*Aja Naomi King has been cast in ABC/ABC Studios’ drama pilot, “How To Get Away With Murder, produced by Shonda Rhimes and her Shondaland partner Betsy Beers.
It’s described as a sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller that follows ambitious law students and their brilliant and mysterious criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot.
King will play one of the law students, the ambitious and confident Michaela Pratt. She also has a recurring role on ABC/ABC Studios’ “The Black Box.”
*The Directors Guild of America today announced that it will honor Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers of Shondaland with the Guild’s 2014 Diversity Award.
The Award is being given for their commitment to diversity hiring, their long record of providing jobs and opportunities to women and minorities in DGA-covered categories, and for the example they set for the rest of the industry. The Award will be presented at the 66th Annual DGA Awards on Saturday, January 25, 2014.
The Diversity Award has only been given four times in its history: in 1997 to Bruce Paltrow, John Wells and Christopher Chulack; in 1999 to Steven Bochco; in 2000 to HBO; and in 2005 to Stephen McPherson.
“The DGA Diversity Award is an exceedingly rare honor, given only when we feel strongly that someone is making a real difference in the hiring of women and minorities,” said DGA President Paris Barclay. “In the decade that Shonda and Betsy have been creating and producing buzzworthy television, their record of diverse hiring has been consistently outstanding at a time when very few television series meet that standard. As a result, they have impacted the careers of dozens of women and minorities – they’ve made stars not only in front of, but behind the camera as well. They’re strong and outspoken advocates for diversity throughout our industry, and we are very proud to recognize them with the DGA’s Diversity Award.”
Rhimes and Beers are partners in Shondaland, the production company founded by Rhimes in 2004. Rhimes is the creator and executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and the recently-concluded “Private Practice.”
Writer Shonda Rhimes arrives at the “Grey’s Anatomy” 200th Episode Celebration at The Colony on September 28, 2013 in Los Angeles
*Shonda Rhimes’ company has set up yet another project at ABC, reports Deadline.
This one, titled “Just Rewards,” is about 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 her Shondaland partner Betsy Beers executive producing. The pilot will be written and co-produced by Paul Downs Colaizzo.
“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.
Kerry Washington and Dan Bucatinsky of ABC’s “Scandal”
*Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland banner just picked up another project.
Dan Bucatinsky, the Emmy-nominated guest star on Rhimes’ “Scandal,” will adapt his best-selling book Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight with an hourlong dramedy project set up at ABC with Shondaland producing.
Bucatinsky — who recurs as James, the husband to the White House chief of staff Cyrus (Jeff Perry) — will write and executive produce “Show & Tell” alongside Rhimes and her Shondaland partner Betsy Beers. In addition to “Scandal,” Bucatinsky also serves as a co-executive producer/writer on Shonda’s other ABC drama “Grey’s Anatomy.”
“Show & Tell” is inspired by Bucatinsky’s Touchstone/Simon & Schuster book — a collection of stories of parenthood — and is described as a fast-paced hourlong dramedy about the lives, loves and scandalous secrets of a group of parents whose kids attend the same school.
Bucatinsky — who has two children with his husband, screenwriter Don Roos — is also behind TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?,” which on Tuesday was renewed for another season. In addition, he’s a writer/executive producer on Showtime’s “Web Therapy” with Lisa Kudrow, who recently booked a season three arc on “Scandal.”
This marks the latest sale this development season for Shondaland. The ABC Studios-based banner also has a cop drama from “Made in Jersey” creator Dana Calvo set up at ABC and “Lawless,” from K.J. Steinberg (Rhimes’ pilot “Gilded Lilys”), also with ABC.
Producer Shonda Rhimes attends Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Presents an Evening with “Scandal” at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre on May 16, 2013 in North Hollywood
*Shondaland, the production company behind “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy” – founded by Shonda Rhimes and co-run with Betsy Beers – has set up its fourth project this development season.
According to Deadline.com, ABC has put in development “How To Get Away With Murder,” from Shondaland and ABC Studios, where the company is based. Written by “Grey’s Anatomy” supervising producer Peter Nowalk, the drama is described as a sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller about a group of ambitious law students and their brilliant, mysterious criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot that will rock their entire university and change the course of their lives.
This is the second consecutive second year that Shondaland is developing with Nowalk, who has been on Rhimes’ “Grey’s Anatomy” since 2008. Last fall, the company sold an FBI drama penned by Nowalk to NBC.
“How To Get Away With Murder” joins three other projects Shondaland has sold to ABC so far this summer, dramas from “Mistresses” developer/executive producer KJ Steinberg and “Made In Jersey” creator Dana Calvo, and a comedy from “Cougar Town” co-executive producers Christine Pietrosh and Jessica Goldstein.
*Shonda Rhimes has churned out another drama for ABC – this one a “part soap, part conspiracy thriller” titled “The Circle.”
The hour-long project, which hails from ABC Studios, follows ten friends, adopted as children by a billionaire philanthropist, who begin to
question their past when one of their own is murdered, notes The Hollywood Reporter.
Richard Robbins will write and executive produce the project, while Rhimes and her producing partner Betsy Beers serve as
non-writing executive producers.
The news marks Shondaland’s fourth sale of the season. The “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” showrunner sold period luxury hotel drama “Gilded Lillys” to ABC with Gossip Girl scribe K.J. Steinberg attached in August.
Last month, the network also picked up an untitled drama project from Rhimes protégé Jenna Bans (“Off the Map”) revolving around a
young, idealistic and recently fired defense lawyer who struggles to start his own firm.
More recently, she sold “Wildwood,” which revolves around a wise-beyond-her-years teenager who poses as an adult in order to land a job at a bar on the Jersey Shore in Wildwood, N.J., to Fox.