Katey Sagal has signed on for the title role in Rebel, a drama inspired by the life of activist Erin Brockovich today, which has received a pilot order at ABC. Executive produced by Brockovich, Rebel hails from Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 executive producer/showrunner Krista Vernoff, Davis Entertainment, Sony Pictures TV and ABC Studios.
Sagal had been the most sought after actress at ABC in the early stages of 2020 pilot season. The network had been high on the Sons of Anarchy and Married… with Children alumna since last season when it ordered her comedy starring vehicle Nana to pilot. The project did not go but ABC remained in business with Sagal, tapping her for arcs on Grand Hotel and The Conners. And this month, I hear ABC brass sent Sagal virtually all of their hottest scripts for her to choose from. She picked Rebel.
The Erin Brockovich drama, which had a put pilot commitment, had been a frontrunner for a pilot order by ABC and had recently gotten a blinking green light contingent on casting the lead.
Written by Vernoff, Rebel centers on Annie “Rebel” Bello (Sagal), a blue-collar legal advocate without a law degree. A funny, messy, brilliant and fearless woman who cares desperately about the causes she fights for and the people she loves. When Rebel applies herself to a fight she believes in, she will win at almost any cost.
Vernoff executive produces through her Trip the Light banner alongside Brockovich, Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox as well as Trip the Light’s Alexandre Schmitt. Davis’ Mike Stein is Co-Producer. Sony Pictures TV, where Davis Entertainment previously had a deal, co-produces with ABC Studios, where Vernoff is under an overall deal.
This marks Davis Entertainment’s second 2020 broadcast pilot order, joining drama Echo at NBC through the company’s overall deal at Universal TV. Additionally, the company’s CBS drama Equalizer with Queen Latifah has been heating up for a pickup.
ABC, Davis Entertainment, Sony TV and ABC Studios originally developed an Erin Brockovich project last season with a different writer. While the script did not move forward, ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke remained a fan of the idea. Vernoff, one of the network’s top showrunners, came on board with a new take, which everyone loved.
Brockovich was played on screen by Julia Roberts in the 2000 Steven Soderbergh movie Erin Brockovich, which earned the actress an Oscar.
Sagal, whose series credits also include ABC’s 8 Simple Rules and CBS’ Superior Donuts, is repped by WME and B&B Management.
At ABC, Rebel joins drama pilots thirtysomething(else), The Brides and Harlem’s Kitchen.