Steve Carell is returning to television. The Office star has reportedly been cast as the male lead in Apple's as-yet untitled drama about a morning news TV show, alongside Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. He will play a news anchor named Mitch Kessler, who is “struggling to maintain relevance in a changing media landscape”. Filming is set to begin next week in Los Angeles on the show, which will offer “an inside look at the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning, exploring the unique challenges faced by the women (and men) who carry out this daily televised ritual”.
Since leaving the US version of The Office in 2011, Carell has stayed away from main cast TV roles in lieu of his continued feature film work. He has pushed slowly into dramatic roles, including a millionaire and convicted murderer in 2014's Foxcatcher that got him an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination, and a banker in 2015's The Big Short about the 2007-08 financial crisis that also got him a Golden Globe nod.
In 2017, Carell played tennis star Bobby Riggs opposite Emma Stone's Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes, followed by the role of a Vietnam War veteran who loses his only son in the Iraq War in Richard Linklater-directed Last Flag Flying. His upcoming roles include the father of a son who struggles with drug addiction in Beautiful Boy, and former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Vice, which reunites him with The Big Short director Adam McKay.
Given the venture away from comedy, it makes sense that his return to TV since The Office is in drama. The Apple series is based on an original idea from Michael Ellenberg and draws from CNN correspondent Brian Stelter's 2013 book “Top of the Morning,” which detailed the rivalry between NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America. Kerry Ehrin (Bates Motel) is the showrunner and Mimi Leder (Deep Impact) set as director.
Aniston, Witherspoon, Ellenberg for Media Res, Ehrin, and Leder all executive produce alongside Echo Films' Kristin Han, and Hello Sunshine's Lauren Levy Neustadter. Stelter is a consultant on the Apple project, which was greenlit with a 20-episode two-season order in November last year.