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‘Scandal’ Finale on Television and on Stage

Shonda Rhimes,

Scandal fans watched tonight’s jam-packed season finale and received a major revelation (SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!) because of a single line, “Dad???”

The ABC drama’s “gladiators” as they are called, heard it live at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at the end of the first-ever onstage table read of the show, using the finale script.

The session ended about 10 minutes into the 10p.m. airing. The cast whooped and hollered, too.

“The satisfying part is, I knew all along,” actor Joe Morton crowed as the cast finished reading Act 6 ,which revealed that Rowan ( Morton) is the father of Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington).

At the top of the session, show creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes said she hoped the experiment would give the audience a feeling of what it’s like to be in the room at a real table read.

Washington said she didn’t know the finale’s plot twist until the first table read of the script.

“I grew up in a household where Joe Morton is a great American hero,” she said. “Every week I would say: ‘Joe, I really hope we have some scenes together. He’d say: ‘We do. We do.’ ”

Rhimes joked that reading in front of people meant the cast would use less profanity than usual (this did not seem to be the case). She also said that the audience would hear some lines that would be cut from the version they would later watch at home.
The panel was hosted by Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson, who admonished the many Hollywood wannabes in the audience: “Please don’t ask Shonda for a job. No pitches for shows. No resumes.”
Rhimes left the stage to sit in the audience during the reading. Executive producer Betsy Beers sat onstage with Scandal’s large ensemble cast. When read aloud — including plenty of mugging and horsing around by the crowd — this popular evening soap opera played more like high comedy.
The audience frequently roared with laughter and offered loud applause. Some of the humor came from Rhimes’ stage directions, read aloud by Beers:  “Jake and Olivia are having sex in his apartment. (Beat). Good sex. (Beat). Great sex.”
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