UPDATE, 6:52PM: President Obama addressed a crowd of about 450 supporters tonight during a fundraiser hosted by Shonda Rhimes and her Scandal star Kerry Washington. According to White House pool reports, the president gave his traditional fundraising remarks but couldn’t resist citing the ABC drama about a D.C. fixer and her capital intrigue. “No offense — Scandal is a great show,” Obama said, “but it’s not something that we necessarily want to be living out day in, day out.” Earlier, Washington introduced Rhimes as “my boss,” then the prolific producer said of the president, “He’s been doing his job like a boss.” Obama later complimented Washington, saying “there were few people who worked harder” on his campaign than she did. Rhimes also was a big supporter of both of his presidential bids as a donor and a volunteer – even pitching in at a campaign phone bank. Singer Janelle Monae also was there, and the president joked about her having a video of him trying to keep up with Usher on the dance floor. ” Now, this is top secret,” he said of the video. “She has promised that this will never be released. But she can blackmail me at any time.” He joked later, “I did not drop in splits, but I did bust a move.”
Related: Obama Names ‘Scandal’ Creator Shonda Rhimes To Kennedy Center Board
Pool reports say the commander in chief arrived at Rhimes’ Spanish-style Hancock Park home a little after 5PM. With tickets ranging from $1,000 to $32,400, the event was held in the backyard, which was adorned with white umbrellas and U.S. and California flags. Among the guests were various members of the Scandal cast such as on-air President Fitz Grant, played by Tony Goldwyn. HBO’s Michael Lombardo, who held an event recently at his home with Michelle Obama, and ABC’s Paul Lee were also in attendance this evening. The President is staying overnight in Beverly Hills and has another fundraiser set for tomorrow at the home of Live Nation head honcho and transplanted Canadian Michael Rapino – so expected more traffic delays on Wednesday.
Read More »
TV critics want to heap a lot of responsibility on Shonda Rhimes. Rhimes already has her fill, thank you very much, what with overseeing ABC’s entire Thursday lineup in the fall, including Grey’s Anatomy at 8 PM, followed by Scandal at 9 PM, and new How To Get Away With Murder at 10 PM. At TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014 this morning, she resisted their efforts to get Money Quotes for their TV Diversity Navel-Lint Gazing pieces.
Scandal’s debut in the spring of 2012 marked the first time in 30 years American TV featured a primetime series with a black female star. Now, just three years later “We have two shows,” marveled one TV critic, who asked Rhimes to speak to the “lesson” to TV in this, also asking for her thoughts on “the impact of having two shows on network TV that star black women.”
“Do I think there are any lessons? No, I don’t. The shows speak for themselves,” Shonda responded curtly.
In re the impact of having two shows starring black women on American primetime TV, Rhimes brushed it off with, “It remains to be seen. It hasn’t happened yet.” Read More »
“Is this a therapy session?,” ABC president Paul Lee asked jokingly after another long-winded question about the network’s new series. That about sums up an uneventful executive session, which also could double as a drinking game over the great number of times the words “diversity” and “specificity” were repeated. There was no mention of ABC’s ratings woes but the diversity of the network’s new slate — which includes comedies about a black family (Black-ish), Asian family (Fresh Off The Boat) and Latino family (Cristela), as well as dramas American Crime, created by John Ridley, and How To Get Away with Murder, exec produced by Shonda Rhimes and starring Viola Davis — was front and center. Asked what the tipping point was, Lee was quick to point out, “we’re not there yet,” in terms of level of diversity. “To be able to pull this off, you need not just stars on air… you need the storytellers and you need the executives to truly reflect America as it is,” he added, giving a shout-out to the network and sister studio’s diverse group of creative executives.
Lee indirectly referenced 21st Century Fox’s move to put both Fox and 20th Century Fox TV under the same leadership, Dana Walden and Gary Newman, as part of a growing trend. ABC and ABC Studios have operated that way for years, and Lee, who oversees both, praised the model. “We’ve used that combination of network and studio to develop a lot of great shows,” he said.
Asked about the perception that cable dramas are cooler than their broadcast counterparts in light of another Emmy shutout of broadcast dramas from the top category, Lee spoke in support of broadcast shows. “I’ll put American Crime or Scandal against any cable drama series,” he said. “Sometime limitations can provide you with better storytelling, and Shonda Rhimes is a beacon of that.” Read More »
Less than 10 months after President Obama appointed Shonda Rhimes to the Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts’ Board of Trustees the Scandal EP is doing the Commander-In-Chief a solid with a big bucks fundraiser next month. Heading out to Hollywood once again to hover up cash for the Democratic Party, Obama will be the headliner at a $32,400 a ticket event at Rhimes’ home on July 23. To help make it a fully scandalous affair, Kerry Washington, the star of the ABC political intrigue series, is serving on the host committee for the shindig. This is not the first time Rhimes has worked for Obama. The producer was a big supporter of both of Obama’s campaigns for President as both a donor and a volunteer – even pitching in at a campaign phone bank.
Related: Obama Names ‘Scandal’ Creator Shonda Rhimes To Kennedy Center Board
Tickets for the late July event range from $1,000 to the more than $30,000 for high rollers. Patrons who pay out the top price will not only get entertained by a yet unnnamed musical act and get their pic with POTUS but also participate in an up close and personal dinner the Fundraiser-In-Chief will have with 30 couples. “This type of thing has proven a real … Read More »
ABC programming chief Paul Lee spent a surprising amount of time this morning on the phone trying to calm reporters whose undies seemed bunched over the move of Grey’s Anatomy to 8 PM Thursday (to make room for Shonda Rhimes new drama How To Get Away With Murder at 10 PM) and the quantity of the culturally diverse new series Lee has ordered for next season.
Related: ABC 2014 Schedule
“We wanted to reflect the changed face of America,” Lee explained, in re the new series’ cultural diversity. But his comment also applied to the many questions he took on his move of Grey’s Anatomy into the timeslot that, decades ago, was known as The Family Hour. It’s a notion that, practically speaking, ended years ago for American viewers, thanks to the more adult original programming now available in the hour on cable and other programing platforms, and via DVR viewing, etc. But, it’s a concept to which some watchdog groups, politicians, advertisers – and reporters, apparently – have clung. Lee noted the move was made, not to push the envelope but because the network has “stumbled” at 8 on Thursdays in the past “so this made all the sense in the world.”
Related: ABC’s New Series First Looks
Read More »
After lengthy negotiations, ABC Studios/Disney has closed a new mega deal with ABC’s most important drama producer, Shonda Rhimes. The four-year extension, valued at eight figures, will keep Rhimes at ABC Studios through May 2018. Rhimes has created three series for ABC and its sister studio, all of which have gone the distance: Grey’s Anatomy, which is going into its 11th season, sizzling DC drama Scandal, which is heading into Season 4, and Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Private Practice, which ran for six seasons. Additionally, though her ABC Studios-based company ShondaLand with producing partner Betsy Beers, Rhimes has produced a number of projects for the studio. The latest, drama How To Get Away With Murder starring Viola Davis, was ABC’s hottest pilot this season, easily landing a series order and a spot on ABC’s fall schedule. Rhimes is with ICM Partners and Michael Gandler.
UPDATED: If you haven’t figured out the pattern of ABC‘s renewals, the network is starting with all current series from sibling ABC Studios that it wants to bring back. As should be expected, dramas are first, beginning with the obvious ones: Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy, picked up for Season 11; Rhimes’ Scandal, ordered for Season 4 (Rhimes-produced pilot How To Get Away With Murder just got a series pickup too); the entire ABC Sunday drama lineup: Once Upon A Time (for season 4), rookie Resurrection (for Season 2) and Revenge (for Season 4) as well as Monday veteran Castle for Season 7. The only dramas missing from the list are freshman Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is under Marvel’s purview and could be bundled with Agent Carter, and Nashville, which is a co-production with Lionsgate TV, so it may be in a different category.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Jimmy Kimmel gamely interviewed Shonda Rhimes — “the woman whose brain gave birth” to ABC’s primetime soap Scandal – in a full episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live tonight, while viewers attempted to recover from the dizzying Scandal season finale. Chatting with Rhimes on the show set, Kimmel noted the season wrapper was really about three finales’ worth of action. “I always want to make the show something you can’t do other stuff while it’s on…You can’t fold laundry, you can’t yell at your husband,” Rhimes explained. Kimmel said that was noble of her. And so, the night wore on, Shonda calmly declining to cough up any dirt about future plans for the show, Kimmel trying to liven things up by noting the conference table at which they were seated was the one on which two of the show’s characters had sex in the finale and hoping someone had cleaned it before this interview.
Related: Kimmel Hits Season High & Tops Late Night With ‘Scandal’ Finale Show
“You know I can’t tell you whether or not he’s dead,” Rhimes said when asked about the fate of Columbus Short’s character, who was last seen at B613 with a gun to his head. Short made his own headlines this week when his wife accused him of threatening to kill her and himself with a knife. There had been speculation that he may be gone from Scandal.
Rhimes did tell a story about the time she could not make up her mind whether Scott Foley’s Jake Ballard should become POTUS’ new running mate — or head of a covert CIA operation — deciding to shoot it both ways and look at the footage to see which storyline “feels stupid’ and which “feels good.” Extra points if you went with “Veep” for Feels Stupid. Assisting Kimmel greatly in the Liven Things Up category were the actors of Scandal, who performed most of the parts in Kimmel’s Spanish-language spinoff Escandalo, which created the strong impression the ensemble cast of this drama was born to make single-camera comedy.
Video after the jump.
Read More »
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: This story contains many details of Thursday’s season finale episode of ABC’s Scandal.
ABC’s D.C. drama, created by Shonda Rhimes, has grabbed big ratings over three seasons with a potent mix of wild plot twists and savvy use of social media. In another signature Shonda shocker, Washington fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) tonight watched POTUS Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) become a virtual certainty to lose his re-election bid when a bomb intended for him goes off at the funeral of a U.S. senator who’d been assassinated by Olivia’s terrorist mom Maya Lewis (Khandi Alexander) in order to get Grant at the funeral, only POTUS isn’t there. But his chief presidential-race rival — and VPOTUS – Sally Langston (Kate Burton) was there, and survived, and becomes simultaneous ministering angel and Irony Lady at the scene of the blast. President Grant’s day gets considerably worse when he suggests to Olivia that they run away together, marry, move to Vermont and have babies, causing Olivia to have pangs of conscience and spill the beans that Grant’s dad had raped his wife, First Lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young), years ago. Read More »
ABC‘s D.C. fixer drama Scandal has built big ratings in three seasons with a potent mix of often ridiculous plot twists and creator Shonda Rhimes’ savvy use of social media, which has bound fans closely to the show and its stars. That combo has paid off: Ahead of tonight’s season finale, which is certain to feature another signature shocker, Scandal has added 3 million viewers (for 11.5 million total). It’s up even more in the key adults 18-49 demo, +43% compared with last season, according to Nielsen. That demographic also represents most of the heaviest social-media users and is fervently sought by marketers.
Related: ‘Scandal’: Shonda Rhimes Does It Again With Season Finale
Scandal‘s OMG moments, and the chance to feverishly chat about them online as they happen, have glued fans to the show’s actual broadcasts, instead of waiting to watch an episode later on DVR, VOD or Hulu. To further stick fans to their TV-side seats, Rhimes and other show principals including star Kerry Washington also take part, tweeting and posting with fans before, during and after airings. That close connection has been a crucial part of the show’s growth. According to RelishMIX, the social-media analytics firm, followings for those show-connected accounts have exploded — led by Washington’s Facebook account, which jumped an eye-popping 466% in Season 3. That comes after an offseason filled with awards appearances that really fueled the show’s social-media growth. In fact, says RelishMIX CEO Marc Karzen, the biggest growth in Washington’s Facebook account happened in and around her (very pregnant) appearances at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. Those red carpet photos set fans abuzz for days.
Related: ‘Scandal’ Among Peabody Award Winners
Read More »
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: Behind The Scandalabra special. The ABC late-night star has tended to do his best numbers, in total viewers and the demo, on Thursdays because his program has been branded Scandal Thursdays on that night, featuring guests from Rhimes’ Thursday hit. Scandal is airing its season finale that night. The episode will also feature a Scandal blooper reel and the full anthology of Kimmel’s Spanish-language spinoff, Escandalo.
Related: RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Scandal’ Steady Ahead Of Season Finale
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 a warrant today and released on $50,000 bail, according to the L.A. County D.A.’s office. The arrest comes one day after Short was charged with one count of felony battery with serious bodily harm over an alleged brawl in a West L.A. restaurant on March 15 that saw the other guy KO’d. Short has played lawyer Harrison Wright on the hit ABC show since Season 1. His character is part of the elite crew of high-level D.C. fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). ABC and creator Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland production company had no comment on the West L.A. incident. Sources say it didn’t affect production on the latest season of Scandal, which wraps this week. However, with a potential multi-year stint in state prison if found guilty, Short’s future on the show beyond this season is uncertain. The actor is expected to be arraigned on the felony charge within the next 30 days.
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 eyed for 2015 after Simon & Schuster announced a deal today for world English-language rights with ICM Partners’ Jennifer Joel. The publishing house is owned by CBS Corp, whose CBS is a broadcast rival of ABC, where Rhimes’ series live. “Shonda Rhimes is bar none in the storytelling realm,” said Simon & Schuster VP and Editor-in-Chief Marysue Rucci. “Now fans of her phenomenal shows can read Shonda’s story in her own words — and marvel at how Shonda built a phenomenal career through her unforgettable television characters and a beautiful family, simultaneously.” Apart from her TV career that includes running production shingle Shondaland, Rhimes got her start as a movie writer (The Princess Diaries 2), has made Time magazine’s list of the most influential people twice, is on Fortune‘s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, and was just appointed by President Obama to serve as Trustee for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We’ve seen Queens of All Media before — Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart come to mind — and a self-anointed King of All Media in Howard Stern. So does Rhimes now belong on the good side of those castle walls?
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 chasing reward money for unsolved crimes. ABC Studios and studio-based Shondaland are producing, with Rhimes and Beers executive producing and Colaizzo co-exec producing. Just Rewards joins four other Shondaland projects, dramedy Show & Tell from Dan Bucatinsky, drama How To Get Away With Murder, drama projects from KJ Steinberg and Dana Calvo, and a comedy from Christine Pietrosh and Jessica Goldstein. Colaizzo is with ICM Partners and Echo Lake.
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 some of his patronage power and appointed Shonda Rhimes, the creator/EP of the medical drama and Scandal, to the Center’s Board of Trustees. Obama also appointed the Carlyle Group’s CEO David Rubenstein Empire Global Ventures’ CEO Alexandra Stanton, Chicago art gallery owner Amalia Pera Mahoney, FI Investment Group CEO Frank Islam and Entravision Communications’ CEO Walter Ulloa to the Board Thursday as well. “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead,” said Obama in a statement when making the announcements. Rhimes was a big supporter of Obama’s campaigns for President as both a donor and even worked in a phone bank with Private Practice actress Kate Walsh for the candidate. Season 10 of Grey’s Anatomy premieres tonight on ABC with Season 3 of the D.C. political drama Scandal set to launch on October 3rd.