ABC continues to be ahead of the broadcast pack on pilot orders this season. The network has handed out its third 2017 pilot order to a legal drama from Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers’ Shondaland and ABC Studios. The project, written by a Shonaland writer-producer, Scandal’s Paul William Davies, was a lock for a pickup. Like another early ABC pilot order, comedy Malcolm & Libby, produced by Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, the untitled Paul Davies drama too had a big production commitment and comes from a top talent on ABC Studios’ roster.
Set in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Federal Court, aka “The Mother Court,” the legal drama follows brand new lawyers working for both the defense and the prosecution as they handle the most high profile and high stakes cases in the country – all as their personal lives intersect.
Davies wrote the script and executive produces with Rhimes and Beers.
Shondaland is ABC’s top supplier with five drama series — Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away with Murder, The Catch and the upcoming Still Star-Crossed. With such a large drama portfolio, the company made comedy a focus in development this season and also has a single-camera half-hour comedy from Sex and the City alumna Liz Tuccillo in consideration at ABC.
This is the first pilot season for Shondaland since its dramatic expansion last summer and fall as the company transformed itself to a fully functioning pod with its own infrastructure via six executive hires and promotions.
In addition to the Paul Davies drama and comedy Malcolm & Libby, ABC has picked up a Marc Cherry Kentucky dramedy starring Reba McEntire and has the straight-to-series Marvel drama The Inhumans for next fall.