How Apple Finally Convinced Jennifer Aniston to Return to TV

Jennifer Aniston Morning Show Trailer1 Credit: Apple
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Two years ago, when Apple’s plans for what would eventually become Apple TV+ were still in their infancy, Apple’s new dynamic duo of top TV execs knew that they would need to get some high-profile content if the company’s streaming service was going to be a hit. One of their first moves after putting together Apple’s new worldwide video programming division was to boldly approach Hollywood’s Creative Arts Agency (CAA) to attempt to woo talent no less significant than Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

The result was Apple’s very first original content deal, signed in November 2017 for a “morning drama series” that would later become the much-talked-about The Morning Show. While producing the new series hasn’t been without its obstacles, by the time the dust settled, Apple had poured hundreds of millions of dollars into ensuring its success — more than it cost HBO to produce the entire final season of Game of Thrones.

While Apple’s very deep pockets undoubtedly played a part in signing many of its higher profile content deals, there’s also no underestimating the role the company’s culture and reputation has played as well. For example, Oprah, who is already one of the wealthiest producers in Hollywood, joined forces with Apple because she believes in Apple TV+ and the audience that it can reach.

Now, in a new interview with Variety, Jennifer Aniston speaks for the first time about her partnership with Apple on The Morning Show, sharing similar feelings about Apple’s culture and the work that she will be doing with them.

There was really something exciting about being the first at Apple. Apple is pretty awesome. They make cool stuff. Why wouldn’t they maybe make cool television? And they are all about quality, not quantity, so that was really appealing. And in spite of their comical secrecy, it’s been worth it. Who doesn’t want to be part of the Wild Wild West?

Jennifer Aniston, in an interview with Variety

Aniston goes on to note that “even though they didn’t have walls yet or telephones” she was still excited about working with Apple, and while she had some reservations, they were minor compared to the excitement of not only working with Apple, but being the first to do so, and Aniston was confident that her production team “knew what we were doing.”

Back to TV

In fact, if anything, it’s remarkable that Apple has been able to attract Aniston back to the small screen after an illustrious film career. Aniston’s headlining appearance in The Morning Show will be the first time she’s been on TV since her legendary role as Rachel Green in Friends made her a household name 15 years ago.

There haven’t been a shortage of offers, either, with Aniston saying she’s declined many over the years out of a desire to focus on films, plus the feeling that nothing could compare with the experience she had while working on Friends.

The Morning Show, however, appears to have reinvigorated this desire in Aniston, not only in terms of working with Apple, but also for the sake of the material itself. While the show was originally envisioned as simply focusing on the “cutthroat world of morning TV,” Variety notes that it was “completely rewritten” for the “Me Too” movement after Matt Lauer was fired from Today in November 2017, less than a month after Aniston inked her deal with Apple.

The show got picked up. We sold it to Apple with an outline. Then, about four months later, the whole s— hit the fan and, basically, we had to start from scratch.

Jennifer Aniston, in an interview with Variety

However, although Mitch Kessler, the disgraced anchor who will be played by Steve Carell on The Morning Show, bears some resemblances to Lauer, Aniston insists that the the show is a work of fiction. In fact, Aniston adds that while studying old episodes of Today and Good Morning America to develop her character for The Morning Show, she even re-watched Today from the day before Lauer was fired, asking herself whether he knew it was coming.

I went to the DVR that I had of “Today” before Matt Lauer was fired and then the day he was fired, because that was so fascinating to see. Mitch Kessler is not based on him at all. He’s just sort of the archetype of all of the men that he’s representing.

Jennifer Aniston, in an interview with Variety

The Explosion of Streaming

Aniston notes that she was also encouraged to return to TV by the rise of streaming services, and the amount of quality content now being produced by all of them, along with the shift of Hollywood big screen films into the Marvel universe — she says she wasn’t “really that interested in living in a green screen,” and would much rather see the “era of Meg Ryan come back” when there were more “cozy” and dramatic films showing in theatres.

At the same time, Aniston reveals that she has mixed feelings about streaming, saying that she’s both “shocked” and “excited” that this is where things are at, and has been even more surprised that companies like Apple, Netflix, and WarnerMedia are putting such huge amounts of money into it, specifically citing the $80 million that the latter recently paid for the streaming rights to Friends.

While Aniston has only signed on for two seasons of The Morning Show so far, she also isn’t ruling out doing a third season, as long as “there’s stuff to talk about” and they’re not “dead tired from it.”

The Morning Show has understandably been one of Apple’s most-hyped new shows, and it’s expected to debut right away when Apple TV+ launches on Nov. 1, although it’s likely that only the first couple of episodes will be available at launch, with viewers needing to follow a more traditional weekly release schedule to keep up with the show.

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