Krista Vernoff is close to hitting a trifecta for ABC.
The Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 showrunner’s Erin Brockovich drama has been formally picked up to pilot and cast Katey Sagal in the leading role.
Put into development in October with a sizable put-pilot commitment, Rebel is inspired by the life of Brockovich today. The project revolves around Annie “Rebel” Bello (Sagal), a blue-collar legal advocate without a law degree. She’s a funny, messy, brilliant and fearless woman who cares desperately about the causes she fights for and the people she loves. When Rebel applies herself to a fight she believes in, she will win at almost any cost.
Vernoff wrote the script and will executive produce the drama alongside her husband and partner at Trip the Light, Alexandre Schmitt, via their overall deal with ABC Studios. John Davis and John Fox of Davis Entertainment will also exec produce via their Sony Pictures Television-based company. Brockovich is attached as an exec producer.
The pilot order arrives some two decades after the Steven Soderbergh and Susannah Grant feature Erin Brockovich (2000) starring Julia Roberts made Brockovich a famed crusader for the disenfranchised. The pic earned Roberts an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and other honors. Erin Brockovich, which was Oscar-nominated for best picture, followed the single mother of three who was instrumental in building a case against Pacific Gas and Electric in the early ’90s. Brockovich did so without any legal training.
Sagal is currently recurring on ABC’s Roseanne offshoot The Conners and counts Sons of Anarchy, Superior Donuts, 8 Simple Rules and Married…With Children among her credits.
For Vernoff, Rebel is the first project to stem from the multiyear overall deal she signed in January 2019. She and Schmitt launched Trip the Light Productions, and Vernoff has increasingly become among ABC’s most important showrunners. After rejoining Grey’s Anatomy a few seasons ago to help fill the day-to-day void brought about by creator Shonda Rhimes’ departure to Netflix, Vernoff helped revive the medical soap to become ABC’s No. 1 drama. Grey’s Anatomy is currently in its 16th season and has already been picked up for a 17th. Additionally, she was tapped last summer to serve as showrunner and revive Station 19, ABC’s struggling firefighter-focused Grey’s Anatomy spinoff. Grey’s is back Thursday with its midseason premiere as it returns to its old stomping grounds at 9 p.m., with Station 19 — which is being more fully integrated with the flagship — launching its third season and first under Vernoff at 8 p.m.
Rebel is ABC’s fourth drama pilot order this season, joining the Greg Berlanti-produced The Brides, a Thirtysomething sequel and the family drama Harlem’s Kitchen. Keep track of all of this season’s pilot orders with THR‘s handy guide.