Apple TV+ shows streaming-wars clout with renewals for series that haven’t yet debuted

January 20, 2020, 1:20 AM UTC
Apple TV+ Winter TCA
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 19: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon of "The Morning Show" speak onstage during the Apple TV+ segment of the 2020 Winter TCA Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 19, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
David Livingston—Getty Images

If Apple TV+ hadn’t already proven itself a formidable presence in the head-spinningly packed TV landscape—the tech giant did lure Jennifer Aniston back to series television—the streamer used its first-ever appearance at the biannual Television Critics Association Press Tour to reinforce just how confident its execs are in the company’s next wave of programming.

The final day of nearly two weeks of talent panels and executive presentations concluded in Pasadena, Calif. Sunday with Apple TV+’s announcements.

And there were many: the platform handed out early renewals for two series in advance of their premieres: the comedy Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet and drama Home Before Dark.

They join existing fare The Morning Show, which earned a second season out of the gate last year; the just-debuted Alan Yang/Kumail Nanjiani immigrant-anthology series Little America; M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant; and a slew of others (Dickinson, See, and For All Mankind) as the company continues to brand itself a home for A-list talent. (See also Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s just-inked overall deal with the company.)

Talent from a handful of series were present on Sunday to tout their work. Mythic Quest star and EP Rob McElhenney appeared with his writers and cast to chat about their silly-leaning video-game satire (those episodes drop Feb. 7). Producers Wanda Sykes, Wilson Cruz, and Ryan White also shared revelations about delving into Hollywood’s LGBTQ history in making Visible: Out on Television (all of those episodes premiere Feb. 14).

At least one panel on Sunday boasted equal-parts charm and tension. Morning Show talent Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Billy Crudup, and EPs Mimi Leder and Michael Ellenberg were asked to defend their early cries of “fake news” over some less-than-flattering early reviews of the series upon its Nov. 1 debut. “I think that journalists and obviously everyone has a right to their opinion. And I think there was a lot of expectations for this series,” said Leder. “Some people are rooting you on and some people are wanting you to fail. It’s just kind of the nature of the beast.”

“Everyone on this panel engages with the press and respects the press. We’re also all passionate,” added Ellenburg. “Certainly no one holds anything against the press for engaging with us.”

“I have no problem hearing real opinions; it helps us make it better and work harder. I welcome the criticism,” Witherspoon said.

“Especially constructive criticism,” added Aniston.

Fortune asked latter, who garnered 16.5 million followers on Instagram just 10 days after she first joined the platform last fall, about the increasing demands on actors to promote their work in social media, a stress that didn’t exist during her broadcast-comedy days in the early 1990s. Aniston quipped: “I’m a newbie… I’m just glad I had something to talk about that wasn’t my breakfast or latest workout at the gym.”

Elsewhere on the scheduling front, Apple announced that Steven Spielberg’s 1980s episodic anthology Amazing Stories is (re)launching March 6; and April will see the debut of three other originals: Home Before Dark (April 3, three episodes), the real-estate docuseries Home (all episodes), and the Chris Evans-led crime drama Defending Jacob (April 24, three episodes).

And the animated musical comedy Central Park from Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard—who on Sunday defended his casting, again of male voice actors in female roles, as he’s done on his Fox comedy—will launch in early summer.

“Animation just makes you want to take this voice and have it come out if this face,” Bouchard said when asked to comment on the casting of male actors Daveed Diggs and Stanley Tucci in two key female parts. “Hopefully there’s something about it that makes sense.”

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