Thursdays, 10:00-11:00 p.m., ET/PT
SHONDA RHIMES, creator and executive producer
Shonda Rhimes is the creator and executive producer of the ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice” and “Scandal.” For her work on “Private Practice,” Rhimes was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series in 2008, and won in the category in 2011. In its debut season, “Private Practice” was nominated for a 2008 People’s Choice Award in the category of Favorite New TV Drama. For her work on “Grey’s Anatomy,” Rhimes received the 2007 Television Producer of the Year by the Producers Guild of America, the 2007 Golden Globe for Outstanding Television Drama, the 2007 Lucy Award for Excellence in Television from Women in Film, the 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series, the 2006 Writers Guild Award for Best New Series, in addition to Emmy
nominations for Outstanding Drama Series and Writing for a Drama Series. Rhimes was also the recipient of the 2012 GLAAD Golden Gate Award, 2010 RAINN Hope Award and a 2009 GLSEN Respect Awards Honoree.
Aside from her success with network television, Rhimes wrote the feature film “Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement,” released in August 2004 by Disney. Additionally her original script, “Crossroads,” was released in 2002 by Paramount. She also co-wrote “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” produced by HBO and nominated for numerous awards -- and for which Halle Berry won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for Best Actress in a miniseries for her portrayal of Dandridge. In 2004 Rhimes created her production company, Shondaland.
Rhimes worked as research director on the Tollin-Robbins/Mundy Lane documentary “Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream.” It was nominated for an Emmy Award, an Academy Award and won the Peabody as well as the NAACP Image Award. She has been a guest speaker at the USC School of Cinema-Television, where she taught a course in scene writing.
Rhimes holds a BA from Dartmouth College in English literature with creative writing. As director of Dartmouth’s Black Underground Theatre and Arts Association, her work earned numerous awards for excellence. She received her MFA from the USC School of Cinema-Television, where she was awarded the prestigious Gary Rosenberg Writing Fellowship.
The child of educators, Rhimes blames her parents for her rampant addiction to books. The youngest of six, she was born and raised outside of Chicago, IL, and now resides in Los Angeles with her two daughters.
BETSY BEERS, executive producer
Betsy Beers is executive producer on the ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice” and “Scandal.” For her work on “Grey’s Anatomy,” Beers and her fellow producers were awarded the 2007 Producer of the Year Award from the Producers Guild of America, the 2007 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series Drama, and received 2006 and 2007 Emmy nominations for Outstanding Drama Series. Beers has been nominated three times by the Producers Guild of America for their Television Producer of the Year Award. “Grey’s Anatomy”has also won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series and a Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Series.
Beers partnered with Shonda Rhimes and her company, Shondaland, to develop and produce additional feature film and television projects in 2009. Most recently she, along with Shondaland, has executive-produced the new hit political drama “Scandal” for ABC, chronicling the life of Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), who has dedicated herself to protecting and defending the public images of the nation’s elite.
Before her exclusive foray into television, Beers was president of the Mark Gordon Company, where she oversaw the development and production of its feature film and television projects, including the development of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Additionally, she produced the feature films “The Hoax,” starring Richard Gere, and “Casanova,” starring Heath Ledger, both films directed by Lasse Hallström.
Previously Beers was president of director Mike Newell’s Dogstar Films, where she produced the films “200 Cigarettes,” starring a stellar young cast including Ben Affleck, Dave Chapelle and Kate Hudson, and “Best Laid Plans,” starring Reese Witherspoon. She also developed such films as the cult movie “High Fidelity,” directed by Stephen Frears and starring John Cusack, as well as “Pushing Tin,” with Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett and Angelina Jolie. Beers also served as executive producer on the movies “Safe Passage,” with Susan Sarandon, and “Witchhunt,” starring Dennis Hopper, with producer Gale Ann Hurd.
JUDY SMITH, co-executive producer
Judy A. Smith is founder and president of Smith & Company, a leading strategic and crisis communications firm with offices in Washington DC and Los Angeles. Over the last 25 years she has brought her unique combination of communication skills, media savvy, legal and political acumen to clients facing a wide array of issues and challenges throughout the U.S. and abroad. Smith honed her skills with some of the most historic events of our time, including the Iran Contra investigation, the prosecution of Marion Barry, the Los Angeles riots, the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the Enron inquiry. Known for her expertise as a crisis management advisor, she has served as a consultant for such high profile, celebrity and entertainment clients as Monica Lewinsky, Idaho Senator Craig, Wesley Snipes, Michael Vick and the family of Chandra Levy. Smith also serves as a counselor to Fortune 500 corporations and has provided strategic advice on issues such as mergers and acquisitions, product recalls, intellectual property litigation and more.
In the world of professional sports, over the last decade Smith has been involved in legal matters concerning NBA players Kobe Bryant, Chris Webber and Juwan Howard, the NFL’s Donte Stallworth and MLB’s Gary Sheffield. She was also a key strategist in the successful defense of former New Jersey Net Jayson Williams.
Smith continues to be involved in domestic policy issues and has worked with federal agencies and organizations on challenges including the housing crisis, childhood obesity, education and economic development. Internationally she has provided counsel to several heads of state and executives of major corporations on matters in the Philippines, Haiti, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos Islands and Zimbabwe (Save Zimbabwe Campaign), and assisted the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s leadership with its communication efforts as part of the War on Terrorism.
Prior to founding Smith & Company, Smith was a partner at several Washington DC-based public relations firms. Before that, she served as Senior Vice-President of Corporate Communications at NBC, responsible for the network’s global communications strategy. Additionally, she helped with the groundbreaking launch of MSNBC.
In 1991 Smith joined the White House as Special Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary to President George H. W. Bush, providing the President and his Cabinet with communications advice on a wide range of foreign and domestic issues. Earlier she served as an Assistant United States Attorney and was Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney of the District of Columbia, overseeing legal and communications work on high profile criminal and civil cases. From 1987-89 she was Associate Counsel and Deputy Director of Public Information in the Office of the Independent Counsel, Lawrence E. Walsh, where she managed legal as well as national and international public information for the Iran Contra prosecution of Oliver North, John Poindexter and other defendants.
Smith has been featured in the Washington Post, National Journal, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune and Fast Company, and writes regularly on current events for the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast. As a commentator and crisis management expert, she appears on such television networks as CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, NBC, ABC and CBS, and also lectures on crisis management before corporate boards, academic institutions and other professional groups.
Prior to her legal career, Smith worked as a writer and public affairs specialist in Washington, DC. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations from Boston University and graduated from the American University Washington College of Law, where she was the first African-American woman to serve as Executive Editor of the Law Review.
Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC’s hit television dramas “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” developed a television drama about the world of crisis management inspired by Smith. “Scandal” revolves around the life and work of a professional fixer. Smith serves as co- executive producer and provides insight and technical expertise on crisis management issues.
The author of the book Good Self, Bad Self,published by Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Smith has received numerous communications and leadership awards and is active in community service.