Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes dismissed all questions that in any way tried to equate or connect this country’s election outcome, and Donald Trump’s administration, with her ABC White House drama, despite best efforts by headline-seeking TV critics at TCA.
Maybe it’s because, in late November, after Donald Trump’s election, a new Scandal Season 6 tagline was unveiled “The balance of power is about to shift.” Another promo promised Rhimes show return this month would “live up to the hype” within the first 10 minutes. TCA attendees were reminded this morning that, in the season debut, election results are announced and the shocking results lead to an explosive outcome.
‘Does this confirm Shonda is psychic?” one TV critic asked. “I don’t know there are any similarities,” Shonda responded, saying neither of her show’s two presidential candidates bore any resemblance to Trump. “These candidates don’t equate, so I don’t think you can correlate the two.”
“If that had been the goal I would have waited until after the election” to begin producing Season 6, which already had five episodes in the can by election night.
Rhimes said the producers and writers have laid out this season to be very different than seasons past. After those first few minutes, it will be a “stepping back in time.”
“It’s not necessarily about the crazy things happening,” she said. The season will look at where the characters have come to at this point in time, which Rhimes described as a descent from the moral high ground to “depths.” This season will be their “chance to reflect.”
“It’s very different than any season we’ve had. We can’t judge it against what we’ve one before, or in terms of what’s going on now.”
During Trump’s candidacy and certainly since the election, there has been a certain amount of navel lint gazing among TV criticsd as to whether even TV’s most wonderfully unhinged White House dramas – Scandal, House of Cards, etc. – can keep up with the Drama and spleen of a Donald Trump White House.
Asked if he thought Scandal could survive and thrive during a Trump administration, Josh Malina, who also starred in NBC’s White House drama The West Wing, insisted that hit drama, while initially aired during the final years of Bill Clinton’s administration, continued to be a “big hit” into George W. Bush’s administration.
(Bill Clinton was sworn in on January 20, 1993 and his administration ended on January 20, 2001. The West Wing originally broadcast on NBC from September 22, 1999, to May 14, 2006.)
Members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association came to today’s TCA to ask Rhimes whether she would make a speech like Meryl Streep’s headline grabber at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, for which she got verbally punched by Trump ono Twitter. They also wanted to know whether Rhimes worried that speeches like Streep’s only served to make Trump “stronger.”
“I haven’t given that any thought at all, because I’m not Meryl Streep,” Rhimes shot back, adding, “although how much fun would that be.”
“I don’t spend time thinking about what makes Trump stronger,” added Rhimes, who was participating via satellite.
Rhimes also got asked if a Donald Trump White House made her want to devote even more energy to leaning into “celebrating inclusion” that is “under attack in our world moving forward.”
“I’m hesitating,” Rhimes said, because the question implied she has to make a plan, or an effort, to do what she considers the behavior of “being a normal human being.”
Malina got asked if he worries his outspoken comments on social media hurt Scandal in any way. “I worry if I’m ever going to work with Tom Hiddleston,” Malina shot back, insisting, “one of the great joys of being criminally under-rated as an actor” is that he can live on line “below the radar.”
Malina was among those blasting Hiddleston for his acceptance speech when he won for Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Motion Picture for his performance in The Night Manager. The actor said that, while doing humanitarian work in South Sudan with the United Nations Children’s Fund a group medics told him that, during the shelling the previous month, they had binge-watched the series, saying the idea the show could provide some relief and entertainment “for people who are fixing the world…made me immensely proud.”
“Thank you to Tom Hiddleston and all actors who dare to perform in projects that are shown in some of the most dangerous parts of he world,” Malina snarked on Twitter.
Some TCA members questioned wether ABC’s announcement one day earlier that it was postponing the already-promoted return of Shonda’s TGIT lineup, including Scandal, by one week, citing a 20/20 interview with Trump.
“I don’t have anything to do with…scheduling, or spend much time caring about it,” she deflected. When asked how the network broke it to her, she said, bluntly, “I’m not going to comment on a conversation I had with my boss” because, she explained, she likes her job.
Rhimes produced the short film that introduced Hillary Clinton the night she closed out the Demo, featuring testimonials from President Obama, former POTUS Bill Clinton, etc.