Sources who visited Apple’s “iTunes Lounge” at the Sundance Film Festival said the company is courting “triple A-list” talent for original TV series to be launched on an “exclusives” app for Apple TV and sold on iTunes, Fast Company reports. The stealthy conversations at Sundance led to meetings in Los Angeles where Apple executives heard pitches for original TV shows from producers who kept things so quiet they were reportedly referring to Apple as the United Fruit Company. Five different sources who have spoken directly to Apple executives or have been briefed on Apple’s plans said the company is still “disorganized” in its approach and hasn’t yet presented a unified strategy for its original programming.
One aspect of Apple’s video production effort is focused solely on a group of short films, music videos, documentaries and original programs like Dr. Dre’s “Vital Signs,” all created with the express goal of promoting Apple Music. This new rumored avenue, secret for the time being, is aimed at flooding the market with several shows at once, all aspiring to the quality of shows like “House of Cards” and “Transparent” that have created such a buzz around Netflix and Amazon. The move flies in the face of comments by SVP Eddy Cue, who last month said a new unscripted series about apps in the works with Will.i.am didn’t represent any “broader ambition” for the company in terms of original productions.
More baffling are claims that Robert Kondrk, Apple’s VP of iTunes content and Cue’s lieutenant, is in charge of the new programming efforts. After losing its bid for “Top Gear” to Amazon and letting Bill Simmons get away to HBO, sources said Cue may be simply keeping expectations low, but there are concerns that Apple’s caution could limit the splash it wants to make when it finally enters the TV market. Despite the risks, Apple’s interest has reportedly caused something of a frenzy in Hollywood, with creators seemingly unfazed by the company’s lack of specifics. As one manager put it, there’s one overwhelming reason to take the chance: “Because it’s Apple.”