Network television looks to become more than a bit prettier after this upcoming pilot season. CW's latest hour-long dramedy series, Hart of Dixie, may star The O.C. alumni Rachel Bilson, and Shonda Rhimes' new drama (tentatively titled In Crisis) will feature another television veteran in the form of Boston Legal gal Kerry Washington.
Bilson is currently negotiating to star in CW's Dixie pilot, with Gossip Girl creators Schwartz and Stephanie Savage tackling executive producer duties. Washington is already a lock for the new show penned by Rhimes, her third ABC drama after Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice.
Deadline has the scoop on Bilson circling the lead in Hart of Dixie, a series that centers around a young New York doctor (Bilson's role - don't laugh) who must transition to life in a quaint but eccentric town down South - when she inherits a medical practice there. That Doc Hollywood setup is the basis for the pilot's script by Leila Gerstein, a staff writer whose portfolio includes work on Gossip Girl, Eli Stone, and The O.C. That information alone is a good indicator of what viewers can expect from this new CW show.
Word about Washington landing the lead role of In Crisis also comes via Deadline, who say that Rhimes made the not-so-common move of specifically writing the show's protagonist as an African-American woman. Washington's character will be that of professional "fixer" Olivia Price, a figure based off real-life crisis management consultant Judy Smith, and who's also described as being "something of a legend, a formidable, driven, insightful, intuitive and fearless woman."
Bilson has basically been stuck playing eye candy in Hollywood productions since her O.C. days, appearing opposite the likes of Hayden Christensen (Jumper) and Zach Braff (The Last Kiss) - so she stands to benefit from returning to the small screen for a project where she won't get second billing behind a male lead. As to whether Hart of Dixie will actually be worth checking out... that remains to be seen for now.
Washington, by comparison, is more of a character actress who has also delivered non-showy but solid supporting performances in films like Ray, The Last King of Scotland, and most recently Tyer Perry's For Colored Girls. Rhimes' previous shows have been predisposed to soap opera antics, as well as general personal/relationship melodrama, so there's little reason to doubt that Washington's In Crisis "fixer" won't have to jump through a lot of emotional hoops as well.
Will you be watching either Hart of Dixie or In Crisis when they premiere this upcoming fall?