Apple is ‘difficult’ to work with on original content: report

Apple’s long-gestating original content plans have been marred by “intrusive” executives, according to a report from The New York Post

A number of Hollywood producers told The Post that it has been “difficult” to work with the Cupertino-based tech giant on its $1 billion USD streaming project. These producers say Apple executives — including, most notably, company CEO Tim Cook — have been “very involved” in the creative process, which has resulted in clashes with various writers and directors.

One of the producers’ biggest problems with Apple’s hands-on approach has to do with the company’s desire for all of its content to be family-friendly. Even though Apple’s original series include such big-names as Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, the company is still reportedly restricting its talent creatively.

“Tim Cook is giving notes and getting involved,” one of the producers told The Post. According to this producer, Cook has visited some of the sets of the shows and has even said “don’t be so mean!” multiple times to writers and directors after seeing what they were working on.

Cook’s insistence on all-ages content appears to have already led to problems in a number of shows. To start, Apple’s sudden April 2017 delay of its Carpool Karaoke: The Series was reportedly due to Tim Cook ordering the removal of “foul language and references to vaginal hygiene” from one of the episodes.

Subsequent reports stated that Apple didn’t want any religious imagery like a crucifix in its M. Night Shyamalan-produced thriller series and even passed on a Whitney Cummings comedy about the #MeToo movement, deeming it “too sensitive a topic.”

Further, the company even opted to scrap its semi-autobiographical Vital Signs series about Dr. Dre due to “graphic depictions of violence, sex and drug use,” according to The Wall Street Journal. 

Apple also reportedly wants to stay clear of any shows that are critical of technology. “They want a positive view of technology,” one producer told The Post. 

On the other hand, a December 2018 report from CNBC stated that Apple is eyeing a violent Richard Gere-led Israeli series as its answer to AMC’s Breaking Bad drama, so it remains to be seen exactly what kind of content the company will approve.

In any case, Apple’s heavy micromanaging of these series has led Hollywood executives to feel frustrated over a “lack of clarity” and “lack of transparency” over Apple’s streaming efforts. According to these producers, Apple executives insist that they meet its Cupertino headquarters to get approval on tech changes, which disrupts the producers’ work on the shows in Los Angeles.

Further, these producers aren’t sure exactly what Apple plans for its original series. “They are making big changes, firing and hiring new writers. There’s a lack of clarity on what they want,” one producer told The Post. “A lot of the product is not as good as they hoped it to be.”

According to The Post, the service likely won’t launch until the end of the year — markedly later than the April 2019 debut reported earlier in January.

That said, the company is stillexpected to unveil the streaming service on March 25th at an event in Cupertino. The original series will reportedly be offered for free in Apple’s TV app alongside paid platforms like HBO and Starz. It’s unlikely that HBO and Starz content will be part of the Canadian version of the service.

Source: The New York Post