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Read the one-sentence pitch for Apple’s most ambitious TV show yet

Published Jul 24th, 2021 1:33PM EDT
Foundation Apple TV
Image: Apple Inc.

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When Apple announced the Foundation TV show for Apple TV+ a few years ago, it was clear that it would be the company’s most ambitious original series for streaming. Done right, the sci-fi story based on Isaac Asimov’s novels could become an amazing show. It could rival fantasy shows like Game of Thrones. But Foundation isn’t easy to adapt for the big or little screen. Addressing the new Apple TV+ show, Foundation head writer and showrunner David Goyer explained how he’s making it work. He also revealed the one-sentence pitch that helped him sell Foundation to Apple.

Goyer, whose work includes the Blade trilogy, The Dark Knight trilogy, and Man of Steel, has two massive shows debuting in the coming months. Foundation launches on Apple TV+ on September 24th, while The Sandman is expected to hit Netflix in 2022.

The former is the more daring of the two, with Goyer having told The Hollywood Reporter that he wants Foundation to be an epic 80-hour TV series. That’s eight seasons of 10 episodes each, “if it works out.” The showrunner said the story he wants to tell with Foundation would be a trilogy of about nine hours if he were to do it as features.

The one-sentence Foundation pitch for Apple TV

Apple asked Goyer “laughingly” to pitch Foundation for Apple TV in a single sentence. Here’s what he told them: “It’s a 1,000-year chess game between Hari Seldon [Jared Harris] and the Empire, and all the characters in between are the pawns, but some of the pawns over the course of this saga end up becoming kings and queens.”

Apple is going big on Foundation. 
According to the same Goyer, that Foundation “takes some big-ass swings,” and Apple “by and large, went for it.”

Goyer also recalled talking about the Foundation project to Apple TV+ chiefs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg. “Don’t note me on the science-fiction. I can handle the science fiction. Note me on the drama, note me on the characters, note me on their relationships. I’ll take care of the other crap,” he had told them.

Apple has offered Goyer the resources he needed to make Foundation season one for Apple TV+. He said the show has an ample budget. “On an average per hour, if you were to take two episodes and put them together, the budget is bigger than some of the movies I’ve done.”

Why Foundation is so complicated

Whether you’ve read Asimov’s Foundation books or not, Goyer explained to THR why it’s so difficult to adapt in movies or TV shows:

There are three tricky aspects to Foundation that I think have tripped up all the other adaptations. The first is that the story is supposed to span 1,000 years with all these massive time jumps — that’s hard to tell. It’s certainly hard to capsulize in a two- or three-hour film. The second aspect is the books are kind of anthological. You’ll have a couple of short stories in the first book with main character Salvor Hardin, then you’ll jump forward a hundred years and there’ll be a different character. The third thing is that they’re not particularly emotional; they’re books about ideas, about concepts. So a lot of the action happens off-screen. In the books, the Empire, which is on 10,000 worlds, literally falls off-screen — like, it happens in between chapters. Obviously, that wasn’t going to work for a television show.

Without spoiling anything that we’re about to see on Apple TV+, Goyer said he found a way to make Foundation interesting for streaming:

So without giving too much away, I figured out a way to have some of the characters extend their lifespans. About six characters will continue from season to season, from century to century. That way it becomes a half anthological, half continuing story.

The show based on the books that inspired George Lucas for Star Wars launches on September 24th — check out the latest trailer below. While you wait, check out THR’s wide-ranging interview with Goyer at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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