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The Scandal Cast Assembles to Discuss Olivia’s Abortion, Dropping Columbus Short and More

With Scandal prepping for its 100th episode set in an alternate reality, the cast, crew and creator/showrunner Shonda Rhimes gathered to reminisce about the political drama’s most notable moments on and off the screen. One of the biggest was the departure of Columbus Short, the former series regular who saw his character suddenly killed off following reports of domestic abuse and bad on-set behavior.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Short and Rhimes both addressed the topic without really saying anything we didn’t already know. “I was going through a tumultuous time in my personal life with my marriage, and it was starting to affect my onscreen play,” Short admitted. “I wasn’t focused; I was coming to work late, and I was bringing down the team.” Rhimes added, “We did not renew his option. It was clear to everybody that his personal life overwhelmed his work life.”

She and Bellamy Young, who plays first lady-turned-presidential candidate Mellie Grant, went on to discuss that much-talked about episode in which Olivia is seen getting abortion on screen.

Bellamy Young (Mellie, first lady): I remember we showed up for the table read the day the filibuster episode was about to air. [ABC’s] Standards and Practices wanted to cut Olivia’s abortion [in season five].

Rhimes: I said, “Go ahead, alter the scene. We’ll just have a lot of articles about how you altered the scene.” We had done an abortion on a military woman who had been raped earlier on, and we were doing nothing different than we did in that scene—they just didn’t like that it was happening to Olivia. It was a Christmas episode, and we played Christmas music.

Young: I don’t think abortion had ever been presented as an emancipated woman’s option before. And it’s set to “Silent Night.” The balls to pick that song.

Rhimes: I kept going back to our music supervisor, “We sure Aretha Franklin is OK with this?” I wanted to make sure Aretha knew what the scene was about. Her people said I was fine and to stop asking. It made me love her forever because then I could be like, “Aretha Franklin, who sings a lot of gospel music, is very supportive of this.”

You can read the rest of the interview here.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: screencap)

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