CNN Pans Brian Stelter-Produced Apple TV Show

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 28: Consulting Producer, Brian Stelter attends Apple's global premiere of "The Morning Show" at Josie Robertson Plaza and David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on October 28, 2019 in New York City. "The Morning Show" debuts November 1 on Apple TV+, available on the Apple TV app. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Apple TV )
October 29, 2019

Not even CNN has kind words for Apple TV+'s inaugural program, The Morning Show, which is based on a book by network host Brian Stelter.

Hollywood Reporter roundup of initial reactions to The Morning Show found that reviews were mixed to negative. Among the outlets panning the show was Stelter's own CNN. "'The Morning Show' sounds muted alarm for Apple TV+," wrote CNN's Brian Lowry Monday. "Most of its big ideas essentially rehash ground 'Network' covered more than 40 years ago."

The Reporter's own review declared the show was "struggling and floundering to find its focus, tone and attitude toward its main characters," and slammed the pilot episode as "brutally dull."

Lowry was sure to praise the elements of the show that stemmed from Stelter's book. "After [Stelter's input], though, showrunner Kerry Ehrin ('Bates Motel'), producer-director Mimi Leder and their team are clearly content to use that foundation merely as a jumping-off point to the drama, which takes an improbable, unconvincing turn in the second episode as a strained means to a storytelling end," he said.

Lowry also thought that the show's "star power in some respects works against it," judging that Steve Carell's abuser character was too likable, Reese Witherspoon's character "radiates a little too much movie-star vibe," and Billy Crudup's network executive character was "cliched."

"'The Morning Show' isn't bad, just generally unimpressive," he continued, "all the more so given the talent involved and the imperative for these new streaming services (up next: Disney+) to make a good impression right out of the box."

"To the extent 'The Morning Show' is Apple's way of sounding the alarm for its new service, feel safe to hit the 'snooze' button," he concluded.

Produced at a whopping $15 million an episode, The Morning Show was intended to be a major launching point for Apple's new streaming service. Inspired by Stelter's book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, the show stars Carell, Witherspoon, and Jennifer Aniston as reporters and hosts on a network morning show that goes through a Matt Lauer-esque sexual harassment scandal. Stelter serves as consulting producer for the show, and promoted its premiere on his Twitter feed.