Apple’s push into Hollywood is off to a rough start — thanks in part to “intrusive” tech executives, including Tim Cook, The Post has learned.
Shortly after Apple announced its Hollywood ambitions in 2017, Tinseltown’s wheeler-dealers were lining up to work with the iPhone maker. But as the company’s streaming project gets ready for launch, agents and producers can’t stop griping about how “difficult” Apple is to deal with — citing a “lack of transparency,” “lack of clarity” and “intrusive” executives, including CEO Cook.
One of the biggest complaints involves the many “notes” from Apple executives seeking family-friendly shows, sources said.
“Tim Cook is giving notes and getting involved,” said a producer who has worked with Apple. One of the CEO’s most repeated notes is “don’t be so mean!,” the source said.
“He’s giving feedback,” an agent said of Cook, adding that the CEO has been seen on the Vancouver set for “See,” a futuristic drama about human kind without sight, and in LA for the production of a drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.
Apple executives in general have been “very involved,” this person said, adding that writers and directors prefer to work without corporate intrusions.
Apple’s nitpicking over content and technology has led to delays, sources said.
The streaming service is widely expected to be unveiled this month, but the final product won’t likely be available to consumers before the end of the year — and it will offer just a handful of the several dozen shows it has in the works, sources said.
“I think people are a little bit irritated because they keep moving the service launch,” one source said, adding that Apple has also vexed its video executives by requiring them to make frequent trips to the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters to approve tech changes, taking them away from their work in LA.
Another frustration is that Apple also keeps moving the target on what it wants, sources said.
“They are making big changes, firing and hiring new writers. There’s a lack of clarity on what they want,” the producer said. “A lot of the product is not as good as they hoped it to be,” he said.
Cook, 58, has been public about wanting family-friendly content, but insiders say the tech giant has also passed on storylines because they are about potentially controversial topics, like religion or the negative consequences of technology.
“They want a positive view of technology,” the producer noted.
Apple burst onto the crowded video streaming scene in June 2017 with news that it was building its own Netflix and had hired Sony heads Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg to run it.
The Sony execs, who were behind such shows as “Breaking Bad” and “The Goldbergs,” have lured many big names to work with Apple, including Witherspoon and Aniston, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Damien Chazelle, the director of “La La Land.”
But even Wall Street agrees that Apple’s entry into video-streaming service will likely pale in comparison to Netflix’s or Amazon’s.
“In the streaming and content arms race, they’ve been on the outside looking in,” said Dan Ives, an analyst from Wedbush Securities. “Even though they’ve had some deals, it’s been a rounding error. They’re spending $1 billion on content, while Netflix, Disney, Amazon are spending $20 billion a year.”
D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte called Apple’s content effort “more of a hobby than a serious effort,” but said he wouldn’t be surprised to see them dominate the space in future years. “For all we know, these are just beta tests. If they find something they really like, they might go full force into the effort.”
To be sure, some of Hollywoood’s gripes can be chalked up to the Hollywood-Silicon Valley culture clash that also plagued Amazon and Netflix when they first started, including the endless number of non-disclosure agreements Apple requires professionals to sign.
“That’s what Netflix was like in the beginning,” one Hollywood insider said of Apple’s stifling secretiveness. “NDA culture is huge in Silicon Valley, huge in Palo Alto.”
Apple did not comment.
This story originally appeared in the New York Post.