I'm at the Winter TCA right now bringing you all the news from the TV conference, and it's ABC day. Earlier I gave you the scoop on Pretty Little Liars, and now I have the details for you on brand-new series Off the Map. Exec producer Shonda Rhimes came to give us the info on the show, along with other showrunners and cast members including Zach Gilford, Mamie Gummer, Martin Henderson, and Rachelle Lefevre.
- Rhimes was immediately asked how Off the Map isn't just Grey's Anatomy in the jungle. She looked to creator Jenna Bans, saying that "it's Jenna's voice, Jenna's characters," and Bans herself said this group of characters "aren't at the top of their game personally or professionally." The three young docs played by Gilford, Gummer, and Caroline Dhavernas "need to start over, need to reinvent themselves."
- Former Friday Night Lights star Gilford acknowledged that his character, Tommy, is quite different than meek hero Matt Saracen, and he's happy about that. He said, "I couldn't be luckier to get to do something new."
- In case you didn't know, Gummer is the daughter of Meryl Streep, so naturally she was asked if her mother ever gave her career advice. Gummer says they "don't really talk shop at home" but that Streep gives advice about "things that any other mother would try to convey, things like SPF." She seems to know that people are looking at her more closely because of her famous mom, but she joked humbly, "It's not like we own a line of pizza joints and there's a secret ingredient in the sauce."
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- Fans of Grey's Anatomy will recognize Jason George (Bailey's former love interest Ben), who appears on Off the Map as Otis. Since the shows are both produced by Rhimes, why not have him reprise character? Rhimes says it's to establish Off the Map as a standalone show. "We want it to be its own world," she added, and mentioned that they wanted to avoid hearing people ask when they were going to see a crossover episode.
- The cast says they've bonded since moving to Hawaii (which stands in for South America) for the show. Gilford said they hang out outside of work, but that he and Gummer already knew each other, having been classmates at Northwestern University. So how close are they? Henderson teased that there was one night of skinny dipping, but he kept coy: "I'm not saying who."
- What can you expect from the tone of the show? Bans wants to "keep it a blend of drama and comedy" and "never get too dark and edgy." Bans dubbed it a medical action adventure, saying she wanted to show Americans the importance of international outreach programs to doctors. More romantically, Rhimes says Bans "put a scalpel in the hands of Indiana Jones."
Be sure to stay tuned to BuzzSugar for more exciting news all week long from the Winter TCA!