Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon & More on What Drew Them to ‘The Morning Show’
Apple TV+ is nearly here, along with a number of original series, including The Morning Show.
Exploring events following The Morning Show co-host Mitch Kessler’s (Carell) fall from grace due to a scandal, the series tackles weighty issues with a range of tones, from comedy to wrenching drama.
And luckily, TV Insider was able to catch up with the stars and creatives on the red carpet at the show’s New York City premiere and NY Paley Center sneak peek. Below, we’re breaking down what we know about the show, the characters, the process and more.
The Beginning & What’s Next
You may be wondering how a star-studded production like this comes into existence and Reese Witherspoon says, “This show was just sort of born out of [executive producer] Michael Ellenberg sending me Brian Stelter’s book [Top of the Morning].
She adds, “Jen and I had been looking for a long time about something we wanted to do together, and we ended up loving this project and loving this world. And it seemed like something we could really have fun and dig into.”
This is the way many of the actress and producer’s projects come about — she’s currently adapting Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere for Hulu with Kerry Washington. “We just wrapped a few days ago,” the actress reveals about the next show on her docket, “and it’s great.”
“It’s coming out in March, and we’re just so excited” she tells us. “It really explores race and class in America in the 1990s, and what we thought we knew about race and how we got it all wrong. And I just really, I love Celeste Ng’s writing. I think it’s so complex and beautiful. So a lot of her words are in it, which is such a gift to be able to say.”
It’s no secret that this series tackles the #MeToo Movement — the words “accusation,” “co-host” and “fired” are all stated in the trailer — and with that comes the discussion of how such a topic is approached. “I wanted it to represent the world that I was hearing around me,” showrunner Kerry Ehrin tells us. “That’s what I wanted to tell the story of.”
“You’re watching everyone sort of stumble through what the new normal is,” Jennifer Aniston says, “and in a very honest and a very messy kind of vulnerable way. So it doesn’t really take any kind of side. It allows you to sort of watch with your own perspective.” Adds star Janina Gavankar, “Art imitates life and it would be irresponsible to make a show like this and not talk about what’s happening in this era.”
Outside of the other themes within the show, director and executive producer Mimi Leder explains, “It was important to me to tell the story with powerful women, made by powerful women and because I felt we could bring a breadth of our reality and our experiences to the story.
“I think we’re in the midst of a shifting cultural reality, and I think right now we’re in a moment of a cultural reckoning,” she adds. “And I really wanted to explore this time of reckoning, the truth, the stories of the #MeToo Movement, the stories of misconduct, the stories of humanity.”
Jennifer Aniston & Reese Witherspoon Are Women on a Mission in First 'The Morning Show' Trailer (VIDEO)
The show may feature some big names, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes of The Morning Show from directing and script-writing to two very dedicated executive producers who double as series leads.
“They’re real producers,” Ehrin says of Witherspoon and Aniston, who also serve as executive producers.”They had a lot of input. I mean not only about their characters but about the stories, about actors, how things look — everything.”
Ehrin joined the project back in April of 2018 and penned the pilot script. We asked her what moments or kinds of scenes from the show she enjoyed writing most and she couldn’t pick just one. “A lot of Billy Crudup’s [scenes are] really fun. A lot of the banter with Chip (Duplass) and Alex (Aniston) is really fun to write,” Ehrin reveals.
“I kind of enjoy some of the silliness that becomes more of the fun stuff. And then when you write something heartbreaking, you break your heart writing it. It’s a high like no other, it’s weird,” continues Ehrin. “I don’t know why writing works that way.”
“The writing, honestly, was so refreshingly good that I never had to really work that hard, because it was kind of all in the writing,” adds actress Victoria Tate, who plays assistant Rena Robinson to Duplass’ Chip.
One aspect of this show which sets the tone is the pacing which, according to Leder, was key. “It was very critical to keep it moving and to keep it feeling like insanity because this is live television and stuff is happening in the moment and so it was very important to keep the camera moving and keep the feeling of turmoil.”
As with any ensemble cast, it might be tough for one character to stand out, but Aniston’s Alex Levy is certainly quite the showstopper. When we ask the actress about what drew her to this project for her return to TV, she says, “Everything, it’s just a gorgeous exploration of the character, a wonderful world to explore — complicated and messy. It’s a neverending kind of wealth of subjects to explore.”
And Aniston’s Alex has a lot of emotions to explore — sometimes via good meltdown or two. “I’m not a meltdown kind of a person, so I do enjoy a good [onscreen] meltdown,” she says. “I now understand why people have them, because they do kind of give you some sort of a temporary relief.”
Star Karen Pittman, who plays Morning Show producer Mia Jordan, says of her character, “Over the course of the series, you see her working with Bradley Jackson (Witherspoon) and you see her deal very specifically with the fallout of Mitch Kessler’s departure. Adds Pittman, “Mia also happens to be someone who can see authenticity and truth in a person.”
“She is of the next generation,” Janina Gavankar who plays entertainment reporter Alison on The Morning Show says. “She understands that this [world] extends past broadcast news and she sees value in her Instagram following.”
The Morning Show is saying a lot in its first few episodes, and we’re only scratching the surface here. Make sure you catch the premiere on Apple TV+ when the first three episodes are launched in conjunction with the streaming platform November 1, and remaining installments will roll out weekly each Friday thereafter.
The Morning Show, Series Premiere, Friday, November 1, Apple TV+