ABC has given a 10-episode straight-to-series order to Rebel, its Katey Sagal-starring drama inspired by the life of activist Erin Brockovich today. It hails from Brockovich, Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 executive producer/showrunner Krista Vernoff, Davis Entertainment, Sony Pictures TV and ABC Signature. It will debut in 2021.
Rebel was one of five 2020 ABC pilots — all grounded by the coronavirus pandemic — that were selected by the network in June to shoot once production can safely resume. It joins two other projects from ABC’s 2020 pilot slate that have received straight-to-series orders for next this coming, David E. Kelley’s Big Sky, which is already filming in Vancouver, and Kari Lizer’s comedy Call Your Mother, which is also a Sony TV/ABC Signature co-production.
As a precursor to a straight-to-series order, ABC had commissioned a writers room for Rebel, which I hear has produced six scripts to date. The pickup gives Vernoff three series on ABC as Rebel will join Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19, both already in production on their new seasons.
The Rebel pickup also marks Davis Entertainment’s second straight-to-series broadcast order during the pandemic, joining The Equalizer starring Queen Latifah at CBS. The company also has two returning broadcast drama series, NBC’s The Blacklist and CBS’ Magnum P.I.
Rebel, whose premiere episode is written by Krista Vernoff and will be directed by Tara Nicole Weyr, centers on Annie “Rebel” Bello (Sagal). She is a blue-collar legal advocate without a law degree — 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.
“The work that Erin Brockovich does in this world is so powerful and so important that it almost defies description. Erin works tirelessly for social, legal and environmental justice despite the lack of a formal degree. She inspires everyone she meets to become their own heroes, and somehow, she also keeps us laughing. It has been a tremendous honor to get to know Erin and to create a show inspired by her,” Vernoff said. “I am thrilled to be working with a dream cast led by the extraordinary Katey Sagal with the incredible Tara Nicole Weyr directing. I could not be more excited about the series order for ‘Rebel,’ and I’m so grateful for the support of Dana Walden, Karey Burke, Craig Hunegs, Jonnie Davis and all my partners at Walt Disney Television and ABC.”
Co-starring opposite Sagal are Andy Garcia, John Corbett, James Lesure, Lex Scott Davis, Tamala Jones, Ariela Barer, Kevin Zegers and Sam Palladio.
“Erin Brockovich has never stopped the extraordinary work she does fighting for her clients like they’re family, and Krista Vernoff’s take on her life today in Rebel is undeniable,” said Karey Burke, president, ABC Entertainment. “Katey Sagal is a powerhouse as Rebel, and with Andy Garcia, John Corbett and the rest of the phenomenal cast, viewers are going to fall in love with these characters and the world Krista has created for them.”
Vernoff executive produces through her Trip the Light banner alongside Brockovich, Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox as well as Andrew Stearn and Trip the Light’s Alexandre Schmitt. Davis’ Mike Stein is co-producer.
“Rebel is not just my story, it is all of our stories. There is a hero that exists in all of us, and I am so excited for Krista Vernoff and ABC to bring their visionary storytelling to this series,” said Brockovich. “The name Rebel oozes self-empowerment, courage and rising above, even in the worst of circumstances. I cannot think of anyone better to play this role than the indomitable Katey Sagal, who is such a force, as well as the rest of this extraordinary cast.”
The series is produced by ABC Signature, part of Disney TV Studios, in association with Sony Pictures Television.