Just like TV industry prognosticators predicted, Apple’s $1 billion push into the original TV space is already shifting the ground beneath some execs’ feet. Among the first to feel the vibrations is HBO, which just dished out a big pay raise to the stars of Big Little Lies—one that reportedly brings stars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon into the ballpark of $1 million per episode.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Witherspoon’s deal with Apple to star alongside Jennifer Aniston in a scripted series inspired by Brian Stelter’s morning TV tome Top of the Morning was a major source of leverage. T.H.R.’s sources place Witherspoon’s salary for that series around $1.25 million per episode, plus an executive producing fee and points on the drama’s backend—making her Big Little Lies Season 1 haul, estimated between $250,000 and $350,000, seem pretty paltry by comparison. The actresses’ new deals not only raise their per-episode Big Little Lies salaries to roughly $1 million, but also provide E.P. fees and backend points.
For the record, Casey Bloys isn’t sweating this; as HBO’s programming president told T.H.R., “It’s not a shock to anybody that having a second season of an ongoing series is easier to have with those deals in place. Every outlet has to make their own decisions about economics that make sense for them. I’m not going to shake my fist and say, ‘Darn it, Apple!’ If that’s what made sense for them for that show, God bless.”
Since HBO initially expected Big Little Lies to be a one-off limited series, no deals were in place for Season 2—leaving all of the actors’ options open. The show’s massive success, plus the negotiating power that came with Witherspoon’s new, lucrative Apple project, allowed the cast to secure hefty raises. Zoe Kravitz, who made $380,000 total for Season 1, will make $3 million in Season 2; Shailene Woodley will also see a big bump from her $1.7 million total salary for Season 1.
One word of caution for fans: don’t get your hopes up for a third season. As Bloys told T.H.R., “Everybody involved is so busy that it’s hard to imagine aligning everybody’s schedule again. That we were able to get Season 2 together is a small miracle.”
Big Little Lies Season 2 will premiere on HBO in 2019.
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Westworld (Season 2)
HBO is once again hoping you’ll ignore the big Game of Thrones-shaped hole in its schedule and turn your attention back to the sci-fi mind game that is Westworld. The Emmy-nominated series, starring Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton, is ready to confound you once again in its second season. Until its spring 2018 premiere, take a trip back in time and revisit nine burning questions we still have about the finale.Photo: By John P. Johnson/HBO.
Yara Shahidi takes the lead in this youthful Black-ish spin-off set to air on Freeform starting Jan. 3, 2018. In this series, Zoey is finally off to college, stumbling through cringeworthy rites of passage like embarrassing herself at a frat party and hiding secrets from her parents.Photo: By Eric Liebowitz/Freeform.
’Tis the season to watch a bunch of perfect human specimens fight for tiny gold medallions. This year’s Winter Olympics will kick off on Feb. 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.Photo: By Julian Finney/Getty Images.
After breaking out on Master of None and winning a historic Emmy for one of this year’s best TV episodes, Lena Waithe is ready to claim her spot in the prestige-TV realm. Enter The Chi, her Showtime series about young people coming of age in Chicago, set to premiere on Jan. 7.Photo: By Matt Dinerstein/SHOWTIME.
A Wrinkle in Time
The classic Madeleine L’Engle tale is finally coming to the big screen on March 9, 2018, thanks to Disney and director Ava DuVernay. The sci-fi story about a girl tesseracting her way through time to find her missing father will star newcomer Storm Reid alongside stars like Oprah Winfrey,Mindy Kaling,Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Pine.Photo: By Atsushi Nishijima/Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
After some catastrophic ups and downs, Han Solo’s origin story will finally be revealed to us on May 25, 2018. The Star Wars spin-off stars Alden Ehrenreich as the galactic smuggler and also features Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and Emilia Clarke playing a mysterious character named Kira.Photo: From Lucasfilm Ltd./Everett Collection.PreviousNext
Laura BradleyLaura Bradley is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com. She was formerly an editorial assistant at Slate and lives in Brooklyn.