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Apple’s Billion-Dollar Bet on Hollywood Is the Opposite of Edgy

A conservative corporation takes its first steps into a new industry.
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Illustration: Martin Groch
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Days before Apple Inc. planned to celebrate the release of its first TV show last spring at a Hollywood hotel, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook told his deputies the fun had to wait. Foul language and references to vaginal hygiene had to be cut from some episodes of Carpool Karaoke, a show featuring celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Blake Shelton, and Chelsea Handler cracking jokes while driving around Los Angeles.

While the delay of Carpool Karaoke was widely reported last April, the reasons never were. Edits were made, additional episodes were shot, and Apple shifted resources to another show. When Carpool Karaoke was released in August, it didn’t make much of a splash. The early stumbles highlight the challenges ahead as Apple mounts an ambitious foray into showbiz. The company plans to spend $1 billion on TV shows over the next year and has hired a team that’s already bidding for projects against the biggest media companies in the world.