Jonathan Reed

Jonathan Reed

15 posts on Screen Times since March 2019

Jonathan is the Contributing Editor at Screen Times, contributing reviews, news and much more. Jonathan is also the editor of Twitter: @aylwardreed Email:

Twitter: @sigjudge
Jonathan Reed

Apple TV+ Development Round-up 23rd Nov

Apple TV+ has a lot of shows and movies in development, with new announcements coming quite regularly.

Here’s all the news from the last week:

Awkwafina is joining Glenn Close, Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris in the Apple TV+ Original Film. The ‘genre-bending’ movie will be written and directed by Benjamin Cleary.

Steve Lightfoot (The Punisher, Hannibal) is taking over show running duties on the Apple TV+ series ‘Shantaram’. The series was previously delayed after being acquired by Apple back in 2018. It’s set to star Charlie Hunnam.

Apple has acquired the rights for a film based on the creation of the iconic game ‘Tetris’. Produced by Matthew Vaughn’s ‘Marv’ production company, it’s set to star Taron Edgerton (Rocketman) and begin filming in December.

Jonathan Reed

Apple Reveals Premiere Date for ‘Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special’, Exclusive Apple Music Soundtrack

Apple has today announced a premiere date for the exclusive ‘Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special’ as well as further details on the show.

Premiering December 4th on Apple TV+, the ‘star studded’ special features Tiffany Haddish, Billy Eichner, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Snoop Dogg, Jermaine Dupri, Misty Copeland and Mykal-Michelle Harris.

Per Apple:

'Faced with a holiday cheer crisis, the North Pole knows there's only one person who can save the day: Santa’s great friend, Mariah Carey. Combining musical performances, dynamic dancing and groundbreaking animation, the undisputed Queen of Christmas jumps into action to create a holiday spectacular to make the whole world merry.’

The soundtrack, featuring Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson, will be available exclusively on Apple Music from December 4th before appearing on other platforms a week later. Carey will also be interviewed by Zane Lowe on December 7th before appearing on Apple Music Hits for a six hour special Christmas hits run down.

Jonathan Reed

Apple TV+ Casting Round-Up

Apple TV+ has a lot of shows in development with new announcements coming quite regularly.

Last week was a busy week so here’s a round-up of all the exciting news from future Apple TV+ hits:

The new murder mystery comedy from Phil Lord & Christopher Miller ‘The Afterparty’ has filled out it’s cast with an impressive list of stars: Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Ben Schwartz, Ike Barinholtz, Ilana Glazer, Dave Franco, Jamie Demetriou, and John Early. The AV Club has a good rundown of their roles.

Deadline has announced that comedian Hasan Minhaj has been cast as new member of The Morning Show team on well, ‘The Morning Show’.

Katherine Hahn and Casey Wilson have been cast as Phyllis Markowitz and Bonnie Herschkopf, respectfully in the dark comedy ‘The Shrink Next Door’. They join main stars Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd.

‘Truth Be Told’ has added a long list of actors to it’s season 2 cast alongside recent casting Julia Stiles. Deadline has the character breakdown.

Some excellent casting announcements there and we’ll round up any more in the coming weeks.

Jonathan Reed

Is Apple TV+ Starting to Find It’s Voice →

November 1st marks the first anniversary of Apple TV+, the video streaming service initially announced by Apple on March 25th 2019, before launching to around 100 countries over seven months later.
So, is TV+ just another streaming service? What should it be known for? How has it evolved so far?

One year on, what actually IS Apple TV+?

Apple TV+ launched to a lot of fanfare only days before Disney launched its streaming service, Disney+. Disney launched with their massive back catalogue. They also had a few new originals, but they were all very low-key, except for The Mandalorian. Disney’s approach was simple; throw an absolutely massive amount of content online, charge a low price and get lots of subscribers.

HBO also launched their service, HBO Max, this year. It was a strange service that confused a lot of people by being both HBO the channel and also not. They had the advantage of an incredible, high-quality back catalogue but at $15.99 and only being available in America, their reach was limited.

The other big players, of course, are Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Netflix releases many new titles every week with an extensive back catalogue. Hulu has a substantial collection of TV catchup and originals but is, like HBO, restricted to America. Amazon isn’t that far behind, but their Prime TV service has never been anything more than something to get people onto the shopping site. Not that it doesn’t have some great content.

Then there’s Apple.

In the March 2019 announcement, Apple called TV+ ‘the new home for the world’s most creative storytellers’ and ‘unlike anything that has ever been done before’ and don’t forget ‘not just another streaming service’. They brought massive stars Jennifer Aniston, JJ Abrams, Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg and yes, Oprah, on stage to talk about their new projects. The $4.99 fee to share across up to five ‘family’ members, with a free year for anyone buying a new Apple device, seemed pretty reasonable.

A false start?

Then came the launch, and the reviews. The Morning Show got very mixed reviews. For All Mankind generally got ok if not overly enthusiastic coverage. People seemed to really like Dickenson though again, not excitedly. The same with Servant. See was believed to be an absolute turkey.

This wasn’t the way you wanted to launch your multi-billion dollar ‘groundbreaking’ service.

Other content - Helpsters, Ghost Writer, Snoopy, movies The Elephant Queen and Hala - all generally got positive, though few, reviews

When you launch something like this you want a huge flagship property to reel people in, Disney+ had The Madalorian for example. TV+ seemed to be pitching The Morning Show as that property, but due to the early, mediocre reviews, it never got much traction. Did you hear many people talking about the actual plot week to week?

So the build-up to Apple TV+ - over two years - felt like a slight anti-climax. A lot of people (mainly due to the one-year free trial) were trying it out, but it seemed Apple, a company known for disrupting almost every market they went into, had come up a bit short. It was met with a bit of a shrug by the public at large.

However, as the months have gone by, and more content has come out, that picture has started to change.

Continue reading on small bites >>>

Jonathan Reed

Apple Posts First Trailer for Upcoming TV+ Docuseries 'Becoming You'

Apple has shared the first trailer for the docuseries 'Becoming You' on it's Apple TV YouTube channel. The series follows over 100 children from all corners of the globe and shows how the first 2000 days of our lives shape us. The series premieres November 13th on Apple TV+.

Per the description on YouTube:

2,000 days. 100 children. The story of us. Peek into the first days of life in Becoming You, a globe-crossing, six-part docuseries narrated by Academy Award winner Olivia Colman.
Jonathan Reed

Bruce Ruminates on Grief, Loss and Life in the ‘Extended Album’ Film ‘Letter To You’ (Apple TV+ Review)

A heavy-headed Bruce Springsteen opens ‘Letter to You’, the new documentary film on Apple TV+, with an ode to his long, almost half a century ‘conversation’ with his bandmates and us, the fans. He talks of his need to communicate and that he doesn’t why.

It’s a very sombre and reflective way to open a film about possibly the greatest rock star of all time. Still, it sets the tone for a film that’s deep in emotion, memories, grief and also, celebration and gratefulness.

It should be said that I’m a Springsteen fan. I own several of his LPs on vinyl. More than any other artist, save my all-time favourites, Eels. This is also important in judging my enjoyment of the film. If you’re not a fan of the man, then this isn’t going to be your sort of film.

It should also be said that this is very much an accompanying film to his latest LP, Letter to You. To be fair, that’s the title of the film AND the album so we maybe shouldn’t expect more, and for the most part, what the film does is add more depth and weight to what is already a defining album.

What comes across the most is Bruce’s gratefulness. Grateful for the career he’s had, the people he’s met and most of all the band he’s been able to play with all these years, The E Street Band.

This is the first album where The E Street Band and Bruce have all been together playing in the studio simultaneously since ‘Born To Run’, 25 years ago. So what we really get is like a concert album. We hear all the tracks and see the band playing together as one. As a fan, it’s a fantastic experience.

In between the tracks, Bruce talks about his career growing up, from his start in The Castiles to early albums and phone calls from Bob Dylan. Again, very reflective.

Whether the film is a success depends on what you’re expecting and what you want. If you’re expecting a film that’s going to celebrate the history of Bruce and the E Street Band without going into too much depth, then you’ll be pleased. If you want a profound look into who Bruce is as a person and the troubles and successes along the way, you’ll be a bit disappointed.

However, I don’t think that’s a criticism. It doesn’t try to be anything else than a nostalgic reminisce and celebration of who Bruce and the band are. That being said, Bruce’s introductions to some of the songs add real weight to their meaning (pro-tip: turn on subs during the songs). As a band that’s still hurting from the enormous losses of Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons, the performance of the song ‘See You in my Dreams’ is particularly heartbreaking. Only adding to that is the sight of producer Jon Landau visibly breaking down while listening back to it.

These people have come a long way and been through a lot.

Closing out the film (over more beautiful shots of snowy New Jersey), Bruce considers how fragile and finite life is and how we only have so much left; how lucky we are to be alive and be able to do what we can do. Bruce Springsteen is someone who has represented the average American throughout his entire career. He’s someone who has sung about the hardships and triumphs of ordinary life: finding a paycheck, finding love, losing love, watching your community struggle around you and the triumphs when people succeed. Even in a film which is essentially an extended version of an album it carries weight. It’s emotional, celebratory, reflective, and most of all, grateful. Oh, and it has some great music.