Shonda Rhimes is the most powerful woman in television now. In fact, she’s one of the 50 most powerful women in the world. She owns the entire ABC Thursday night primetime block now, and that is unprecedented. Grey’s Anatomy is still going strong, somehow, ten seasons into its run; Scandal is one of the most popular shows in social media, going into its 4th season; and last night, Rhimes launched her latest, How to Get Away with Murder, which is basically Donna Tartt’s Secret Garden set in law school (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Rhimes can do no wrong, but that wasn’t always the case.
In 2002, Shonda Rhimes wrote the screenplay for one of the worst films of the year. In fact, she was nominated for a Razzie, as was the movie itself. The lead actress in the movie — making her screen debut — won the Razzie for her depiction of Lucy Wagner. Also in the movie: Justin Long, Zoe Saldana, Kim Cattrall, Dan Aykroyd, and Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels).
I speak, of course, of Britney Spears’ magnus opus, Crossroads, which was was described by James Sanford at the Kalamazoo Gazette as “a rejected ABC Afterschool Special, freshened up by the dunce of a Screenwriting 101 class. …provokes a handful of unintentional howlers and numerous yawns.” Roger Ebert wrote of it, “I went to Crossroads expecting a glitzy bimbofest and got the bimbos but not the fest.” It scored a whopping 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (which is actually higher than I expected).
But, and here’s the kicker: It was a $60 million box-office success, and led to another screenwriting gig for Rhimes, the screenplay for Princess Diaries 2 (which was not a box-office hit).
All of this just goes to show you that, if Shonda Rhimes can come back from writing one of the worst screenplays of the year to go on to become the most powerful woman in television, she can do anything! In fact, this actually bodes well for two of last year’s winners for worst screenplays at the Razzies: Bob Odenkirk and James Gunn, who won for writing terrible sketches for Movie 43. James Gunn just went on to make the highest grossing film of the year (Guardians of the Galaxy), while Odenkirk will play the lead in the most anticipated show of 2015, Better Call Saul.
Shonda Rhimes, by the way, lost to George Lucas (Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones) for worst screenplay that year.