TV Surf Report: Take A Bite Out Of Apple TV’s Upcoming Development Slate Of Original Programming…


{Updated Sept. 24, 2019}

Santa Monica, CAApple TV  launches November 1 and will cost $4.99/mo. The newest addition to our Streaming World has a lot of exciting programming in development that we can watch soon on our phones*, watches, tablets and various other Apple devices.

The type of programming Apple is developing tells us about their Strategy (and Audience):

Firstly, they ordered projects Straight to Series with 10 episodes, no effing Pilot bullshit! Secondly, they like Big Names: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Jennifer Garner, and Octavia Spencer.

Thirdly, like every other programmer out there, Apple is relying heavily on Adaptations (books, films, series).  Original Concepts comprise a low percentile of Apple’s development slate (see the cool list I made for you below!). Apple is going for shows that already have a built-in audience waiting to see them (and talk about them on Social Media).

Apple is a Blue Chip Brand, and I would not bet against them, especially since the company is devoting $1 Billion in producing original content in the next year. Variety Projects Apple to Spend 4.2 Billion by 2022

It’s looking like Apple will launch it streaming service with content from partners like HBO, Showtime and Starz before premiering its original series later this year, so enjoy all the Carpool Karaoke you can handle, per Bloomberg News.


The Sony Connection.

Apple’s gain is Sony’s loss as its executives all come from that studio: Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg are running the show. Kim Rozenfeld oversees current programming. Max Aronson and Ali Woodruff are the development execs. One of their high profile producers is Ronald D. Moore (Outlander), who has a deal with Sony.

Meanwhile, the Competition for Streaming looks fierce as Apple, DC Universe (featuring all those DC super heroes), Disney+ (featuring all those Marvel super heroes), Warner Bros. (Friends reruns!) , and NBC/Universal/Comcast all will be vying for our attention and dollars.

Let’s take a look at what $1 Billion gets ya: No Super Heroes. True Crime, Family Drama and Science Fiction, though!  Again, most of these series are Adaptations:


  • Pachinko is an adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s novel which tells the story of four generations of a Korean immigrant family. Drama will be told in three languages:  Korean, Japanese and English. Interesting! Soo Hugh (The Terror) scripts and EPs. Michael Ellenberg’s company, Media Res, produces.  Ellenberg is a former HBO exec.
  • Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA is another adaptation of a memoir which is to star Brie Larson (Captain Marvel). Ellenberg and Media Res produce.
  • The Morning Show with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston starring in this drama about Morning TV inspired by Brian Stelter’s book Top of the Morning: Inside The Cutthroat World of Morning TV . Steve Carell also stars. Jay Carson (House of Cards) scripts this 10-episode series which has a guaranteed two-season order. Michael Ellenberg also EPs alongside Witherspoon and Aniston, who will be making $1.25m per episode!
  • SEE stars Jason Momoa in an 8-ep. limited science fiction series which is set 600 years in the future where everyone is blind following a catastrophic event. Alfre Woodard co-stars. Here’s the Trailer.
  • Time Bandits is an adaptation of Terry Gilliam’s film by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnorak) who will write and direct the first episode. A time travel comedy.  I’m in!
  • My Glory Was I Had Such Friends  J.J. Abrams and Jennifer Garner produce/star in this 13-episode adaptation of Amy Silverstein’s memoir about her circle of women friends who helped her as she waited for a live-saving transplant. Premieres in late 2019.
  • Shantaram Paramount TV and Anonymous Content produce this adaptation of Gregory David Roberts’ novel. Eric Warren Singer (American Hustle) scripts and EPs this epic story set in Australia and India. Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) set to star.
  • Dickinson is a half-hour comedy starring Hailee Steinfeld (Pitch Perfect). Anonymous Content produces.
  • Foundation David S. Goyer (DaVinci’s Demons, Krypton) and Josh Friedman (Snowpiercer, Sarah Conner Chronicles) get 10 episodes to adapt Isaac Asimov’s SF trilogy about the 1000-year saga of people defying the Galactic Empire. Hmm. I wonder if George Lucas read these books prior to Star Wars. Just a thought!
  • Defending Jacob Chris Evans (Captain America, Snowpiercer) stars in this straight-to-series order about a man whose 14-year-old son is accused of murder. Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) co-stars. True Crime story is based on William Landhay’s 2012 novelVariety’s Got The Deets….  
  • Amazing Stories Steven Spielberg’s anthology series gets a re-boot here.  Bryan Fuller (American Gods) was attached initially to EP but has since left the project. Ten episodes ordered.
  • For All Mankind Ron Moore (Outlander, BSG) has a cool SciFi drama that ponders the question, what if the Space Race never ended? Sony TV produces. Lone Original Concept in the inaugural development slate. Interesting to note that the ex-Sony execs programming Apple TV go with someone like Moore whom they know and trust to deliver. Joel Kinnaman, Sarah Jones, Michael Dorman, and Jodi Balfour lead the cast.
  • Are You Sleeping stars Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water, The Help) in a drama about this country’s obsession with true crime stories and podcasts and how crime solving plays out in public. Series is adapted from Kathleen Barber’s novel.  Reese Witherspoon and Peter Chernin EP. Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife) scripts and EPs. Ten episodes ordered. This series has a great cast that includes Elizabeth Perkins, Lizzy Caplan, Aaron Paul, and Tracie Toms.

(*) I did not realize my phone already has an Apple TV icon, but it does! Yours does, too.

U P    N E X T:

When Is Too Much TV … Just Too Much?!?


About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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