Reba McEntire Soap From 'Desperate Housewives' Creator Scores ABC Pilot Pickup

The untitled Marc Cherry project marks the network's first drama pilot order of the season.
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Cherry, left, and McEntire

ABC is not wasting any time getting a jump on pilot season.

While most networks are eagerly waiting for scripts to come in following yet another late start to development season, the Disney-owned network has handed out its first drama pilot order of the season. Scoring that designation is an untitled soap from Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry, starring Reba McEntyre.

The drama revolves around Ruby Adair (McEntire), the sheriff of colorful small town Oxblood, Ky., who finds her Red State outlook challenged when a young FBI agent of Middle Eastern descent is sent to help her solve a horrific crime. Together they form an uneasy alliance as Ruby takes the agent behind the lace curtains of this Southern gothic community to meet an assortment of bizarre characters, each with a secret of their own.

The logline marks a subtle change from when the drama was first announced a month ago, when it did not feature any sort of Red State or political affiliation reference.

The drama landed at ABC in a competitive situation. Cherry will pen the script and exec produce the ABC Studios drama alongside McEntire, Cherry's longtime producing partner Sabrina Wind — who will oversee for the duo's Cherry-Wind Productions banner — with Acme Productions' Mindy Schultheis and Michael Hanel also on board to exec produce.

The project brings Cherry back to ABC following Desperate Housewives and back to producers ABC Studios following Lifetime's Devious Maids. For McEntire, the effort marks her first dramatic role and latest for ABC following multicamera comedy Malibu Country.

"I am thrilled to be coming back home to ABC," Cherry said. "What makes it all the sweeter is Reba McEntire is coming with me. And we can't wait to share with our fans this wonderful Southern Gothic soap opera we've been cooking up for them."

The Cherry/McEntire drama comes as more projects are being set up this development season with stars attached in a bid to land top talent before the competitive rush of pilot season when more than 80 dramas and comedies are vying for the same stars.

The drama marks ABC's second official pilot order of the season and joins political family comedy Libby & Malcolm, starring Felicity Huffman and Courtney B. Vance 

Both pilots have broad appeal as networks scramble post-development orders to ensure their offerings reach a larger audience in a post-Trump America. ABC Entertainment chief Channing Dungey recently acknowledged that the rise of Trump and his blue-collar support forced her to question whether her programming was too focused on upper-income brackets.

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