Apple Has Made Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon the Highest Paid TV Stars in Hollywood

Reese Witherspoon Jennifer Aniston The Morning Show Apple Tv Credit: Apple
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Apple has never held back when it’s serious about breaking into a new industry. The iPod and iTunes revolutionized the music industry, the iPhone changed the mobile phone landscape forever, and the iPad has now defined what a tablet computer is supposed to be.

So not surprisingly, once Apple decided it was time to get serious about movies and TV shows, it entered Hollywood with the same confidence, boldness, and aggressiveness that the company showed with the music industry back in 2001. When Apple launched iTunes almost two decades ago, it sought out and made groundbreaking deals with every major music label, and we’ve all seen what came out of that.

Now with Apple TV+ on the cusp of launching to the world, The Hollywood Reporter has shared some other interesting details on Apple’s journey to Hollywood, and the kind of money that the trillion-dollar company is wiling to put on the table to ensure that it attracts the best talent it can in order to produce the best content it possibly can.

They didn’t step in halfway. They were smart to hire people who have spent their careers at the center of the TV business, and they didn’t stutter start.

CAA TV agent Sonya Rosenfeld, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter

The Highest Paid Stars

The report also recaps some of the early obstacles we’d already heard about with The Morning Show, along with the revelation that Apple spent $300 million on two seasons of that particular series alone, with $40 million of that going to Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, who are making a negotiated $2 million each per episode simply for their starring roles — and that’s on top of what they’re also receiving as executive producers and owners of the show.

This easily places Aniston and Witherspoon among the highest paid television stars in Hollywood, coming in just behind Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men), Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond), and Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) — the only other members of the “$2 Million Club” (after adjustments for inflation are factored in).

While The Morning Show also stars Steve Carrell, it appears that he’s not considered one of the main cast, and (spoiler alert!) he’s actually only got a one-year deal for the show, despite the fact that Apple has ordered two seasons of it. In fact, Apple is already reportedly searching for a new high-profile male lead to replace him in the second season.

Changing the Game

With Apple taking Hollywood by storm — making bold new deals with A-list creators such as Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg and setting up its own in-house studio — there’s every reason to expect Apple TV+ to do for television and movies what iTunes did for music. For one thing, Apple is taking the rather unique approach of going at it solely with its own staple of brand new content, rather than having a large library of licensed content to fall back on. This gives Apple the kind of independence it likes to have, and it’s a smart move in an era when everybody from Disney to Warner and NBC are setting up their own competing services and clawing back on their licensing deals anyway. Apple will be beholden to no one when it comes to the success or failure of Apple TV+.

The two-way relationship they have with the consumer and the vast number of consumers they have, that’s going to be game-changing,

CAA TV agent Rob Kenneally, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter

Secondly, Apple already has a huge and loyal customer base that are already plugged into its ecosystem. This means that when Apple TV+ launches next month, most people will be able to subscribe to it with the push of a button and the scan of a face.

‘Stories to Believe In’

While there have been some conflicting reports about how much Apple is actually involved in the production of each show, the Reporter indicates that there’s still a certain amount of direct involvement just to “ensure that each show fits the Apple brand.”

Despite rumours that Apple was going to avoid risqué content and stay “family friendly,” this seems to be more about ensuring that whatever a show is doing fits the story that Apple wants to tell. For example, The Morning Show doesn’t shy away from using adult language and situations, but Apple clearly feels that explicit and edgy content shouldn’t simply be there for “shock value” or for its own sake unless it contributes to the story.

By contrast, Apple recently scrapped the gritty and violent drama Bastards that would have told the story of two aging and disillusioned Vietnam vets who go on a youth-focused killing spree. However, by all reports the show wasn’t scrapped solely because of the violent content, but rather due to its focus on a “tone of vigilante justice” rather than the “larger metaphor of friendship” between the two stars.

A similar fate appears to have delayed Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories anthology, which the original showrunners had envisioned as an “edgy, high-concept” show, but Apple declared that vision as being too dark and replaced the original lead team with Once Upon a Time duo Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Despite a report earlier this week that said that the series would also be coming in November, it appears to have been delayed.

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