partnered with Vice on a six-episode series titled "The Score," which explores music scenes around the world.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster