The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

Apple kills show based on Gawker exploits

Apple's chief executive Tim Cook put the brakes on a series focused on Gawker's exploits. The two companies have a strenuous history.

Apple's chief executive Tim Cook put the brakes on a series focused on Gawker's exploits. The two companies have a strenuous history.

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook appears at an event hosted by Austin Community College in August 2017. (Photo courtesy Austin Community College)

Apple’s top executive Tim Cook intervened in a television show project that was based in part on the rise of Gawker Media, effectively killing the show’s prospect of being distributed on Apple’s fledgling streaming service Apple TV Plus, according to a report published on Sunday.

The New York Times said Apple had initially signed on to the project, known as “Scraper,” when it entered into an agreement to produce the show for Apple TV Plus. The show was based on the rise and exploits of Gawker Media, a gossip blog that rankled establishment figures and the companies where they worked, though it wasn’t clear from the Times’ story if the show was scripted or a documentary series.

The development of the show was not entirely a secret — those who cover the media and entertainment industries have known about it for a while — and it appeared to signal a willingness between Apple and Gawker to put the past behind them: During its existence, Gawker and its subsidiary blogs antagonized Apple by leaking its products (most infamously, a prototype Apple iPhone 4) and publicly outing Cook as a gay man.

At least, things appeared to be forgiven until Cook learned that Apple was developing the show. He sent an email to an unnamed executive expressing surprise that the tech firm was developing a show about or based on Gawker, the Times said, and the company effectively killed the project.

Scraper is now back on the market, looking for another buyer who is willing to pick up where Apple left off, the Times said. It is not immediately clear if anyone has decided to pick up the series.

Gawker Media suspended its operations in August 2016 after being sued out of existence following the publication of a sex tape involving a celebrity wrestler. Its assets were purchased by the owner of the website Bustle two years later for around $1.5 million.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).