Shonda Rhimes has a history of brushing off questions at Television Critics Assn. press tour panels. Last week, she was able to apply her well-honed skills to multiple questions about President-elect Donald Trump.
Asked during a panel for her ABC show “Scandal” how the new season — which premieres Jan. 26 — reflects post-election reality, executive producer Rhimes shut the question down.
“There aren’t any similarities,” she said.
“Scandal” ended last season with an election cliffhanger involving a female candidate, so the idea of a parallel is not far off base. But throughout the first week of TCA, questions about Trump and national politics dominated — sometimes to the consternation of producers and executives fielding those questions, but sometimes not.
At the panel for CBS All Access’ “The Good Fight,” co-creator Robert King spoke about how the election had affected the show. King and his wife, co-creator Michelle, rewrote scenes from the series premiere after Trump’s victory, and even altered a scene so that Christine Baranski’s character would be shown watching coverage of Trump’s inauguration on television.
The Trump presidency, King added, will “give shape to a new show.” His former series, “The Good Wife,” from which the new show is spun off, “was a satire … of the liberal mindset,” he said. The new show is “not just anti-Trump. It’s also looking at how liberals are reacting.”
Dustin Lance Black, whose upcoming ABC miniseries “When We Rise” chronicles the dawn of the gay-rights movement, said his show has become a target of far-right vitriol online. But he countered one reporter’s assertion that the show would be watched only by “the accepting half” of the U.S. television audience.
“I think there are a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump who will love this show, and so I don’t see this as a show that’s only trying to speak to half the country,” Black said. “That’s not what this show is about. I didn’t write this show for half a country. I think if Donald Trump actually watches this show, he might like it.”
Lee Daniels, creator of “Star” on Fox, said he set out to make a program with a multiracial cast and transgender character because he “foresaw where we would be right now.”
CW president Mark Pedowitz kicked off his executive session Jan. 8 by joking that he was “not competing this morning, thank God, with any presidential-elect tweet.”
That evening, Meryl Streep gave her impassioned speech at the Golden Globe Awards, which fueled Trump-related TCA questions in the days that followed. Those questions did not always make sense. When Rhimes appeared flummoxed by a French journalist who asked if she would ever give a speech like Streep’s, and whether such a speech “can make Trump stronger,” “Scandal” star Kerry Washington jumped in, praising the way Rhimes has spoken in the past on issues of diversity in the entertainment industry, as she did in her acceptance speech at the 2016 Producers Guild Awards.
Not everyone was wringing their hands over the election’s outcome. Fox’s new drama “APB” follows a Chicago police precinct that’s taken over by an eccentric billionaire wielding advanced crime-fighting technology. Co-creator and executive producer Matt Nix appeared to invite Trump supporters to embrace the show.
“I think that the most powerful statement to make right now is, ‘Hey, if you’re on this side of this issue and you believe that what America needs is a businessman taking things over and telling everybody what’s what, great, we’ve got a vision where we think this could be done responsibly and in an important way,’” Nix said.
One of Trump’s most fraught media relationships is with NBC, his former partner on the Miss Universe pageant and continued partner on “The New Celebrity Apprentice.”
When NBC hosts the final day of TCA on Jan. 18, it will not present a “Celebrity Apprentice” panel.