Critics free to criticize, say 'Morning Show' makers, stars

Full Screen
1 / 3

2020 Invision

Reese Witherspoon speaks at "The Morning Show," panel during the Apple+ TCA 2020 Winter Press Tour at the Langham Huntington, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

PASADENA, Calif. – When critics and subjects of their criticism meet there can be tense moments — especially when a new streaming service’s high-profile project, “The Morning Show,” is at issue.

That was the case when Mimi Leder, executive producer of the Apple TV Plus series, was queried about her comment last November that “Apple haters” were responsible for some of the show’s negative reviews.

“Looking out at this sea of MacBooks, do you still think we’re a bunch of Apple haters who want to see Apple fail?” a member of the Television Critics Association said to Leder during a Q&A promotional panel Sunday that included stars Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Billy Crudup.

“No, I don’t,” replied Leder, a veteran, Emmy-winning director whose credits include “The Leftovers" and ” “ER.”

“I think we were a new show, I think people didn’t know what to expect," Leder said. "There were a lot of expectations on the show, and I’m really glad and happy that people have responded to the show so powerfully, and kind of with great vigor.”

When Leder, whose initial remarks about reviewers came during a media conference in Los Angeles, was asked by another critic about them, Witherspoon spoke up. She and Aniston also are executive producers on the series, which follows the upheaval at a network morning show after an anchor, played by Steve Carell, is fired for alleged sexual misconduct.

We make projects and then “it is up to you guys, you have to decide how you feel about it. That’s how it works,” Witherspoon said. “I have no problem hearing very real opinions about material. ... I welcome the criticism.”

“Especially constructive criticism,” said Aniston, calling character attacks “not constructive.” It was unclear if she meant in general or was referring to any specific reviews.

While the show's reviews were mixed, especially for the early episodes, it and its cast have earned awards season recognition. Aniston and Witherspoon received Golden Globe nominations for the awards held earlier this month, with a best drama nod for the series. Aniston, Carell and Crudup got Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations.

The drama is returning for a second season.

“The Morning Show” was in the vanguard for Apple TV Plus’ debut last November, when it entered the so-called streaming wars that include other new services, such as Disney Plus, jockeying for a slice of the digital sector that’s an increasingly dominant part of the media landscape. The competition includes established services Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.