Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg:
Erlicht and Van Amburg have agreed to remake Steven Spielberg’s anthology series Amazing Stories with NBCUniversal and are in the bidding for another show, about morning TV show hosts played by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Apple wants to have a small slate of shows ready for release in 2019. “I think for both NBC and Apple, it’s about finding that sweet spot with content that is creative and challenging but also allows as many people in the tent as possible,” says Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment.
However, Apple isn’t interested in the types of shows that become hits on HBO or Netflix, like Game of Thrones — at least not yet. The company plans to release the first few projects to everyone with an Apple device, potentially via its TV app, and top executives don’t want kids catching a stray nipple. Every show must be suitable for an Apple Store. Instead of the nudity, raw language, and violence that have become staples of many TV shows on cable or streaming services, Apple wants comedies and emotional dramas with broad appeal, such as the NBC hit This Is Us, and family shows like Amazing Stories. People pitching edgier fare, such as an eight-part program produced by Gravity filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón and starring Casey Affleck, have been told as much.
I’m not saying that every show needs to have nudity, profanity, and gore galore, but interesting stories, history, and real day-to-day life are rarely as sanitized as a G or PG rating requires.
If it’s their brand they’re concerned about, I don’t get why Apple doesn’t pull a Disney and create their own version of Touchstone Pictures. Aljean Harmetz, reporting for the New York Times in 1984:
In an attempt to recapture its lost teen-age and young adult audience, Walt Disney Productions announced today that it will keep some of its new movies as far away from the Disney name as possible. The Disney label will be replaced by the name Touchstone Films. The Disney name will be kept, however, on its traditional movies for young children.
I understand that Apple is taking a fairly cautious approach with their original programming efforts. Their first two shows were X Factor but for apps, and an idea purchased from late night television about celebrities singing in the car. I’m sure there’s more ambition ahead. But it’s really hard to combine this rumour with the lacklustre series they’ve released so far and not feel a bit concerned, especially when Netflix’s first original series was the rightfully-admired House of Cards. And that is not a family-friendly affair.
I don’t care where good television comes from. I don’t even care that we have way too much TV as it is, though I wish there wasn’t the expectation that I am somehow able to keep up with every hot show plus all the franchises and cinematic universes that they are somehow connected with. I just like good art. I think Apple has the taste to be the money behind some really great work — they already have. But Netflix is already there with critically-acclaimed shows and big names. Apple could do that too, which makes their very cautious — and, so far, weak — approach all the more curious.