Kerry Washington: There’s some truth behind this ‘Scandal’

Crisis manager Judy Smith is the inspiration behind “Scandal.” The show premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Crisis management pro Olivia Pope is the textbook Shonda Rhimes heroine: smart, driven and a complete mess in her personal life. Exchange the power suit for scrubs, and Olivia would fit in perfectly in either of Rhimes’ other shows, “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Private Practice.” Strong but flawed is what the writer does best, though she had a little help conceptualizing her protagonist for the new ABC drama “Scandal” — Olivia is based on real-life crisis manager Judy Smith, the founder of a high-powered strategic and crisis communications firm who also served as an assistant U.S. attorney and president George H.W. Bush’s deputy press secretary.

“The world that I live in is very high-stakes. It’s very fast-paced,” Smith says matter-of-factly. “And what [Shonda and her team has] done is a terrific job at dramatizing that in a very unique setting.”
The setting is Washington, D.C., “the nexus of power for so many different industries and so many different fields,” says actress Kerry Washington, who plays Olivia with equal fierceness and vulnerability. The locale allows the show to delve into behind-the-scenes political machinations, but not necessarily linger there.

“From show to show, who walks in our office is completely unpredictable — whether it’s somebody in the military, whether it’s a politician, whether it’s somebody in the corporate world, whether it’s somebody in the labor movement, whether it’s a celebrity, whether it’s a sports figure,” says Washington. “So [D.C.] is an exciting context for the show, but it’s not a political show because we deal with crisis in all areas, as does Judy.”

So, naturally, when Rhimes is met with her own crisis when trying to write a script, Smith is the first person she turns to. “I would call her up and say, ‘A madam’s been arrested, and she’s got a client list. What would you do?’” says Rhimes. “And then Judy tells us how you solve the problem. And that’s been a fascinating and amazing resource for us.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…