Scandal Creator Bids Farewell to Private Practice

After more than 100 episodes, Private Practice will be coming to a close at episode 613. Creator Shonda Rhimes issued the announcement today via Shondaland. Rhimes called the final 13-episode season a “creative renaissance.”

“I’m sad to say that Private Practice‘s run will end after episode 613 this season. There was a lot of discussion and debate but, in the end, the guys at the network and the studio and I all decided that Private Practice was reaching its finish line. Creatively, we are all extremely proud of the show and especially proud of this season — which you will all soon discover is a creative renaissance. I can’t wait for you to see it.

It’s heartbreaking to end. Truly. I feel so lucky to write for these characters and tell these stories and I truly feel this show has taught me so much as a writer. And there’s a family here, of crew and cast, people who have bonded over these past five and a half seasons. It’s rare for a show to go for more than 100 episodes and we are incredibly proud to have been such a show. And we’re grateful to all of you for spending time with us for an hour every week for the last 6 years. It’s meant the world.

Thank you.”

Private Practice was a spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy. Rhimes is currently working on her new political drama, Scandal, starring Kerry Washington.

10 Focus Points on the ‘Scandal’ Season 2 Premiere

Scandal Season 2

The freshman season of Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal may have been brief, but it was easily one of the best mid-season starts of 2012. Heartbreak, conspiracy, love triangles, murder and backstabbing were all tied together in one deviously scintillating package.

Now that Season 2 is here, along with a digital screener, I’ve had the pleasure of “sitting on edge” once again. Rhimes has deftly whipped up a new start to this intriguing – outside-the-letter-of-the-law – crisis drama on Capitol Hill.

Without giving away any major spoilers, here are 10 Focus Points to watch out for in the premiere:

– Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) is now a series regular. If you were weary of the First Lady’s motivations in season one, get ready to be dumbfounded in season two. Mrs. Grant harkens back to the days of Sherry Palmer on 24 – minus the nuclear threat.

– Remember that stunning freeze frame with Quinn (Katie Lowes). She is most definitely not who she claimed to be. The truth will have startling implications that will ripple throughout the course of the season.

– We lost our favorite Lost actor. Henry Ian Cusick, who played Stephen Finch, is no longer with Olivia Pope’s (Kerry Washington) team. He served as Olivia’s confidant when it came to relationship issues – because Olivia had a lot of those when it came to the President. Without Finch, Olivia is even more a woman alone, with her own council and rulebook.

– One of our cast members will get a delightful (or maybe not so delightful) new nickname. No spoilers. You will hear it in the first ten minutes.

– Viewers will need to continue to hold their hands on that DVR rewind button. The fast-paced dialogue doesn’t skip a beat. You will need to pay even closer attention this season to pick up on all the subtle jokes as well as those quick turns in an Olivia dialogue battle. Harrison (Columbus Short) and Huck (Guillermo Diaz) have a great exchange.

– Sex and political scandal is still in fashion in Scandal Season 2. And, that’s got Abby (Darby Stanchfield) excited.

– We can look forward to a shift in the relationship between Olivia and David (Joshua Malina). David is putting on his man pants in this season to stand up to Olivia. Our favorite crisis manager may have built up a wall, but expect David to target that wall with a solid offense.

– President Grant (Tony Goldwyn) continues to show off his true colors. Seriously, what does Olivia see in him? The President will get a chance to expose his chauvinist side in the season 2 premiere. Truthfully, he just comes off as a jerk.

– Olivia’s got a dirty new secret. If you thought the presidential affair was a scandal (and that fact that the president’s wife knew about it the whole time), then get ready for something major. Rhimes has laid the seeds for a potential new character as well as the fallout once that character comes to light.

[SOMEWHAT SPOILERY]
– Last season, we learned the truth about Huck’s dark side. We’re going to get even deeper into the origin story of Huck and Olivia as well as the other members of Olivia’s team. Expect trust issues to arise at the home base.

Don’t expect any of the cover-ups to stop. The only thing that solves a good cover-up is another cover up. And, right now, it looks like we’ll be sifting through piles of proverbial “political shit” when Scandal returns.

Scandal Season 2 premieres Thursday, September 27 at 10PM E/P.

Renewals, Pickups and Cancellations Roundup for ABC, NBC, CW and AMC

Dozens of shows learned their fate this week so we’re going to run down the latest as they came in on Friday evening. The headline news included series such as Nikita, Happy Endings, Parks & Rec, Body of Proof, and yes, even Whitney being renewed while NBC’s Awake and Harry’s Law were not.

Make note of how many 13-episode seasons were ordered. The thinking may be that the networks are learning that the cable model does work better, because it 1) allows more shows to be added to the lineup and 2) keeps the interest going through the fall instead of trying to carry the momentum through the holiday breaks. That doesn’t give fans many episodes to be excited about, but in the case of Community, any word of renewal, regardless of number was good news.

Networks could also be thinking the strategy behind 13-episode seasons could be to air during the fall and if ratings quickly justify an additional order of 9 or more episodes, then they have that option, or they could use the winter months to release mid-season replacements.

happy endings cast

ABC
In one of its best moves of the day (and also long-awaited), ABC renewed Happy Endings for a third, 22-episode season. The fast paced comedy got the “ending” fans wanted and will join others already given the thumbs up including Modern Family, Suburgatory, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Grey’s Anatomy, Castle, and The Middle. Don’t Trust The B–— in Apt. 23 and Scandal were renewed earlier today, as did bubble shows, Private Practice and Body of Proof, which each got 13 episode renewals. For Private Practice it is expected to be its last season, while Body of Proof proved to have international appeal–a key factor in many other renewals (Fox’s Touch being another one) around the other networks. Last Man Standing was the last to get its expected renewal at the end of Friday. Cougar Town is moving to TBS.

ABC Pilots ordered to series were 666 Park Ave. with Terry O’Quinn; Zero Hour with Anthony Edwards and Michael Nyqvist; crime series Red Widow (formerly Penoza) with Lee Tergesen and Radha Mitchell; How to Live With Your Parents For the Rest of Your Life with Sarah Chalke, Elizabeth Perkins and Brad Garrett; Family Tools (formerly Red Man Van, White Van Man) with Leah Remini, Kyle Bornheimer, and J.K. Simmons; Last Resort with Andre Braugher, Dichen Lachmen, Autumn Reeser, and Scott Speedman; Neighbors with Jami Gertz; and Malibu Country with Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin.

Those canceled were Ashley Judd’s Taken-like thriller The Missing, CGB, Pan Am, and The River.

NBC
The morning after its season finale, Parks & Rec was given a fifth season and a full order of 22 episodes. Hell froze over because Whitney was officially picked up. Up All Night like Community will be given 13 episodes. NBC has been giving its newer comedies and bubble shows 13 episodes to make room for ten (!) new shows that were picked up for series. Reality series Fashion Star also got a second season because of its immediate advertiser friendly format, especially for Macy’s, H&M, and Saks Fifth Avenue.  The Office was also given another season.

Those new series ordered to series include, 1600 Penn with Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman; Animal Practice with Justin Kirk; Go On with Matthew Perry Laura Benanti and Khary Payton; Guys With Kids with Jesse Bradford and produced by Jimmy Fallon; Dane Cook alpha male comedy Next Caller; Save Me with Anne Heche, the fire-fighting action drama Chicago Fire; a Meagan Good high society soap Infamous; Do No Harm with Steven Pasquale and Phylicia Rashad, and J.J. Abrams’ Revolution starring Billy Burke and Giancarlo Esposito.

One of those unlucky at the Peacock was David E. Kelley’s Harry’s Law, which did not reach a third season. This was a surprise considering it was drawing in an average of 8.8 million viewers. Those are numbers that NBC could use and while it wasn’t a hit with the coveted younger 18-40 demographic, the lead actor, Kathy Bates is in her early 60s and the audience skewed to her fans.

awake banner

Other cancellations included BFF, Are You There, Chelsea, Bent, and procedural mind-bender Awake, which many had hoped would be given another chance. Awake will be missed by its strongest advocates online, as it gave NBC a quality drama with subtle sci-fi elements allowing it to toe the line of genre and police procedural, but it could never generate the ratings needed to make the grade. It was one of the most anticipated series in NBC’s 2011-2012 rollout but lost steam when it was held over as a mid-season replacement. NBC keeps trying to make good dramas, but they just cut one.

CW
It was all love and drama at the CW as it gave Gossip Girl one last season. It might be an abbreviated season though as there’s been no word on how long the season will be. 13 more episodes may be all it gets. Rachel Bilson and Hart of Dixie were picked up for a second season and so was Maggie Q and Nikita. Both shows will get a full order of 22 episodes. Nikita is one of those shows that struggles on Friday nights, but the genre show has plenty of international appeal. These announcements come off the heels of the renewals of its strongest shows, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural and 90210, which were given more life on Thursday. CW shows are getting additional viewings online and DVRs have been friendly to the network too.

nikita

New series pickups include a record five scripted series for the CW: Sex & The City prequel, The Carrie Diaries, mystery drama Cult, medical drama First Cut, the Beauty and the Beast reboot with Kristin Kreuk, and DC Comics’ property Green Arrow-based action series Arrow. With the Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen and The Avengers’ Hawkeye, archers are officially thriving in Hollywood.

But the CW wasn’t so charitable Friday. Given the swift swing of the axe were two first-season shows with poor ratings, modern noir soap Ringer and The Secret Circle despite Kevin Williamson’s involvement.

AMC
The cable network “where story matters,” finally discovered the beauty of low-cost reality shows and gave second seasons to Kevin Smith’s
Comic Book Men, which was basically Pawn Stars in a comic shop, and The Walking Dead companion talk show, The Talking Dead with Chris Hardwick.

‘Scandal': Rhimes’ Helmed Drama of Intrigue & Duplicity on Capitol Hill is a Definite Win

I had a chance to screen the first three episodes of Scandal, the new drama from Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes. But, it didn’t take me three episodes to realize that Scandal, starring Kerry Washington, would be one of the more intriguing new series of 2012.

It took me five minutes.

Scandal

Within the first five-minutes of Scandal’s premiere, viewers are re-introduced to the great dialogue that makes Rhimes such a brilliant showrunner. A simple blind date between Harrison Wright (Columbus Short) and Quinn Rielly (Katie Lowes) turns into a job interview that’s not really a job interview at all. The short segment introduces to the kind of series you’re about to watch, where everything is not as it seems.

Similar to Lie to Me and the presidential segments of 24 (seasons one through five), Scandal is all about introducing several layers of truth. Washington stars as Olivia Pope, a lawyer who runs what appears to be a law firm but is not a law firm at all. She’s in the business of solving crises for high-level clients before those crises become drawn-out court cases. Pope is on the side of right, but that doesn’t always mean that she subscribes to the letter of the law. And, yes, the FBI is “sick” of her.

In Pope’s words, “In this moment we are the judge and we are the jury, the media and the public opinion.”

It’s a procedural series, but the underlying story arc hinges on a major secret in the White House. As the series progresses, you’ll realize just how far this scandal goes.

Rhimes does an excellent job of cramming hefty dialogue into short scenes. Pope is a tough as nails crisis manager, or as Wright would say, a “gladiator in a suit.” Viewers will have to pay close attention to the subtle changes in the dialogue as new discoveries are made, just before another obstacle arises. There’s also a deft balance of comedic moments within the series, thanks to Pope’s unique team. The group’s resident techie Huck (Guillermo Diaz, Weeds) states that everyone on the team needs “fixing” – and, that’s why Pope brought them aboard.

In one instance, the team’s resident charmer, Stephen Finch (Henry Ian Cusick, Lost) is debating whether or not he should propose to his girlfriend indiscriminate of his other sexual relations.

Pope tells him, “You love her she loves you, normal people get married.”
“You won’t date,” Stephen replies.
“I’m not normal,” Pope answers dead pan.

In the first half of the premiere, “Sweet Baby,” you’ll learn that Olivia is rarely wrong because she always follows her “gut,” or what others refer to as her “Spidey sense.” When she questions someone, you can’t help but reminded of Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman in Lie to Me. Coincidentally, Brendan Hines from Lie to Me is a regular in Scandal.

Although Pope rarely falters, she does have one major weakness. She’s had an intimate history with President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn), which will play out throughout the season. It caused her to leave the White House staff, but she can never truly leave the President’s side.

In the words of Michael Corleone, “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”

Washington does an amazing job of switching instantly from an iron exterior to someone who has been made vulnerable through a broken heart.

Based on the first three episodes, Scandal is shaping to be one of the more gritty dramas on network TV. Rhimes knows how to keep the intensity high and the dialogue moving at a steady clip. While there’s no on-camera violence, you do feel the gravity of some of the cases Pope takes on.

You can check out Scandal Thursdays at 10PM E/P on ABC.