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A show about Gawker proved too hot for Apple to handle

Apple has killed an upcoming Apple TV Plus show about Gawker, a now-defunct news organization, according to a report by the New York Times. The show, called Scraper, is one to add to the list of stories about Apple killing projects that touch things that are too sensitive or edgy for the company.

When Tim Cook found out that Apple was working on the show, he reportedly sent an email saying that he was surprised to hear about it. He also mentioned he disliked Gawker. Although Apple has decided to kill the project, the show is back on the market, where another distributor could buy and finance it.

This isn’t the first time Apple executives have stepped in to steer their TV service away from controversy. In 2018 Apple reportedly killed a movie about Dr. Dre for having gratuitous violence and sex, and Apple executive Eddy Cue has reportedly said that the service will never do two things: “hardcore nudity and China”. Apple directed show-runners to avoid portraying China in a negative light, Buzzfeed has reported.

The executive who bought the show, Layne Eskridge, is leaving the company.

Gawker was inherently controversial — as Tim Cook personally knew. Gawker outed him as gay in 2008. The Gawker Media Group included several blogs; in 2010, one of them, Gizmodo, found and leaked the iPhone 4 before it was launched. (Later, the reporter’s home was raided by police.)

Gawker is appealing as a show precisely because the blog has such a mixed legacy. It was one of the media outlets that revived interest in Bill Cosby, who was later convicted of aggravated indecent assault. It also reported on rumored misconduct by Louis CK and Harvey Weinstein.

Gawker alums Max Read and Cord Jefferson are attached to the show. Jefferson has also written for Watchmen, The Good Place, and Master of None.

Gawker, it seems, was born to bring controversy to everything it touched — even four years after its death.