Apple has cash to splash at the Toronto film festival

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Sony Pictures Television
Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht are two of the masterminds behind Apple's original content strategy.
Photo: Sony Pictures Television

Apple may be commissioning its own TV shows, but it’s also picking up finished productions, too. With that goal in mind, Apple is sending some of its top production names to the Toronto International Film Festival this week to try and acquire new content.

According to trade magazine Variety, at least one of Apple’s top entertainment programming execs, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, will be in attendance at the festival — and they’ll have “checkbooks in hand.”

Apple Music is getting a new doc about Christine and The Queens

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Apple Music
Apple Music is helping break new acts.
Photo: Apple Music

Right now, a lot of the discussion of Apple’s original video content focuses on the drama series the company is developing. But Apple’s not abandoning its focus on creating videos to promote Apple Music musicians — as a pair of new teaser trailers make clear.

The short teasers are for an upcoming documentary to coincide with Chris, artist Héloïse Letissier’s second album as Christine and The Queens. Check them out below.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt actress signs on for Apple TV show

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Jane_Krakowski
Apple has recruited another name actor for its original TV efforts.
Photo: Watchwithkristin/Wikipedia CC

Actress Jane Krakowski, perhaps best known for starring in Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and NBC’s 30 Rock, has reportedly signed on to join an Apple original TV series.

Krakowski will join the cast in Apple’s Dickinson series, a comedic look at the world of 19th century poet Emily Dickinson.

Pioneering female director will helm Apple’s Jennifer Aniston TV series

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Producer/director Mimi Leder, center, worked on award-winning series The Leftovers.
Producer/director Mimi Leder, center, worked on award-winning series The Leftovers.
Photo: Peabody Awards/Flickr CC

A director known for ER, The West Wing and Shameless episodes, and even the Deep Impact disaster movie, will go behind the camera for one of the many TV shows Apple is producing. Mimi Leder reportedly agreed to take on the upcoming program starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

The drama, which doesn’t yet have a name, will be set behind the scenes at a fictional morning TV show.

Apple boosts pay for writers on its original TV shows

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apple tvPIC
Apple is continuing to invest in original TV content.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

As part of its push into original video content, Apple signed a Writers Guild of America master contract promising writers greater benefits.

The deal means that scribes employed by Apple to work on its growing list of projects will receive script fees, weekly payments and residuals on shows that air for free. This is a better deal for writers than the current baseline agreement on offer.

Netflix calls itself the ‘anti-Apple’ at its own peril

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Netflix iPhone
You’ll have to pay extra to keep four streams.
Photo: Netflix

As the current king of the streaming video world, Netflix knows it’s got a target on its back — and it’s certainly sweating because Apple wants to steal its crown. So Netflix is using a tactic once employed by Apple, positioning itself as a scrappy, nimble upstart able to easily outflank its deep-pocketed adversaries.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even called his company “the anti-Apple” this weekend, painting Cupertino as a secretive company limited in its operational speed by obsessive top-down control.

That’s a misreading of the situation, and a serious strategic mistake. In fact, if Netflix misplays its cards, it could find itself Sherlocked.

Apple loses out to HBO on bid for J.J. Abrams’ new sci-fi series

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JJ Abrams
Abrams went with the established HBO over newcomer Apple.
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia CC

Apple may have $268.9 billion in cash on hand, but it doesn’t get everything it wants. According to a new report, Apple lost out to HBO on acquiring a new original TV series written by J.J. Abrams, his first since 2008’s Fringe.

Called Demimonde the series is about a family whose mom winds up in a coma following a car crash, after which her daughter and husband are transported to another world to fight a monstrous, oppressive force. HBO is describing the series as, “an epic and intimate sci-fi fantasy drama.”

Top-rated UK TV exec in talks with Apple

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Apple original content
Jay Hunt, former creative content chief with Channel 4 in Great Britain, may join Apple's efforts to create original programming.
Photo: Edinburgh International Television Festival/YouTube

Apple is reportedly close to landing another heavy hitter to help build original content.

Jay Hunt, who recently left Great Britain’s Channel 4 after seven years as its chief creative officer, is in talks with Apple for an executive position, according to several British news sites that cover UK’s television industry.