NEW YORK (AP) — ABC will add a new drama from Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy powerhouse producer Shonda Rhimes to its schedule in the fall, giving her ownership of Thursday night on a network that’s lagging behind its competitors among advertiser-favored young adults.
Rhimes’ How to Get Away With Murder, a legal thriller starring Viola Davis, is among 12 new series that will occupy an ABC schedule that’s heavy on crime dramas and rich in ethnic diversity.
Rhimes is “one of the greatest voices on television,” ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee said last week before the network presented its new schedule to advertisers.
Grey’s Anatomy will move to 8 p.m. Thursday, followed by Scandal at 9 p.m. How to Get Away With Murder will close out the evening at 10 p.m. That will bolster what has been a weak 8 p.m. slot for ABC and give the new drama a strong launching pad, Lee said.
Scandal will air opposite NBC’s hit series The Blacklist later in the new season, but Lee said he’s confident his series will stand up to the challenge.
Medical soap opera Grey’s Anatomy can be racy, but Lee said it will have appropriate content for the first hour of prime time, traditionally home for more family-friendly programming.
ABC, known for its multi-ethnic casts, is adding shows focused primarily on non-white characters or with minority creators – something often missing from major broadcast networks.
The new sitcoms include Black-ish, starring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross as a suburban family trying to embrace their African-American identity.
Laurence Fishburne, who plays dad to Anderson’s character in Black-ish, called the sitcom “authentic and relevant” during an appearance at ABC’s presentation.
He also used humor to sell the show to advertisers, saying if they like Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan or listened to Motown, you might be a little blackish.
John Ridley, Oscar-winning writer of 12 Years a Slave created the gritty American Crime, a drama about a murder with racial overtones.
ABC hits Modern Family and Scandal have benefited from their inclusivity, Lee said.
“America has changed,” he said. “We see that in the election cycle and we see that in everything.”