According to a new report by the New York Times, Apple CEO Tim Cook allegedly canned a show already in the works by Apple TV+ that was loosely based on Gawker, the controversial site that outed him as gay in 2008.
The show was called Scraper and was created by two Gawker veterans, Cord Jefferson and former editor in chief, Max Read. Two other former Gawker editors, Emma Carmichael and Leah Beckmann, were also hired by Apple TV+ as writers on the show.
Apple TV+ had several episodes in the can before Cook got wind about the project. According to the Times, Cook sent an email to an Apple executive expressing his distaste about producing the show. It was then that the company decided to kill the show, thus bringing it back on the free market.
In its heyday, Gawker was known for publishing stories that pushed the boundaries of privacy and for exposing dark truths about culture wars and public figures, including some of the first reports about convicted rapists Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby.
Cook's relationship with Gawker has never been chummy. In 2008, the site published a piece called “Is Apple COO Tim Cook Gay?” When he became CEO in 2011, the site wrote a followup piece calling him “the most powerful gay man in America,” which essentially publicly outed Cook though he had been out privately for years.
Cook made it official when he came out in 2014 in an op-ed for Bloomberg, becoming the first gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company as a result.
"For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation," Cook wrote at the time. "Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky. While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."
Gawker eventually went bankrupt after a 2012 lawsuit from wrestler Hulk Hogan was awarded $115 million in compensatory damages. The site appealed before eventually reaching a $31 million settlement. That case is the focul point of the Netflix documentary, Nobody Speak.
Four years later, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel admitted to secretly funding nearly $10 million to support Hogan’s lawsuit, telling the New York Times that he "thought it was worth fighting back," referring to a series of articles in 2007 published by Gawker that also outed Thiel as a gay man.
This isn’t the first project where Cook had to intervene with Apple TV+ projects.
According to the Wall Street Journal, he squashed a Dr. Dre biopic in 2018 because there was too much violence and nudity. He also reportedly told director M. Night Shyamalan to not display crucifixes on the walls in his film, Servant.