Eleven months after she shook up the TV industry with her game-changing Netflix deal, Shonda Rhimes has unveiled a slate of eight series that she has put in development at the streaming giant via her Shondaland banner. The slate runs the gamut from dramas to comedy (Sunshine Scout) to documentary (Hot Chocolate Nutcracker), from contemporary U.S. to 1840 Mexican-ruled state of California (Pico & Sepulveda) to 1813 London (Bridgerton), with most scripted projects based on source material. That is a departure from Shondaland’s portfolio at ABC, which has consisted primarily of original concepts, including the company’s top series, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, both created by Rhimes — and How To Get Away with Murder.
In Rhimes’ return to Washington and the White House where her Scandal was set, she is producing The Residence, based on Kate Andersen Brower’s 2016 nonfiction book The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House, an inside look into the lives of the First families — from the Kennedys to the Obamas — through the eyes of their staffers.
One of the eight series will be created by Rhimes, the previously announced untitled Anna Delvey project, based on New York Magazine article about con artist Anna Delvey.
The slate touches on social issues with a series project based on Ellen Pao’s memoir Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Chang, about her gender discrimination suit against former employer Kleiner Perkins, which exposed gender disparity in Silicon Valley’s hiring and promotion practices.
Also on the slate are Isabel Wilkerson’s award-winning book The Warmth of Other Suns, which will be adapted by Anna Deavere Smith, currently the artist-in-residence at the Center for American Progress; and documentary Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, about Debbie Allen Dance Academy’s famous annual reimagining of The Nutcracker.
“I wanted the new Shondaland to be a place where we expand the types of stories we tell, where my fellow talented creatives could thrive and make their best work and where we as a team come to the office each day filled with excitement,” said Rhimes. “Ted (Sarandos) and Cindy (Holland) and everyone at Netflix have been incredible partners in making that happen. This is Shondaland 2.0.”
Added Cindy Holland, VP, Original Content, Netflix, “It’s been thrilling to begin this journey with Shonda, Betsy (Beers) and their team and watch them embrace the full range of creative freedom possible at Netflix. Infused with Shonda’s sensibility, the Shondaland slate is shaping up to be something truly special that we know will delight our members around the world.”
Here are details about all eight Shondaline projects (all titles are working titles):
Untitled Shonda Rhimes Project — Based on the New York Magazine article How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People by Jessica Pressler. Manhattan makes a new friend like no other. But is she the stuff American dreams are made of or is she New York’s biggest con woman? Is it a con if you enjoy being taken? Rhimes is creator and will executive produce.
Untitled Bridgerton Project — Based on Julia Quinn’s best-selling series of novels, this smart feminist take on Regency England romance unveils the glittering, wealthy, sexual, painful, funny and sometimes lonely lives of the women and men in London’s high society marriage mart as told through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family. Scandal veteran Chris Van Dusen (EP) will adapt and showrun the series.
The Warmth of Other Suns — Based on Pulitzer-Prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson’s award-winning book of the same name, the series tracks the decades-long migration of African-Americans fleeing the Jim Crow South in search of a better life in the North and the West between 1916 and 1970. Playwright Anna Deavere Smith is set to adapt and executive produce.
Pico & Sepulveda — Set in the 1840s against the surreal and sensual backdrop of the then-Mexican state of California, the series tracks the end of an idyllic era there as American forces threaten brutality and war at the border to claim this breathtaking land for its own. Emmy-winning writer Janet Leahy will create and executive produce the series.
Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change– Netflix and Shondaland have acquired the rights to Ellen Pao’s groundbreaking memoir detailing her life and career, including the lawsuit she brought against her former employer that sparked intense media scrutiny, shook Silicon Valley to its boys’ club core and pre-saged the Time’s Up movement.
The Residence — Netflix and Shondaland have acquired the rights to Kate Andersen Brower’s brilliant nonfiction book The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House, which offers a vividly accurate insider’s account of White House residence staffers and the upstairs downstairs lives they share with the First Families at one of the most famous homes in history.
Sunshine Scouts — In this darkly comedic half-hour series, an apocalyptic disaster spares a rag-tag group of teenage girls at sleepaway camp who must then summon their moxie and survival skills to weather the fallout and ensure all that remains of humanity abides by the Sunshine Scout Law. Writer/actress Jill Alexander will create the series and co-executive produce.
Hot Chocolate Nutcracker — The documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy’s award-winning reimagining of the classic ballet, The Nutcracker. This staged contemporization – with its inclusive cast of all ages and its blend of dance traditions – has further cemented Debbie Allen’s legacy as one of the greatest forces for good in dance. Oliver Bokelberg (DP/Director Scandal) will serve as director, cinematographer and producer.
“From the world of Regency England all the way to present day Manhattan, we at Shondaland have a wonderful opportunity to explore new worlds and tell these stories in many different ways,” said Shondaland’s Betsy Beers. “We are fortunate to be working with such an inspiring group of talent, including our amazing creative team at Netflix. I could not be more thrilled!”
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