/// Upfront Upheaval: ABC Creates an All-Shonda Rhimes Thursday Block

May 13, 2014  |  Media Week

It’s Shonda Rhimes’ world ; everyone else just lives in it. The creator of the ABC franchise drama Grey’s Anatomy and the scorching Beltway caper Scandal is getting her very own night, as the network is slotting her new series, How to Get Away with Murder, in the Thursday 10 p.m. slot. Scandal will take a step back to 9 p.m., thereby pushing Grey’s Anatomy to 8 p.m. 

 Rhimes on Tuesday signed a four-year contract extension that will keep her at ABC Studios through May 2018. (Interestingly enough, ABC has a history of going all-in on a single producer, having stacked three Aaron Spelling shows together on Saturday nights back in the early 1980s. The answer to that particular trivia question: T.J. Hooker, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island.)

 Written by executive producer Peter Nowalk, How to Get Away with Murder stars Viola Davis as a law professor who gets into all sorts of entanglements with four of her students. While the show would appear to have a clear path to victory, what with Rhimes’ bona fides and a fairly weak competitive set—Murder goes up against NBC’s low-rated Parenthood and (presumably), CBS’ Elementary—it will face a greater challenge in February, when the Peacock shifts The Blacklist to the Thursday 10 p.m. slot. Meanwhile, having propped up no fewer than eight comedies over the last four seasons, Modern Family is getting yet another lead-out in Black-ish , a family comedy starring Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne. (Comedy Central recently named Black-ish showrunner Larry Wilmore as the successor to Stephen Colbert.) Along with Murder and the new comedies Fresh Off the Boat and Cristela, Black-ish represents ABC’s commitment to develop programming that reflects the diverse viewing population. Black-ish beat out Kevin Hart’s multi-camera pilot,


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