Apple has officially ended development on Bastards, a limited series based on the Israeli show Nevelot. The show had Richard Gere attached to play the lead when it received a direct-to-series order from Apple late last year. It was destined for Apple’s upcoming streaming service Apple TV+, which is expected to be rolled out this fall.
Described as a dark drama, Bastards was to follow two elderly Vietnam War vets, one of whom was to be played by Gere, whose monotonous lives are upended. When the woman they both loved half a century ago is killed in a car crash, they channel their anger, regrets, and resentment toward the modern world into a violent rampage. The show was created by Howard Gordon, who had previously adapted Israel’s Prisoners of War into Homeland for Showtime. He was to be joined by co-showrunner Warren Leight, a veteran of Law and Order: SVU.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Apple outbid several other outlets to land Bastards. The sudden cancellation of the project is the result of creative differences between the two showrunners and the tech giant, which reportedly wanted the show to focus more on the Veterans’ friendship than the darker themes inherent in the story. Rather than give ground on their notes to Gordon and Leight, Apple decided to cancel the show outright, paying a large financial penalty as a result. As of now, the show is in limbo, with no clear indication as to where, if anywhere, it will end up.
The cancellation of Bastards is the first such move at Apple since Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg were tapped to run Apple TV+. As co-heads of Sony’s primetime series division, the duo had a reputation for greenlighting dark series to great success, having allowed the likes of Breaking Bad to go forward. While moving away from a show based on gritty content may not be a traditional part of the duo’s playbook, there is already precedent for it at Apple.
Before Erlicht and Amburg’s arrival, Apple scrapped a scripted offering from Dr. Dre entitled Vital Signs on the basis that it was to depict extreme amounts of sex and violence. That show was to be another dark drama loosely based on the life of the legendary rapper. By Apple’s standards, several scenes, including one that depicted an orgy, were seen as gratuitous and antithetical to the brand they wanted to build for Apple TV+.