Netflix is said to be in advanced negotiations with former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle to produce a series of high-profile shows for the streaming service, with Apple said to be waiting in line if a deal between the two parties falls through.
The New York Times reports that Netflix is offering to pay the Obamas to produce the exclusive content, according to people familiar with the discussions, although it’s unclear how much is on the table given the couple’s lack of experience in the media business.
However, rather than use the shows to respond to President Trump or conservative critics, Obama is reportedly interested in treating them as a platform for topics that dominated his presidency, such as health care, voting rights, immigration, foreign policy, and climate change.
Another program could feature Mrs. Obama on topics, like nutrition, that she championed in the White House. The former president and first lady could also lend their brand — and their endorsement — to documentaries or fictional programming on Netflix that align with their beliefs and values.
Several people familiar with the Netflix discussions said that executives from Apple and Amazon, which have their own streaming services, have also expressed interest in talking with Mr. Obama about content deals.
The New York Times notes that Obama retains close ties to Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer. Sarandos is married to Nicole A. Avant, an activist who served as Obama’s ambassador to the Bahamas. Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix, was also close to Obama while he was president and an attendee at state dinners, according to the report.
Apple has been comparatively slow at securing original content for its television offering, but the company now has at least 10 television shows in the early stages of development, including an untitled morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon and an “Amazing Stories” reboot from Steven Spielberg.
Other shows on the tech giant’s books include an untitled space drama from Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore, a series written by “La La Land” creator Damien Chazelle, a Kristen Wiig comedy series, See, an epic world-building drama, Home, a docuseries focusing on incredible homes, and “Little America,” an anthology series from “The Big Sick” creators Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.
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