A TV series about the defunct news/gossip blog Gawker was killed by Apple TV+ after Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook found out it was being developed, the New York Times reported Sunday.
The series, called “Scraper,” was sold to Apple
by two Gawker veterans, and two additional Gawker editors had been hired as writers, the Times said, completing several episodes.
But development of the show took Cook by surprise, the Times reported, and he expressed his disapproval of Gawker in an internal email. The plug was quickly pulled on the project, which is now searching for a new production partner.
Gawker had a decidedly adversarial relationship with Apple: Its sister site, Gizmodo, wrote in 2010 about an iPhone 4 prototype it acquired when it was left at a bar, months ahead of its public release — sparking a police raid on an editor’s house — and Gawker outed Cook as gay in 2011.
For years, Gawker reveled in poking the powerful, until meeting its demise in 2016, after a lawsuit backed by tech mogul Peter Thiel bankrupted it.
The Times noted that the “Scraper” incident shows the fine line that creators must toe now that one of the world’s richest companies is now a media gatekeeper, sacrificing creative freedom for practical, corporate-friendly considerations. Aside from crossing Cook, the report said creators have been told not to antagonize China, have gratuitous nudity or violence, or, in one case, crucifixes.
Apple TV+ has only a handful of shows with an MA (mature audience) rating, mostly for language.
The Times said the reason is simple: Apple does not want to damage its massively popular brand with anything controversial.