Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and other Hollywood A-listers trekked to Cupertino, California, on Monday for an Apple event designed to showcase a slate of TV shows coming this fall.
They talked about purpose and storytelling and how the tech giant plans to provide “a unique opportunity to rise to our best selves in how we use, and choose to use, both our technology and our humanity,” Winfrey told the crowd after wild applause greeted her arrival at the tail end of the two-hour presentation.
“They’re the company that has reimagined how we communicate,” she said. “They’re in a billion pockets, y’all. A billion pockets.”
It all resembled the grand tradition of TV “upfronts,” in which traditional networks unveil upcoming shows to advertisers ahead of the spring ad-sales season, with plenty of amped-up promotional trailers. Except in this case there are no ads, and there were no trailers.
Instead, after a lead-up that included plans to sell subscriptions to magazines, newspapers and video games, as well as a new credit card, the bigwigs’ show-and-tell was mostly tell for the Apple TV+ streaming service due this fall. Part of the souped-up Apple TV app, arriving in May, it will feature several original series and function as a portal to view premium channels or streaming services such as HBO, Showtime, Starz, CBS All Access and Acorn TV, for which Apple will sell bundled monthly subscriptions. It revealed no pricing information and showed only a brief montage from new shows.
What’s new? Oprah
Winfrey unveiled plans for two documentaries: “Toxic Labor,” to examine “the toll of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace,” and an untitled look at mental health, “and how the sense of depression, anxiety, addiction and loss is devastating society.”
She’s also resurrecting Oprah’s Book Club (again), this time featuring live-streamed conversations with authors across Apple devices.
‘The Morning Show’
Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon officially unveiled their drama about the cutthroat world of “Today,” “Good Morning America” and the like. Witherspoon promised to “pull back the curtain on the power dynamic between men and women in morning shows … as seen through the eyes of two ambitious female producers.”
The man? Steve Carell, who made sure to mention his character would be “bold and dynamic,” someone with “gravitas” who’s a “great listener.”
Jason Momoa and ‘See’
One show that received scant advance attention is ‘See,’ starring the “Aquaman” actor and Alfre Woodard, who described it as a post-apocalyptic drama set in “a world devastated by a virus,” in which “the survivors emerge blind.” The lesson? “How much of our experience is visual,” she said.
Spielberg’s ‘Amazing Stories’
Spielberg promoted the revival of “Amazing Stories,” which last surfaced as a failed 1980s NBC anthology series, and said it would tell all-new stories with rotating casts. One segment will focus on a World War II pilot who time-travels from the past.
Kumail Nanjiani and the immigrant experience
The comedian and actor (“Silicon Valley,” “The Big Sick”) is behind “Little America,” a documentary series that profiles immigrants from Iran, Syria, Nigeria, Mexico and elsewhere living in American towns in Texas, Oklahoma and California, among others, with stories directed by immigrants or their children.
It’s “designed to help viewers understand there is no such thing as ‘the other,'” Nanjiani said. “There is only us.”
Sesame Street’s ‘Helpsters’
Big Bird introduced his latest puppet friend, Cody, who will headline “Helpsters,” a new preschool series from Sesame Workshop that teaches preschoolers about computer coding.
“Little Voice,” from singer Bareilles and super-producer J.J. Abrams, is a new series that portrays “the struggles, the drama, the insanity” of “a young woman looking to find her voice as an artist and as a person” in New York, much like her own story. Bareilles will create, producer and act as composer on the project.
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