While the presentation was something new for Apple, it was familiar to the audience members from Los Angeles. That’s because what they were seeing was essentially an upfront presentation.
The so-called upfronts are a decades-old convention in the television business. Networks stage them for advertisers in Manhattan at Carnegie Hall, the Beacon Theater, and Radio City Music Hall. Stars take the spotlight to engage in scripted banter. Executives give rah-rah speeches. Skillfully edited clips raise hopes that the new shows will not be stinkers. Musicians and stand-up comics offer breaks in the action. Fall lineups are introduced with much fanfare.
Despite the disruptive effect Apple promises to have on the entertainment industry, the company followed an old script on Monday. Mr. Spielberg talked up “Amazing Stories.” Ms. Witherspoon and Ms. Aniston promoted their drama, “The Morning Show,” and did some patter with their co-star, Steve Carell. The writer, actor, producer and comedian Kumail Nanjiani played up his anthology show about immigrants, “Little America.” The singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, introduced by Mr. Abrams, sat at a keyboard and sang the title theme to their musical series, “Little Voice.”
When Apple’s heads of entertainment, the former Sony studio heads Mr. Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, hit the stage, there was thunderous applause as Hollywood cheered its own. A glimpse of their labors appeared in a one-minute, 43-second sizzle reel with clips from the coming programs. Apple hewed to the old timeline favored by traditional broadcast networks in announcing that the shows were “coming this fall.”
A partial standing ovation greeted the celebrity saved for last: Ms. Winfrey. “There has never been a moment quite like this one,” she said, echoing the hyperbole that had been prevalent. She spoke of two documentaries, one on workplace sexual harassment, the other on mental health, and laid out plans for what sounded like an Apple-enhanced revival of the Oprah Book Club.
Mr. Cook was the show’s closer. He paced before a black-and-white group portrait shot by Mr. Streiber the night before. It was projected behind him, the size of a mural. “They’ve impacted our culture, our society,” Mr. Cook said of its subjects, whom he praised as “these amazingly passionate and award-winning artists.”
The lights went up and the members of the Hollywood group went out. Celebrities and sizzle reels were nothing new to them, so they were buzzing more about the new credit card than anything else. Made of titanium, with rounded edges and no pesky numbers to mar its face, it is likely to be a Beverly Hills status object. They also went on about the card because the event had not laid to rest their concerns about marketing, premiere dates and the cost of the streaming service to consumers.