Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent a message to Hollywood: We don’t want gratuitous sex or violence on our streaming service, CNBC.com reports.
This news comes in the wake of Apple spiking Vital Signs, its first scripted original program, because of concerns regarding depictions of sex, violence, and drug use in the script. The show is a semi-autobiographical account of the life of hip-hop mogul Dr. Dre.
Cook also replaced the showrunner on a drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, partly due to concerns about the type of humor in the show’s script.
In a report in the Wall Street Journal, staff at Apple have started derisively referring to the “clean” streaming service as “expensive NBC.”
Apple’s concern is apparently that backlash over content deemed profane or gratuitously violent could blow back on their consumer products sales.
According to the Journal, Cook told Apple Music executives that the Dr. Dre show is “too violent” and that “Apple can’t show this.”
The Journal also reports that Cook has taken a very hands-on approach to the selection of content to appear on the service, with executives having to expend considerable time getting the green light for projects from Cook and Senior Vice President Eddy Cue. The executives in charge of the streaming project are Breaking Bad alums Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht
Along with dropping the Dr. Dre show and retooling the Aniston/Witherspoon series, Cook also replaced the showrunners on Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, as again, he felt the show was too dark. They also dropped a planned Me Too-themed show from comedian and writer Whitney Cummings.
Apple outbid rivals for the Aniston/Witherspoon show for up to $12 million per episode. They’ve also won the rights to a new M. Night Shyamalan show, though they’ve also requested changes be made to that show.
“Before saying yes to that psychological thriller,” writes the Journal about the Shyamalan show, “Apple executives had a request: Please eliminate the crucifixes in the couple’s house, said people working on the project. They said executives made clear they didn’t want shows that venture into religious subjects or politics. Mr. Shyamalan wasn’t available for comment.”
Among the more family-friendly shows that the upcoming Apple streaming service is producing is a show with the creators of Sesame Street, a show with Oprah Winfrey, a Friday Night Lights-style show about Kevin Durant’s life, and a show about Emily Dickinson.