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.
How To Get Away With Murder, from Shondaland and ABC Studios, where the company is based, was written by Nowalk. Described as a sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller, the project is about a group of ambitious law students and their brilliant, mysterious criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot that will rock the entire university and change the course of their lives. Nowalk, Rhimes and Beers executive produce. These are the latest early pilot orders at ABC this season, joining comedies An American Education, Galavant and Irreversible, also produced by Sony TV.