EXCLUSIVE: Marking her 10-year anniversary at ABC Studios, where she started her writing career in 2004, Jenna Bans has signed a new two-year overall deal with the studio. Bans is the creator/executive producer of ABC’s drama pilot Sea of Fire, from ABC Studios and Sony TV. If the pilot goes to series, she will continue as executive producer/showrunner. For the past seven years, Bans has been one of the most trusted writer/producers of ABC Studios’ top drama creator, Shonda Rhimes. Bans worked on Rhimes’ medical dramas Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. She has been on Rhimes’ latest series, hot DC drama Scandal, since after the pilot, most recently as consulting producer while working on her pilot. Bans also created and executive produced the ABC/ABC Studios medical drama Off the Map, executive produced by Rhimes. UTA-repped Bans got her break when she was hired as a staff writer on the first season of ABC Studios’ ABC dramedy Desperate Housewives just as she was about to enroll in law school.
EXCLUSIVE: ABC has given early pilot orders to two dramas: Sea Of Fire, based on a Dutch format, and How To Get Away With Murder, from Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers’ Shondaland. Both projects are in the serialized thriller/mystery genre and come from writers groomed by Rhimes who work on her hot ABC drama Scandal – executive producer Jenna Bans and co-executive producer Peter Nowalk.
Sea Of Fire, from Sony Pictures TV, Scripted World and Mandeville, was written by Bans. When three teenage girls star in a pornographic film, it tears their families apart and leads to a disappearance, a murder and host of other secrets boiling under the surface in a small town. The original series, Vuurzee, which drew comparisons to Twin Peaks, was produced by and aired on pubcaster VARA and ran for two seasons that aired four years apart, in 2005 and in 2009. Sea Of Fire is executive produced by Bans; Scripted World’s Rob Golenberg and Alon Aranya; Mandeville’s David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Laurie Zaks; as well as VARA’s Robert Kievit and Frank Ketelaar. This was ABC’s second stab at adapting the format. Last year the project, written by another writer, didn’t go beyond the script stage. Sea Of Fire marks the third consecutive ABC pilot for Scripted World based on a Dutch format. The first two, Red Widow and Betrayal both went to series.
Off the Map creator/executive producer Jenna Bans and executive producer Shonda Rhimes are teaming for a new ABC drama project created by Bans. The untitled legal drama centers on a young, idealistic defense attorney who, after being ignominiously fired from his high-powered Minneapolis law firm, struggles to start his own firm with an eclectic group of lawyer misfits, while starting to realize that he may have been fired from his old job because he got too close to a deadly cover-up. ABC Studios and Shondaland are producing, with Bans, Rhimes and Betsy Beers executive producing. Before she created Off the Map, Bans worked on Rhimes’ veteran medical drama Grey’s Anatomy and now serves as a co-executive producer on Rhimes’ midseason ABC drama Scandal. This marks Shondaland’s second ABC sale this season. Last month, the ABC Studios-based company set up Gilded Lillys, a 1895 drama written by The Nine co-creator KJ Steinberg. Bans and Rhimes are with ICM.
Here’s an exclusive first look at the extended teaser for Off the Map, ABC’s new medical hour from Shonda Rhimes and Jenna Bans that’s set to premiere on January 12. The drama revolves around a group of doctors working at a medical clinic in the South American jungle and stars Martin Henderson (The Ring), Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls), Jason George (Grey’s Anatomy), Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights), Rachelle Lefevre (What About Brian), and Mamie Gummer (The Good Wife). Betsy Beers also serves as an executive producer. Michael Ausiello is contributing to Deadline.com as he preps for the launch of TVLine.com, a new TV-centric website from MMC.
Shonda Rhimes/Jenna Bans’ new ABC medical drama Off the Map will premiere Jan. 12 and will succeed the network’s recently cancelled new legal drama The Whole Truth in the Wednesday 10 PM time slot. ABC had originally planned to premiere Off the Map in the same time slot it once used to launch Grey’s Anatomy, Sundays 10 PM after Desperate Housewives. In preparation for the move, ABC gave the slot’s regular dweller, Brothers & Sisters, an 18-episode order in May. But then the veteran family drama did solidly in the ratings in the first few weeks of the season, leading to an order for 4 more episodes. Meanwhile, ABC brass were happy with Off the Map, ordering extra scripts and eventually 6 additional episodes. That made it impossible for the two series to share the Sunday 10 PM time period, and, with The Whole Truth done, Off the Map was slotted on Wednesdays. Off the Map, set at a medical clinic in the South American jungle, was created by Bans who is executive producing with Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Gretchen Berg. Aaron Harbert and director Randy Zisk. While the other networks are yet to unveil any midseason scheduling plans, ABC has been quietly putting in place key pieces of its midseason schedule. The network recently announced that V will return on Jan. 4 and will run in the Tuesday 9 PM slot.
UPDATE: Here is what Shawn Ryan just said about the name change of his new Fox series: ”Changing the title from Ride-Along to THE CHICAGO CODE reflects our belief that this is more than just a cop show. It’s not just about the police, but also politics, the Midwest, history, Government corruption and the city’s code. Plus adding ‘Chicago’ to anything is always a good idea.”
PREVIOUS: Shawn Ryan’s new Chicago-based cop drama for Fox, Ride-Along, has been renamed. It will now be known as The Chicago Code. The change was made to better reflect the the importance of the show’s Chicago setting. … Meanwhile, ABC has ordered 5 more scripts from the Shonda Rhimes-produced upcoming ABC drama Off The Map. That’s in addition to the extra script ABC picked up two weeks ago, bringing the total order to 6 additional scripts. Nice vote of confidence for the medical drama created by Jenna Bans.