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Apple at Press Tour: ‘Palm Royale,’ ‘Franklin’ and … ‘The Simpsons’ (Yes, Really)

Stars including Michael Douglas, Carol Burnett, Maya Rudolph and many others made their way through monsoon-like weather Monday to the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, Calif., for the first day of the winter portion of the semi-annual Television Critics Association’s press tour as Apple showcased new and returning shows Loot, The New Look, Palm Royale, Franklin and more.  

The iPhone maker opened the day with a preview of its 2024 slate, which features rookie series including Manhunt, Sugar, Presumed Innocent and returning programs The Reluctant Traveler With Eugene Levy, Acapulco and Loot.

Here are highlights from Apple’s time before the press corps at TCA:

Premiere dates

Historical fashion drama The New Look, from Todd A. Kessler and starring Ben Mendelsohn and Juliette Binoche as Christian Dior and Coco Chanel, respectively, bows Feb. 14. The 10-part docuseries The Dynasty: The New England Patriots launches Feb. 16. Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin also debuts Feb. 16. Constellation, the thriller with Noomi Rapace and Jonathan Banks makes its premiere Feb. 21. Messi’s World Cup: The Rise of a Legend launches its four-part run Feb. 21. On March 1, the six-episode adventure comedy The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin will debut, with season 2 of Eugene Levy’s Reluctant Traveler coming March 8. Manhunt, the seven-part drama about the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, arrives March 15.

One of Apple’s most anticipated new shows, comedy Palm Royale starring Kristen Wiig, Laura Dern and Carol Burnett, launches March 20. Fraggle Rock season 2 comes March 29. The second season of Rudolph’s Loot lands April 3. Colin Farrell vehicle Sugar launches April 5. Douglas’ turn as Benjamin Franklin in Franklin arrives April 12. Season 2 of The Big Door Prize will debut April 24, with Acapulco season 3 coming May 1. Dark Matter, the sci-fi thriller starring Joel Edgerton, premieres May 8. Season 4 of Trying will debut May 22. Rookie drama Presumed Innocent, from exec producers David E. Kelley and J.J. Abrams starring Jake Gyllenhaal, will launch June 14. Eva Longoria dramedy Land of Women arrives at a date to be determined in the summer. Here’s the sizzle reel:

Loot

“I can’t believe everybody’s here!” Rudolph proclaimed when she joined her cast and creatives on stage after she was delayed because her glam team got stuck in traffic amid L.A.’s historic downpour. Her co-star, Ron Funches, was a no-show though it’s unclear if it was weather-related. Asked what separates Loot from other shows that revolve around the wealthy, co-star Joel Kim Booster came prepared with a killer response: “We’re the only show that explicitly says billionaires should not exist,” he said. Added creator/showrunner Alan Yang of the irony of airing on a platform operated by one of the biggest companies on the planet: “They let us do it!” Yang confessed that working on a show about the super wealthy made him consider the housing crisis in L.A. as the comedy shoots in a lot of mansions — many of them, he said, empty. Season 2 is about the challenge of getting rid of all of Molly’s billions of dollars, exec producer and fellow showrunner Matt Hubbard said, noting that he studies the world of billionaires for potential storylines with one season 2 episode also exploring going to space.

“The world keeps writing the show itself,” Yang added. “We see these ridiculous things that are really being done. Our show is not reality, obviously, it’s very light, warm and familial, but it also takes some news as jumping off points with some satirical elements. We try to take those news stories and put our spin on it.”

“Loot” season 2 Apple TV+

The New Look

The period fashion drama, which also stars Maisie Williams as Catherine Dior and hails from creator Todd A. Kessler (Bloodline, Damages), starts in 1955 and re-creates Dior dresses of the era. The production re-created more than a dozen designs of the dresses that Dior showcased in his first fashion show, producers said. Kessler credited fellow exec producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura with the scope of the Paris-set The New Look.

“How do we make this as cinematic as possible so that we live up to Paris?” the veteran producer said. Kessler also noted that the series will portray “different parts of the trauma of the occupation of World War II and the choices people made during that time and after that time.” Kessler said he came across the story in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of Dior launching his fashion house. He said he spent seven years researching for what became The New Look. “If one watches this show, those brand names all the sudden become personified,” he said. “You’ll see them as people and if you’re inspired, read more about them because there’s so much more information about their lives than we were able to fit in this first season.”

Ben Mendelsohn in “The New Look” Apple TV+

Palm Royale

Leading lady Wiig, who also exec produces, was sick and not able to make it to TCA for the panel, which opened with the premiere of the official trailer for the comedy about high society. (Watch it, below.) Co-star and EP Laura Dern read an amusing statement from Wiig revealing that the SNL grad was out with COVID. As for the series itself, showrunner Abe Sylvia said he developed Palm Royale during the pandemic and wanted to “build a world people would want to visit” as the hour-long series toes the line between drama and comedy that Wiig balances so well.

“We were all safe and sheltered during COVID. This feeling of safety and luxury in America and setting it in 1969 when the world was on fire — but not in Palm Beach — was an exciting place to start from,” he noted. Sylvia, whose credits include Dead to Me and Nurse Jackie, said he felt a bit of an “imposter syndrome” every time he saw who was joining the cast, which includes the legendary Carol Burnett, Wiig, Dern and Ricky Martin. Burnett said she didn’t have to read the script before signing on.

“All I had to do was hear who was going to be in it,” she said. “I just wanted to work with these people and have some fun. In the first few episodes, I’m in a coma and I still got paid! It was a slam dunk!” she deadpanned. “I hope there’s a second season because I don’t want to be out of work!”

Martin, who said he joined the show after bumping into Sylvia at an Oscars party, hopes the show will change the way you think about life in general. “It’s a comedy, a tear-jerker, thought-provoking and a very powerful show,” he said.  

Franklin

Michael Douglas stars as one of the founding fathers in the limited series based on Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff’s book A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America. The series marks the actor’s second time as Franklin after he voiced him in an episode of PBS’ 2003 series Freedom: A History of US.

“That was one of the major reasons I wanted to do this; I never did green screen before Marvel; comedy was fascinating to me and that’s why I did The Kominsky Method; and I’d never done period [drama] before in my 60-year career,” Douglas explained before quipping: “I wanted to see how I looked in tights! Thank god I didn’t have to wear a wig.”

Douglas agreed to do the limited series after reading one script and felt he was in good hands with the involvement of Richard Plepler, the former CEO of HBO, with whom he previously teamed on the cable network’s 2013 telepic Behind the Candelabra in which he starred as Liberace. Douglas, who leads the cast opposite Noah Jupe as Temple Franklin, compared Ben Franklin to Elon Musk in that they’re both larger than life characters and self-involved. Asked if he would return for a potential second season of Franklin, Douglas seemed firm. “I don’t think so,” he said of exploring Franklin’s last remaining years.  

Constellation

Noomi Rapace stars in the space drama about an astronaut who returns to Earth after a disaster — only to discover that key pieces of her life seem to be missing. Creator Peter Harness said the series started with being desperate to find out what happens to people when they come back from space and the “huge effect” it has on them. “That’s a sci-fi show but it has spooky elements in it and that leads to a conspiracy about things being covered up,” he said, adding that at its heart, it’s about a mother trying to find her daughter and vice versa.

On the future of Constellation, Harness said the concept of the show is ripe for many stories. “There’s a bigger story to tell about space and the history of this. These guys have a long way to go; they’ve only just landed back on Earth,” he said.

Manhunt
The drama from showrunner Monica Beletsky (Fargo, The Leftovers, Parenthood) that revolves around the hunt for John Wilkes Booth (Anthony Boyle) in the wake of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (Hamish Linklater) debuted its trailer at TCA. (Watch it, below.) Boyle drew laughs from the otherwise stoic press corps when he confessed that the first time he heard of Booth was from an episode of The Simpsons.

To prepare for the role, Boyle got his hands on Booth’s letters, which depicted more of who he was than any of the many books written about him. “Booth is an asshole but he thinks he’s a hero,” he said, recalling letters that evolved to an alt-right ideology.

Beletsky, who said she spent years researching the story, noted that Linklater remains on screen following Lincoln’s assassination via flashbacks that are used to tell the story from a psychological point of view. “When we had our first conversations, I’d like this Lincoln to be seen not as an icon but as someone’s father, husband, colleague, boss,” Beletsky said of Manhunt’s portrayal of Lincoln. “We were going for a really domestic version of him.” Added Linklater: “Monica has turned this moment into such a nail-biting focal point of our history. She’s made a thriller about the 14th amendment. That’s a pretty high degree of difficulty.”

The Land of Women

Eva Longoria’s dramedy was shot in both English and Spanish and will be available to stream in both languages when it launches at a date to be determined in the summer. Longoria stars as a woman whose husband, following a financial crisis, flees with her mother and college-age daughter to a wine town in Spain where her mother fled 50 years prior and vowed to never return. “She will not be saved by a man, that’s not the solution to her problem,” Longoria said when asked how her character here, Gala, compares with Gaby from ABC’s beloved Desperate Housewives.

Longoria, who said met creator Ramon Campos while working on ABC’s one and done series Grand Hotel, noted she used Desperate Housewives as her “film school” so she’d be able to tell stories that reflect her community. Her role in Women, she said, s the first time she’s shot in Spanish and filmed in Spain. “This show is so blue skies escapism,” Longoria said. “We’ve had a wave of dystopian shows, I’m so depressed! When you watch this show, [you’ll think] ‘I wanna go to Spain and drink wine!’ If I can just inspire to do that, then we’ve done our job.”

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