Apple hires Sony execs who helped bring Breaking Bad to the screen

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Apple's two newest recruits.
Photo: Sony Pictures Television

As part of its renewed focus on original programming, Apple has hired two Sony Pictures Television presidents, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, for positions overseeing worldwide video-related work for the company.

“Jamie and Zack are two of the most talented TV executives in the world and have been instrumental in making this the golden age of television,” said Eddy Cue, who the two new recruits will report to. “We have exciting plans in store for customers and can’t wait for them to bring their expertise to Apple — there is much more to come.”

Negotiations to bring the pair aboard at Apple heated up in the past several month. Apple hasn’t elaborated on what they’ll be doing, but trade publication Variety suggests it relates to creating new original show for Apple Music. Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht have been at Sony TV since 2005. They will work out of Apple offices in Los Angeles.

Shows that the duo have been involved with include NBC’s The Blacklist, ABC’s The Goldbergs, AMC’s Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, and Netflix’s The Crown.

“It will be an honor to be part of the Apple team,” said Erlicht in a statement. “We want to bring to video what Apple has been so successful with in their other services and consumer products — unparalleled quality.”

“Apple has a relentless focus on delighting customers with their products,” Van Amburg added. “We will bring that same intention to Apple’s programming and we could not be more excited about what lies ahead.”

Although Apple has always been keen to say it’s not trying to compete with Netflix and Amazon, it has been paying more and more attention to creating original programming. This has so far been geared toward selling Apple Music, although there’s also been discussion of a possible Apple TV package the company is working on.

Focusing on original content

Recently Apple has acquired a number of music-related documentaries, predominantly in the RnB or hip-hop genres. These have included one on legendary exec Clive Davis, a documentary about the iconic Roland TR-808 drum machine, and popular hip-hop record label Cash Money Records and P Diddy’s Bad Boy label.

Apple has also dipped its toe tentatively in the pool of original content by planning a TV series of Carpool Karaoke, which will feature different pairs of musicians and celebrities for a 16-episode run. Last week it also debuted Planet of the Apps, an iOS developer-focused show whose first episode we reviewed here.

Last month, it was reported that Apple has met with HBO’s former programming head Michael Lombardo about coming aboard as a possible head of programming. During a nine-year stint as program chief at HBO, Lombardo helped launch True BloodGirlsVeepSilicon ValleyLast Week Tonight with John Oliver and Game of Thrones.

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