I’m willing to bet very few people saw this one coming. Dr. Dre has confirmed he will be starring in a new series that Apple TV is producing.
There are a few weird things about that sentence, because the milestone involves a few firsts.
Firstly, Dr. Dre has never acted on TV before. Forbes reports that Dre has been on TV, but his appearances have always been unscripted. Dr. Dre has also had very small scripted parts in a few movies (remember when Dre played Paul in Training Day? Me neither, but IMDb says he did).
Although Dre is new to scripted television, though, he is not new to Apple. He sold his ‘Dre Beats’ home audio equipment line to Apple a few years back for an incredible $3 billion, and he has helped them with marketing and design ever since.
Second, Apple TV has never tried producing its own original content before. Technically, it has produced a few “making of” videos and other music-related shorts for sale on iTunes, says The Daily Mail, but original TV shows are a whole different ballgame.
According to Nasdaq, Apple TV’s new venture alongside Dr. Dre is an attempt to grab some business away from established video streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon, which is quite a war to be waging – Netflix already has over 75 million members while Amazon Prime has up to 80 million.
Paul Verna, an analyst at a marketing research firm working with Apple TV, elaborated on Apple’s desire to get into the original content production industry in an interview with The New York Times.
“Like so many Apple products, Apple TV wants to be a self-sufficient ecosystem. If a company has to look within to find entertainment industry talent, thanks to Apple Music and the company’s tremendous entertainment industry contacts, Apple is as well positioned as any company to do so.”
And for a first venture into scripted TV for both Dr. Dre and Apple TV, the project seems pretty intense, judging by the information released about the show so far.
It is not going to be a sitcom a la 50 Cent’s upcoming My Friend 50 TV show or a Dr. Dre-style version of MTV’s Cribs, the kind of lighter fare one might expect from a first-time TV actor and a first-time producer teaming up.
On the contrary, the Dr. Dre vehicle is going to be a dark, gritty, semi-autobiographical drama that sources promise will take advantage of the show’s off-network status by including a lot of graphic content.
“[It’s] a dark drama with no shortage of violence and sex,” writes The Hollywood Reporter, who was the first source to cover the story.
In fact, the report continues on to say that the show’s first episode is said to portray a massive orgy in Hollywood Hills, complete with nude extras. No word yet on whether Dre will be doing frontal, but if there’s one thing virtually guaranteed to attract viewers, it’s massive orgies. Well played, Apple.
As if this project weren’t exciting enough, it will be directed by someone known for helming music videos, Paul Hunter, who has overseen videos for huge names like Pharrell, Jennifer Lopez and Snoop Dogg. Because of his experience, Hunter may lend the show a primal, rhythmic vibe that you do not normally see in TV. It would be very interesting if Apple TV manages to fuse some of the musical energy now synonymous with the company with its Dr. Dre TV project to create a show that feels fresh.
The show will be entitled ‘Vital Signs’ and each of its six 30-minute episodes will focus on a different emotion Dr. Dre has dealt with in his life, a plot which would seem to lend itself well to the rhythmic, musical direction Hunter could take the show. All six episodes will be released at once, a source told The Hollywood Reporter, but it is still unknown exactly how the episodes will be distributed or when they will be made available.
One thing’s for sure: if Dr. Dre can help Apple to make a splash as big as the ones they have with many products over the last 15 years, this is going to be huge.
[Photo by Chris Pizzello/AP Images]