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Published on September 22nd, 2018 | by Brad Gibson

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WSJ: Apple lays ground rules that its TV shows be sex, profanity and violence-free

Apple is creating more than 17 different TV shows for its yet-to-be-announced streaming strategy, but it will be content that steers clear of sex, religion, violence, politics and risqué storylines, according to sources interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. Reports are Apple has also backed up the release of any of its new shows until March of 2019 and possibly further than that.

In its story “No Sex Please, We’re Apple: iPhone Giant Seeks TV Success on Its Own Terms”, published Saturday (requires subscription to read), the Journal reports Apple has drawn the line on its planned programming being anything more than PG-like in terms of appropriateness so as to not “taint a pristine brand image.”

Sources tell the Journal CEO Tim Cook recently nixed the direction of Vital Signs, one of the first scripted dramas licensed by the company, based on the semi-biographical tale of hip-hop artist Dr. Dre.

Cook reportedly told Apple Music executive Jimmy Lovine early edits of the show he had seen were too violent and made it clear that Apple “wants high-quality shows with stars and broad appeal, but it doesn’t want gratuitous sex, profanity or violence,” according to the business newspaper.

“The result is an approach out of step with the triumphs of the video-streaming era,” the Journal wrote, comparing it to programming from HBO, Amazon, and Netflix that feature plenty of rough language and sex.

Apple has twice postponed the launch of its first slate of shows, according to agents and producers interviewed, moving it to March from late this year. One leading producer with projects at Apple expects the date to be pushed back even further than March.

Sources said Apple is extremely concerned with its image and doesn’t want its programming to negatively impact sales of its primary profit streams, like the iPhone and monthly subscription services like iTunes.

Those same sources report Apple’s Hollywood executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht “devote considerable time to winning a nod for shows from Mr. Cook and Eddy Cue,” two men that have virtually no experience in television writing or production.

One source reported Apple signed a deal for a series made by M. Night Shyamalan about a couple who lose a young child, but specifically requested the producers “eliminate the crucifixes in the couple’s house,” concerned they were venturing too close to “religious subjects or politics.”

Where Apple draws the line isn’t clear, producers, agents, and writers said.

“I’m not sure myself what they’re after,” said producer Shawn Ryan, whose credits include the FX hit The Shield. “I do adore Zack and Jamie and trust in their taste. I think we’re all curious to see what it’s going to be.”

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of BESTAppleTV.com. He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as MacNN.com, MacObserver.com, MacCentral.com, MacMinute.com, and Macworld.com. He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the Associated Press and United Press International.



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