Reese Witherspoon Questions if Careers Like Hers and Jennifer Aniston’s Are “Possible Ever Again” With Streaming

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While taking part in a PaleyFest conversation on Friday night about the most recent season of The Morning Show, Reese Witherspoon got honest about the current state of Hollywood and concerns she has about the future.

Asked by moderator Kara Swisher about this particular time in tech and media, roughly six months after the end of the actors strike, Witherspoon — who serves as an executive producer on The Morning Show and has become one of the industry’s top producers via her Hello Sunshine banner — told the crowd at the Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre that the streaming landscape has changed in recent months.

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“Streaming was like the biggest thing for three to four years, and there was a never-ending constant smash for content, and, like, literally we could sell anything,” the star said. “What I’m seeing right now, I think from the buying and selling landscape side of it, is that probably part of the strike was a reset for these studios that are not profitable — the streaming services — and an opportunity for them to resize, rework and cut costs. So we’re going to probably see less stuff, which is probably good, right? It was just chaos. It was a flea market. We can slow down a little bit. But there’s going to be a more intention around it, and it’s gonna be a little bit harder.”

Witherspoon said she wonders and worries what the future will be like for artists, pointing to her co-star Jennifer Aniston beside her and asking, “Are careers like ours possible ever again? Are there opportunities for people to really emerge as a star? How do you know with no data transparency? How do we even know if something did well or didn’t do well?” The Big Little Lies star said Netflix is “pretty transparent about it” and reveals some figures, but “the other people don’t. And it’s tough as an actor — how do you negotiate? How does a producer? How do you market? If you don’t know where you sit in a landscape, how do you value something?

“There’s real amounts of data too, they’ve got a lock on it,” she added. “They don’t want you to have the advantage, and it’s tough.”

Aniston shared her own thoughts about working in Hollywood today, noting, “We did start in this industry in a time when it was so glamorous and so fun, and [you would] just go on auditions and auditions and just hope that you get it. And if you get that Movie of the Week and then hope you get that little guest star on Quantum Leap. When it was so simple, and now it is becoming so … it’s too much sometimes.”

Witherspoon also fielded a question about her thoughts on artificial intelligence and its risk to Hollywood, as she responded, “It’s here to stay, so just get used to it. And I think AI is not coming for your job; people who know how to use AI are coming for your job. So learn about it. It should be a tool upon which we lay our own creativity, our own humanity and our own ethics. That’s a whole conversation — for women and people of color and people who are othered sometimes in those developmental spaces really need to get in there … let’s not be scared of it, let’s dive in.”

Witherspoon and Aniston were joined on the panel by co-stars Mark Duplass, Karen Pittman, Nicole Beharie, Tig Notaro and Nestor Carbonell, as well as showrunner Charlotte Stoudt and executive producers Michael Ellenberg and Mimi Leder. Aside from big-picture conversations about the entertainment industry, the group also discussed key moments of season three, including the Jan. 6 storyline and Jon Hamm’s role, who Swisher referred to as “basically Elon Musk.”

“Let’s not say Elon Musk. Ish. That’s a hard name to hear,” Aniston joked, later recounting her character’s romance with Hamm’s billionaire mogul and leaning into the bit: “The charming, wonderful side of Elon Musk comes out and you sort of get swept away.”

The writers are currently working on season four — after “we blew everything up last year,” said Stoudt — with plans to shoot later this year. “I think it’s safe to say, I don’t think it’s giving anything away, that the show will be out after the election. That’s very interesting, writing it now before the election, and it’s going to stream after,” Stoudt added. “You have to go at this stuff sideways. I think if you go at it straight on it’s a little like, ‘Yeah, I could see that on CNN.'”

Leder chimed in, “I would say that last season was about, ‘What is the truth?’ Maybe this season could be about, ‘Who you trust?'”

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