The Morning Show(image credits: google)

“The Morning Show” director Mimi Leder discussed how Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston’s series reflects the world of journalism in the post-pandemic era.

The Morning Show director Mimi Leder on tech billionaires owning media giants

“The Morning Show” is back, and it couldn’t be more exciting. The workplace drama, based on a legacy media company in New York, mirrors several events that have shaken the world post-pandemic, such as tech billionaires acting as saviors of crumbling estates, the lag in women’s empowerment by several years, the battle between truth and falsehood, the January 6th U.S. Capitol attack, and the conflict in Ukraine.

In an interview, director Mimi Leder talked about incorporating these elements into the lives of the characters, how they’ve come closer to reshaping the show’s essence and experience, and how the new season inspires everyone to confront truth at both macro and micro levels. She mentioned:

“The Morning Show” has always been very vibrant and has stayed relevant throughout. From Me Too to COVID, it has always reflected the immediate times. So, does your writer’s room function like a newsroom too? (Laughing) Our writers work in their own space and present the subjects they want to explore. We’ve carried forward elements from Season 1 and 2. Season 1 was about the Me Too movement. We moved away from Mitch’s (Steve Carell) story, although Mitch’s ghost still lingers in the building. The second season was about the pandemic, but now people are emerging from it.

The Morning Show
The Morning Show (image credits: google)

In this season, we wanted to explore women’s empowerment, minority leadership, and the influence of external players. During the pandemic and after, a new billionaire emerges every 24 hours. Many people have benefited from this world. We wanted to address women’s agencies, reproductive rights, the danger journalists face worldwide. This season, what was most important was the quest for truth – in journalism but also within ourselves. We lie to ourselves all day.

The characters created by writers are character-driven. Where do you see Alex’s character going? What do we want to see her do this season? We wanted her to seek her voice and take steps towards changing the dynamics of the show. How do we do that? So, we bring in a tech billionaire who threatens the future of UBA. He’s here to save it, but will he destroy it? All these stories that come up are centered around our characters and their stories.

Speaking of the tech billionaire, he could easily be trapped in the web of Elon Musk. But John is such a fantastic actor that he makes Paul Marks his own character. How does this character affect the conversation in The Morning Show Season 3?

He’s a very strong character, and John is a terrific actor, and he’s very tall and handsome (laughs). He comes in as a tech billionaire and forces all the characters to look at themselves and UBA in a new light. He comes in as a disruptor who challenges everyone to face the truth, both in journalism and in themselves. He’s a whirlwind who saves us. Money is the answer to everything. Then the story progresses, and we see if the billionaire is here to disrupt. (Laughs) Is everything about money, about power? We are a topical show. We are about journalism and telling the truth.

Contrary to the chaos behind the scenes, when the characters are on-air, watching “The Morning Show” is effortless and relatable. How did you elevate the chaos in this season?

I wanted to create chaos and put our characters in the dark. Something we haven’t seen on the show before. They’ve been hacked, they’re on air, the lights are out. When I set the tone for the pilot, what was their look on the camera? It was very bright, everything is welcoming. But when we go into their personal lives, everything is messy and complicated. There’s conflict. So, this episode was about playing in darkness, in light, in fear. I was completely prepared for it. It was very choreographed, finding those important moments, just going through those hallways and spinning and spinning, feeling the characters’ fear, what’s happening to them, the uncertainty – the lights going out, being taken into the room, was there a shooter in the building? It was a blast! It brought me back to my action days. I’m ready to do an action film! Anyway, cinematically finding that palette of light and dark was important.

The Morning Show
The Morning Show (image credits: google)

You’ve directed three episodes this season, but you’ve been involved with “The Morning Show” from the beginning. How do you plan to bring in other directors for the remaining episodes, and how do you ensure they stay aligned with the show’s tone?

This is a very high-end show. So, I look for artists who have the skill to tell a story. Of course, I set the tone and style of the show with the pilot. I’m continuously developing the show. For me, it’s about handheld, not just in the scenes with hacking and chaos, but also in the smaller, intimate moments because all our characters are on the edge. Let’s not make it shaky-cam, but let’s create a little tension. I don’t want the directors to rediscover the wheel because we have an eye and an experience. I don’t want them to come in and shoot close-ups with a wide-angle lens. I just want them to tell the story the best way they can, and most importantly, it’s through the character’s eyes and perspective.

Alex (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) have had an interesting journey together. Where did you want to take that in The Morning Show Season 3?

They are really allies this season. Then, it’s the theme I keep coming back to: the state of truth in journalism and the lies we tell ourselves. When we discover the lie and what’s happening to them, it creates a very uncomfortable divide among these women. They come together, drift apart, and then come back together to do the right thing.

The Morning Show
The Morning Show (image credits: google)

Season 3 of “The Morning Show” premieres on September 13th on Apple TV+. A new episode will be released every Wednesday.

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