With less than a month until the upfronts, we’re kicking off our annual Pilot Buzz series. As usual, the first edition only includes a limited number of projects that have been garnering early attention as many pilots are still filming. So, if a pilot is not mentioned, it probably means it is too early to weigh in or the feedback I’ve received is inconclusive at this time.
Shonda Rhimes. Viola Davis. Need we say more? ABC’s sexy suspense legal thriller How To Get Away With Murder, executive produced by Rhimes and starring Davis, is packing some heat early on. Secret & Lies starring Ryan Phillippe also is getting encouraging early response. It also has a seven-figure penalty and is directed by Charles McDougall, whose strong pilot record includes Desperate Housewives, The Good Wife and most recently, Resurrection last season. Then there is Marvel’s stealth Agent Carter project. Last year, the company went into Fort Knox mode on its Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, which was kept under lock and key. They took that a notch further this year with Agent Carter. Because there is a prototype — the project is inspired by a one shot, which was featured on the Blu-ray release of Iron Man 3 — word has been that it would forgo a pilot and go straight to series. The script was finished more than three months ago (“the script is great,” ABC’s Paul Lee said back in January), the option on one-shot’s star Hayley Atwell came up and was extended, but the green light never came. Now there is talk that a pickup for Agent Carter may come along with a renewal for Marvel’s freshman Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with the new series possibly serving as a bridge between the fall and spring portions of S.H.I.E.L.D. Also getting various level of early traction at ABC is mystery Sea of Fire and several dark horses, alien drama The Whispers (aka The Visitors), medical drama The Warriors and mystery Clementine. Read More »
ABC‘s Jimmy Kimmel Live will be in repeats all next week — except Thursday, when he will interview Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes from the set of her show in what’s being billed as a Jimmy Kimmel Live: … Read More »
Columbus Short seemed to have taken the whole Gladiator thing a bit too far and now could find himself behind bars for up to 4 years. The Scandal regular was arrested by the Claremont Police Department on … Read More »
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. Read More »
Shonda Rhimes will write a “part memoir, part inspiration, part prescription” book about navigating her family life with three daughters and a red-hot career, which includes creating Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal. Publication is … Read More »
Shonda Rhimes‘ company has set up another project — drama Just Rewards at ABC. Written by Paul Downs Colaizzo, it centers on a bankrupt, forty-something divorcée and her underemployed Millenial neighbors who make ends meet by … Read More »
The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts is about to get a taste of some Olivia Pope – kind of. On the day of the Season 10 debut of Grey’s Anatomy, President Barack Obama today used … Read More »
Dan Bucatinsky already acts on one Shonda Rhimes series (Scandal) and serves as a writer on another (Grey’s Anatomy). He now will try to expand Rhimes’ ABC portfolio with a new hourlong series. The network … Read More »
Bad news for ABC — better news maybe for Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey: Sandra Oh has announced she’s leaving Grey’s Anatomy at the end of the ABC drama’s upcoming 10th season. “It’s been a great privilege to play the character of Cristina Yang on GA and I am both sad and excited to see where this, her final season will take her,” Oh said in this afternoon’s statement, calling it an emotional and “deeply creative decision” to leave.
Pompeo and Dempsey’s contracts also are up at the end of the coming season, and ABC presumably won’t want any more of the series majors to exit. That’s always a good bargaining position. Dempsey made news the recent Summer TCA Press Tour, when he told a ballroom full of press — while promoting a car-racing show for Velocity network called Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans – that his passion in life is car racing, and acting is what he does to support that habit. Some mention may have been made of the redundancy of Grey’s storylines. Eyebrows around the room shot up. And a few days later, at the Press Tour, the reporters asked ABC programming chief Paul Lee if Dempsey was leaving and/or Grey’s was toast after this season. Lee responded, emphatically — as did ABC today in the wake of Oh’s announcement — that ABC intended to have the steamy doc drama on the primetime lineup “for many years.” At that time, Lee said he would not discuss possible cast changes — the press assumed he was talking about Dempsey — because he didn’t want to be yelled at by show creator Shonda Rhimes.
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The top TV stories that Deadline had this week. Missed ‘em? Now you can check them out anew here:
Leno’s Last Tonight Show’ To Air Feb 6; Staff Paid Until September
By Lisa De Mores – EXCLUSIVE: Jay Leno-hosted Tonight Show will air its last episode on February 6, and, per terms of his … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: You couldn’t tell Shonda Rhimes has her hands full with two 22-episode drama orders for next season (ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal). It’s barely August, and Rhimes’ Shondaland has already sold two … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In one of the first buys for the upcoming development cycle, ABC has put in development Lawless, from Mistresses developer/executive producer KJ Steinberg and Shonda Rhimes‘ Shondaland. The project tells the story of … Read More »
Diane Haithman is a contributor to Deadline.
Scandal fans watched tonight’s jam-packed season finale and received a major revelation SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! because of a single line (“Dad???”). The ABC drama’s ’gladiators’ as they are called heard it live at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at the end of the first-ever onstage table read of the show using the finale script. The session ended about 10 minutes into the 10 PM PT airing. The cast whooped and hollered too. “The satisfying part is, I knew all along,” Morton crowed as the cast finished reading Act 6 which revealed that Rowan (Joe Morton) is the father of Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). At the top of the session, show creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes said she hoped the experiment would give the audience a feeling of what it’s like to be in the room at a real table read. Washington said she didn’t know that would be a plot twist until the first table read of the script. “I grew up in a household where Joe Morton is a great American hero,” she said. “Every week I would say: ‘Joe, I really hope we have some scenes together. He’d say: ‘We do. We do.’ ”
Related: ABC To Air Some Dramas In Two Batches Of 12 Episodes
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The Parents Television Council is lambasting ABC for a torture scene in last week’s episode of Scandal that the group says reveals how broken the content-rating system is. “The brutal nature of that scene, which was rated as appropriate for a 14-year-old child, refutes statements made by an industry claiming to be responsible and concerned about societal violence,” the PTC said in a statement Monday. The January 10 episode of the political drama from creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes had a content advisory at the beginning of the broadcast. But calling the three-minute scene “intense, explicit and bloodied,” the heads-up wasn’t enough for the advocacy group. “It is sickening just how quickly the entertainment industry was able to move past the tragedy of Newtown and get back to business as usual,” said PTC president Tim Winter. The PTC particularly singles out the timing of the episode, coming on the same day entertainment industry representatives met with Vice President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss curbing gun violence in the wake of the Newtown school shooting. The episode marked a Season 2 ratings high for the Kerry Washington-starring drama. Read More »
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Scandal creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes says producers of the ABC series to “ramp up the drama” for the second season. During a conversation on the series’ Hollywood set at the … Read More »
On tonight’s Oprah’s Next Chapter, TV showrunner Shonda Rhimes reveals how she felt when former Grey’s Anatomy reguler Katherine Heigl said in 2008 she wanted her name taken out of Emmy consideration because she hadn’t been “given the material to warrant a nomination” in the show’s writing. Winfrey asks Rhimes, … Read More »
Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal, is producing another drama for the network with a female lead… sort of. ABC has put in development MILA 2.0, a sci-fi thriller about a young woman who discovers that she is a Mobile Intel Life-like Android, Mila, an experiment in artificial intelligence created by the U.S. government and her scientist mother, who kidnapped her when she was found to have human emotions. Dave DiGilio will write the drama project based on the book Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza, which is being published in March by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. It is planned to be the first in a sci-fi book series. DiGilio executive produces with Shondaland’s Rhimes and Betsy Beers. ABC Studios, where Shondaland is based, is producing. Read More »