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City on Fire and The Last Thing He Told Me Lead Apple's Book-to-TV Slate

Apple TV+ will also premiere Dear Edward and The Big Door Prize in the coming months.
  • Wyatt Oleff in City on Fire; Jennifer Garner in The Last Thing He Told Me (Photos: Apple)
    Wyatt Oleff in City on Fire; Jennifer Garner in The Last Thing He Told Me (Photos: Apple)

    2023 is shaping up to be a big year for book lovers — especially those with an Apple TV+ subscription.

    During the final day of the Television Critics Association 2023 Winter Press Tour, Apple previewed its upcoming lineup of original series, including buzzy book-to-TV adaptations City on Fire, a drama from Gossip Girl creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, and The Last Thing He Told Me, starring and executive produced by Jennifer Garner.

    Inspired by the acclaimed novel of the same name by Garth Risk Hallberg, City on Fire stars Chase Sui Wonders (Generation) as Samantha, an NYU student who is shot in Central Park on the Fourth of July in 2003. In the wake of the shooting, Samantha's friend Charlie (Wyatt Oleff, I Am Not Okay With This), who is struggling to cope with the death of his father on 9/11 two years prior, sets out to unravel the mystery of what happened. He soon discovers that Samantha is the crucial connection between a series of mysterious fires in the city, the downtown music scene, and a wealthy family burdened by secrets.

    In addition to Wonders and Oleff, City on Fire stars Jemima Kirke (Girls), Nico Tortorella (Younger), and Ashley Zukerman (The Last Symbol). The drama premieres May 12 on Apple TV+.

    This spring also brings the premiere of The Last Thing He Told Me, a seven-part series based on the #1 New York Times bestselling novel by Laura Dave. Jennifer Garner, who also executive produces, headlines the cast as Hannah, a woman who forges a relationship with her 16-year-old stepdaughter Bailey (Angourie Rice, Spider-Man: No Way Home) in order to discover the truth about her husband's mysterious disappearance. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) and Aisha Tyler (Criminal Minds) also appear in the series adaptation, which debuts April 14.

    The Last Thing He Told Me is the latest collaboration between Apple and Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine, the production company behind The Morning Show, Octavia Spencer's Truth Be Told, and psychological thriller Surface. Witherspoon has long been involved in the success of the project: Dave's novel was named a Reese's Book Club pick in May 2021, the month of its publication, and quickly climbed the bestseller list from there.

    Other book-to-TV adaptations landing on Apple TV+ in the months ahead include star-studded drama Dear Edward and comedy series The Big Door Prize. Premiering February 3, Dear Edward tells the story of a 12-year-old boy (newcomer Colin O'Brien) who survives a plane crash that kills every other passenger on the flight, including his family. As Edward and others affected by the tragedy — an ensemble led by Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black) and Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) — try to make sense of life after the crash, they form unexpected friendships and find community in their grief.

    Dear Edward reunites Britton with Friday Night Lights creator Jason Katims, who serves as showrunner and executive producer. Book author Ann Napolitano also serves as an executive producer alongside Fisher Stevens (Succession), who directs the first episode.

    On the lighter end of the spectrum is The Big Door Prize, a comedy from David West Read (Schitt's Creek) based on M.O. Walsh's novel of the same name. The Big Door Prize centers on a small town that is forever changed when a mysterious machine appears, promising to reveal each resident's true life potential. The half-hour comedy stars Chris O'Dowd (Get Shorty), Gabrielle Dennis (Luke Cage), and Ally Maki (Wrecked), and premieres in Spring 2023.

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: City on Fire, Apple TV+, The Big Door Prize, Dear Edward, The Last Thing He Told Me, Television Critics Association 2023 Winter Press Tour