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How to win in Hollywood: Shonda Rhimes’ prime-time secret

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Shonda Rhimes knows how to throw a party. The Chi-Town native isn’t even required to make an appearance and it nevertheless will be jam-packed. Held in Hollywood, the Thursday night house parties, aka live tweet sessions, have one tiny requirement while you tune in, BYOS — bring your own smartphone.

Everyone plays a part in making this virtual party a success, including actress Viola Davis, a two-time Oscar nominee who this past spring received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from her alma mater, The Juilliard School; as well as Emmy Award-winning actress Kerry Washington. And, fans enjoy the benefits.

Davis plays complex and tenacious defense attorney and criminal law professor Annalise Keating in ABC’s newest scripted soapy legal drama, “How To Get Away With Murder,” which is pulling in astounding ratings. It opened this fall with a jaw-dropping 14 million total viewers and a 3.8 audience share among adults ages 18-49. Even figuring in delayed viewing, i.e., on demand, DVR, etc., the show set a record of 20.3 million total viewers and a 5.6 in the demo within three days of its debut.

“Scandal,” starring Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, is the first network television drama to feature a black lead character since the late Teresa Graves starred in “Get Christie Love!” in 1974. Now in its fourth season, “Scandal” is enjoying a spectacular run. It reportedly generates more than $200,000 for each 30-second ad.

It’s even made popcorn a popular pairing with red wine. It’s Olivia’s favorite dinner. And, the fishbowl wine glass she drinks from is often sold out at Crate & Barrel.

“Grey’s Anatomy” is admired by both audiences and critics. The show has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Television Series, a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series and a Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Series.

No producer has held down a prime-time lineup like this since Aaron Spelling’s blockbuster triumvirate “T.J. Hooker,” “The Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island.”

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