Netflix kicked off a content arms race last year when it secured an exclusive deal with Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes. Although subsequently topped by Ryan Murphy’s $300 million arrangement, Rhimes’ $100 million deal is potentially more disruptive to the overall television ecosystem.
Rhimes remains one of the brightest stars still shining in the broadcast network business as ABC’s matriarch of Thursday night primetime. Her production company Shondaland was one of the largest suppliers to the Disney-owned network.
At the time of the deal, she called the SVOD service a “fearless space for creators” that had a “singular sense of innovation” and offered “instantaneous global reach”. She also produced Still Star-Crossed in Spain. “Working outside of the States is something I have always wanted to do,” Rhimes told me last year.
While best known for her soapy dramas, Rhimes has always had an interest in a wide variety of genres. Her first TV pilot for ABC was a story about four female war correspondents, and it’s likely that she will work across different genres during her multi-year deal with Netflix.
She’s also a big sci-fi fan—British drama Doctor Who is her favorite show—and she’s interested in making a full-on action series. “I’d like to do something about girls with guns, a bit deeper than what’s been done before, with an overly hot girl kicking someone’s butt,” she told me during her last trip to Cannes.
The lack of length requirements is also a major boon for such a disruptive force, who highlights the idea of producing episodes that range from 15 minutes to 90 minutes.
And Rhimes also lays claim to a piece of the feature pie. She started her career as a screenwriter, penning Crossroads and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. She would also like to direct and could helm When Willows Touch, a project that’s been gestating with Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
Shondaland also looks to shake things up in other mediums. Earlier this month, the company launched a number of podcasts including Katie’s Crib, featuring Katie Lowes (Scandal) discussing motherhood, and Betsy Beers’ generation gap show Geri & Milli.
It will be interesting to see what Rhimes, who is repped by ICM Partners and attorney Michael Gendler, disrupts next.
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