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Shonda Rhimes Returns to Movies With Sony's 'War Correspondents' (Exclusive)

The "Scandal" creator will write the screenplay for the drama, reteaming with "Grey's Anatomy" producer Mark Gordon. Rhimes' longtime collaborator Betsy Beers is also on board to produce.

Mark Gordon Shonda Rhimes Split - H 2013
Sony/ Brigitte Sire
Mark Gordon and Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is returning to feature films.

The creator behind ABC's top drama Grey's Anatomy and third-year hit Scandal is going back to where her career began to pen the drama War Correspondents for Sony's Columbia Pictures, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.

Rhimes, who started her career in Hollywood penning movies Crossroads and The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement, will write the script for the drama about a number of female war correspondents. Her Shondaland partner Betsy Beers will executive produce alongside Mark Gordon.

"Shonda's unparalleled story sense — especially when it comes to stories about women forging their way in traditionally male professions — made this project irresistible," said Hannah Minghella, president of production at Columbia Pictures, in a statement to THR. "Shonda first explored the idea of a story about female war correspondents for television, but over the years, it's become a much bigger story and we're thrilled that she sees a way to do it on the big screen. She has a great take on the material and we have a consummate producer on board with Gordon and believe this will make a terrific feature film."

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War reteams Rhimes with prolific producer Gordon, who via his Mark Gordon Co. banner executive produces Grey's Anatomy and its spinoff Private Practice, which ended its six-season run earlier this year.

Minghella and Rachel O'Connor will oversee for Columbia. Rhimes' producing partner Beers will oversee via their ABC Studios-based Shondaland banner. Michele Wolkoff is on board to supervise the project on behalf of the Mark Gordon Co. War also reteams Beers with Gordon. Before she teamed with Rhimes, she oversaw development of film and TV ventures as president at The Mark Gordon Co.           

Rhimes, Beers and Gordon first developed the idea for TV before Grey's Anatomy, but the project stalled when the Iraq War began. Rhimes hinted that the project could be revived in a May interview with The New York Times, noting she wanted to do a show about "a woman carrying a gun and kicking people's butts" in the vein of J.J. Abrams' Alias. “I would have loved to have been the person who came up with it. I don’t think it's been done by a woman. And that's where my mind is.”

War marks the latest female-driven drama for Rhimes. Grey's Anatomy ranks as ABC's top scripted drama and will enter its 10th season in the fall, celebrating its 200th episode early in the season. Scandal, which is based on the life of famed fixer Judy Smith, is entering its third season on ABC, recently earning Emmy nominations for stars Kerry Washington and Dan Bucatinsky. Her credits also include female-driven Private Practice and Off the Map. Her Shondaland banner recently sold a script with writer KJ Steinberg (Rhimes' pilot Gilded Lilys) about a maverick attorney inspired by the life of victims' rights lawyer Wynona Ward, founder of Have Justice Will Travel. Rhimes also co-wrote the telepic Introducing Dorothy Dandridge for HBO, which earned star Halle Berry a Golden Globe and Emmy for best actress in a miniseries or movie.

Gordon's credits include Showtime's Ray Donovan, which was recently renewed for a second season, as well as Criminal Minds, Army Wives and the features Source Code, The Messenger and Speed.

Rhimes and Gordon are repped by ICM Partners; Beers is with UTA.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit