Octavia Spencer

Apple has given themselves a $1 billion budget as they try to build a repertoire of original TV shows, and they’ve been spending it quite nicely since last summer.  Most recently, on Octavia Spencer and the show Are You Sleeping?  Which is a show based on Kathleen Barber’s novel of the same name.  Spencer starred in both Hidden Figures and The Help.  Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife) will create and write the show.  Sarah Koenig (executive producer of Serial) will consult on the show. This choice is an interesting one for Apple.  Why?  Well, they are choosing to develop this show, as opposed to ordering a straight-to-series as they did with a few other shows.  I think this speaks to the kind of content that Apple is going for.

Octavia Spencer

What will the show be about?  It’s based on a novel, and as we know the plot can change at the discretion of Apple (in this case).  But the novel itself is pretty interesting, so it’s likely to pick up a lot of viewers:

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

This is the kind of show that everyone is loving right now.  There’s mystery and it’s relevant.  When I say it’s relevant, it’s based around a podcast.  And who isn’t listening to some podcasts these days?  Not to mention, there are quite a few podcasts that are essentially storytelling.  Which makes them more appealing, in my opinion.  And that’s what makes this show a great move for Apple.  I can’t emphasize that enough.

Anniston and Witherspoon

What I haven’t mentioned is that this show will be produced by Reese Witherspoon’s company Hello Sunshine.  This is the second Witherspoon-involved production that Apple has acquired.  They will be producing a TV drama written by Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston back in November.  In addition to that, Apple secured an anthology series produced by Steven Spielberg in October and a series from Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore last month. It’s unknown what part Spencer will play in the show, but as far as actors go they likely can’t get anyone bigger.  Unless they get Oprah, but I think it’s safe to say that they won’t.  I’m actually really looking forward to seeing what kinds of content they come up with over the next couple of years.