Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon excited to be on AppleTV+ ground floor

By Matthew Worley
Jennifer Aniston (L) and Reese Witherspoon. Photo by Peter Foley/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Apple is launching its new streaming service AppleTV+ on Wednesday with flagship series The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell.

Based on the 2013 book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, by former New York Times reporter Brian Stelter, Morning Show stars Aniston as Alex Levy, anchor of a popular morning news program.


After her longtime on-air partner (Carrell) is fired for sexual misconduct, Levy must fight to hold her own job amid competition from an up-and-coming journalist (Witherspoon) as the network looks to start fresh with new faces.

"Brian Stelter's book was just incredible," Witherspoon said Friday, speaking at an Apple-hosted brunch in Beverly Hills. "It pulled back the curtain on female salaries, pay inequity and the way women were rated by focus groups -- even though the men weren't -- and about how you aged as a woman. When you were 40 years old, you were basically put out to pasture."


The reality stands in contrast to Aniston, 50, and Witherspoon, 43, who, in addition to their starring roles in Morning Show, also share executive producer credits on the series.

"We've been doing this for a long time," Aniston said, addressing the industry-only crowd. "To be two women, at the ground level of this new streaming service, building this experience together -- we feel pretty excited."

A beloved fixture on the TV landscape -- beginning with her 1994 breakout role in Friends -- Aniston's long history with the medium does much to enhance her new role in The Morning Show.

"It's really about a woman who's been doing this for years and years. She's very well known," Aniston said. "But it's reaching the point where she's starting to lose relevance. She's also getting a bit lazy at that stage of her career, and I think she has to emerge from all that once this crisis happens. It's a big wake-up call for her."

In preparing for the role, Aniston said she spent a 14-hour day on the set of ABC's Good Morning America, shadowing the participants as they put together the daily broadcast.

"Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos were incredible," she said. "They were all so gracious and allowed me to watch this world from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m."


Aniston said the world of news anchors is fascinating.

"These are people who wake you up every single morning and give you the news and provide clarity and context," she said. "They serve as these voices of stability. Yet, their own personal lives may be falling apart. Whatever real-life issues are taking place, they still have to show up and be those faces of comfort."

While The Morning Show focuses heavily on the rivalry between Aniston's character and Witherspoon's character, Bradley Jackson, a large portion of screen time is devoted to Carell, who stars as disgraced anchor Mitch Kessler.

"One of the great things about Steve's character is that you get to see his inner life," Witherspoon said. "It's not just about us saying he did this thing and he goes away. We actually get to go to his house and see the impact it has on his wife, and see what happens with his kids and his friends."

When questioned about the obvious #MeToo elements of the plot, Aniston noted that the series was in development well in advance of the current cultural movement.

"The show actually existed before Matt Lauer and #MeToo," Aniston told UPI, speaking of the longtime Today anchor who was ousted by NBC in 2017 following allegations of sexual misconduct.


Lauer was among several high-profile media figures to be unseated in 2017 in the wake of sexual scandals. CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, actor Kevin Spacey and Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein were among other notable men whose careers were ended as a result of sexual harassment charges.

"So there really is a lot that's happening in the series," Aniston said. "So much is just changing right now.

"Then, once everything happened -- Harvey Weinstein and all the other things, the whole world changed. Our show's part of that.

"It sort of evolved very naturally."

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