The Morning Show exec producer discusses show’s inspiration

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The Morning Show is off to a terrific start.
Photo: Apple

You may not have ever heard of him, but Apple TV+ has a lot riding on Michael Ellenberg.

As the executive producer of The Morning Show, Ellenberg’s unproven production company was the first to score a multi-season deal for Apple TV+. In a recent interview with Variety, Ellenberg discussed how ’90s morning TV shows inspired The Morning Show along with the pressure of developing two more shows for Apple TV+.

Although he’s not a household name, Ellenberg has a deep history with Hollywood and has touched some of your favorite shows. He got his start as a producer working for Ridley Scott and Scott Rudin. Eventually, he moved to HBO where he spent five years as a programming executive for shows like True Detective, Westworld, and Big Little Lies.

From HBO to Apple TV+

After leaving HBO in 2016, Ellenberg struck out to start his own production company called Media Res. He met Apple TV+ bosses Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht shortly after they had been hired by Apple and inked deal for the first TV series he was developing with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, The Morning Show. Media Res now has two other shows it’s making for Apple TV+: Pachinko, a high-budget drama series that follows the highs and lows of four generations of a Korean immigrant family, and an untitled spy drama series starring Brie Larson.

“Michael understands quality storytelling and has an ability to attract the best talent in an era of premium series,” Zack Van Amburg told Variety. “He has an ability to understand various perspectives brought by actors, writers, directors and his network partners. That’s a rare quality, and has given him a jump-start in successfully launching Media Res.”

Morning Show development

Jennifer Aniston praised Ellenberg’s energy and pursuit of excellence after working with him on The Morning Show. The show’s development was actually sparked by the drama between Michael Strahan and Kelly Rippa. Headlines from Strahan leaving Live With Kelly and Michael for a permanent role on Good Morning America prompted Ellenberg to option Brian Stelter’s book, Top of the Morning.

Producers behind The Morning Show say it required a collaborative spirit. The shows focus shifted from being just about the behind-the-scenes drama of morning talk shows, to making more social commentary. After a showrunner switch was necessary, some worried the show might flop butEllenberg’s work is already paying off. The Morning Show has been the most critically acclaimed show on Apple TV+ and even scored a couple of Golden Globe nominations. Hopefully, the Media Res’ next two shows are just as good.