TIME Television

Scandal Teaches You How to Handle It When Your Kid Makes a Sex Tape

Tony Goldwyn on Scandal Adam Taylor—ABC

In ten easy steps!

This post includes spoilers for Thursday night’s episode of Scandal.

With all the nude selfies getting leaked on the Internet and hacks of the supposedly self-destructing pictures and videos on Snapchat, parents have a reason to be worried about what their teens are recording and sharing. Our private lives aren’t so private anymore. That’s even true for the President’s kids — or, well, a fictional president’s kids.

Last night on Scandal the president’s daughter Karen filmed what D.C. fixer protagonist Olivia Pope called “the dirtiest sex tape I’ve ever seen in my life.” I know, it sounds like a problem you’ll never have to deal with in your life. But if a teen can slip her secret service detail to attend a party and “Eiffel Tower” with some guys (look up at your own risk), then parents should be in full-blown panic mode about what their non-guarded kids are doing.

Olivia’s job is to manage crises, and Karen’s dad Fitz is the damn president of the United States. Surely we can learn a little something from them about what to do if your kid makes a sex tape. Here’s the step-by-step list:

1. Be outraged

The mean parent, in Scandal‘s case President Fitz, should yell things like, “Start talking, now,” to get a clear idea of how bad the situation is. You may uncover information like that your daughter hitched a ride on “someone’s father’s jet” to get to the party in question. (N.B. Apparently if your kid does not attend the most expensive boarding school in the country, you’re already ahead of the game.)

2. Flirt with the “fixer” handling your child’s case

Oh, you didn’t hire Olivia Pope to handle this? Good luck.

3. Lie to other parent about why child is home

Because there’s no way she’s going to find out about this eventually, right?

4. Use hyper-advanced computer software to locate the other people in the sex tape

Apparently typing in a lot of code with the words “tattoo” and “arm” can determine whether a guy in a blurry party pictures tagged #swaggapalooza has a tattoo or not, give you all his information and thus help you track down the tape. Sure.

5. Be forced to admit that there’s a sex tape to your spouse because she thinks you’re having an affair with the fixer who is suddenly hanging around the house all the time (which you are…but whatever)

In defense of yourself, you should probably accuse your spouse of being a bad mother and thus being ultimately responsible for the sex tape. When tempers are high, it’s always best to blame someone else. Expect a response from your spouse like, “She takes after her daddy, then, doesn’t she?”

6. Have one of the fixer’s assistants intimidate the guy in the sex tape

May I suggest saying things like, “I know who you are, Bobby,” and then listing off a bunch of personal factoids about the person in a fast, staccato voice. That tends to scare to crap out of people. Oh, grabbing them by the throat and threatening to destroy their lives works, too.

7. Once that person has coughed up the name of the third person in the sex tape who actually has the video (scandalous, right?), bring in that teen’s parents for a negotiation

These parents will probably blackmail you for a lot of money because people are the worst.

8. Kiss the fixer

This will take your mind off of the whole blackmail thing.

9. Deal with the parents

When the parents ask for another $500,000 (again, people are the worst), photograph them with the check and say that you will send it to the tabloids, who will write that they are child pornographers. See, this is why you hire a fixer.

10. Talk to your kid

Actually, the best parenting advice comes from a surprising source in this episode: First Lady Mellie Grant.

Mellie doesn’t slut-shame her daughter. She tells her that if she felt empowered and happy by her sex act she would “have a tiny seizure inside,” but still be supportive of Karen and happy for her. “But I don’t think that’s why you did it,” Mellie says. And the two talk about how Karen has been depressed since her brother died in front of her, “which means you get one free pass. This was it. You do not get another.”

Mellie also teaches Karen the life lesson that the world sucks: “It’s definitely sexist. If you were a boy, they’d be giving you high fives.” Well played, Mellie.

So there you have it: hire a fixer if you can, turn the tables on anyone who tries to blackmail you and don’t slut-shame your kid. As Olivia Pope would say: “It’s handled.”




TIME women

Darby Stanchfield on “Scandal” and Women’s Limitations in Hollywood

Actress Darby Stanchfield attends the TGIT Premiere event at Palihouse on September 20, 2014 in West Hollywood, California.
Actress Darby Stanchfield attends the TGIT Premiere event at Palihouse on September 20, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. Imeh Akpanudosen—Getty Images

"I don't think of myself as limited in this business as a woman"

Answer by Darby Stanchfield, actress in the ABC drama “Scandal,” on Quora.

I find this question to be deceptively tricky. It is all too easy to cry ‘victim’ in the entertainment industry and fall prey to believing all sorts of limitations (about oneself) that the industry is known for. Examples of these multifarious limited ways of thinking are as follows:

  • An actor has to be physically beautiful in order to be a leading actor…
  • A woman will not work over the age of 40…
  • If you are not born into the business or aren’t related to someone established in the business, you can’t break into it and have the same opportunities as those who are…
  • A person of color has a much smaller chance of getting a lead role than a caucasian person…
  • A blonde woman can only play a ditzy role and not one of intelligence…

…and the list goes on and on. This question—”What are the main struggles women face when building a career?”—alerts me that this is one of those limited ways of thinking. I don’t think of myself as limited in this business as a woman or in any other way. In fact, I often look to men’s career paths in the television and film business as inspiration. I don’t see myself as different than they are.

This is not to say that challenges don’t exist within the television and film industry for women. Or that there isn’t a history of limitations (for most individuals) within the industry. I don’t say this lightly, but I find the most effective way to empower oneself beyond limitations is to spend as little time dwelling on them as possible. This in turn is the best way out of them. Here’s an example: if I walk into an audition room, thinking that as a woman, or a woman over 40, or a woman who grew up in the middle of no-where (Alaska) and not in Hollywood, that I am destined to be at a disadvantage, then that’s exactly what I’ll project. I’ll project a defeated attitude and that’s what the director and producers will read. But, if I go in believing I have just as much of a chance as anyone else — or even a better chance, if I go in embracing my womanhood, my age, my background, and my originality — I will only project a wonderful message of originality and confidence and peace within myself. I believe THAT state of mind, and how it informs the way in which one carries themselves, is irresistible.

The leading women of “Scandal” (Kerry Washington, Bellamy Young, Katie Lowes) and I have had many conversations about this notion. We’ve all had defining moments in our careers where we drew a line in the sand and have took a stand to say ‘no’ to a stereotyped role. This directly rejects the notion of limiting ourselves because of our unique circumstances of age, race, gender, etc.

There will be a lot of people who disagree with me. But I don’t know how to be in this business any other way than embracing each person’s unique characteristics, and seeing them as full of unlimited possibilities in how they might utilize those talents. In fact, if I were to think any other way, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t work nearly as much as I do and have worked in the entertainment industry. I also think that by committing to and embracing a larger, more unlimited way of thinking about oneself and others in the industry we will, in turn, create more progress in breaking limited stereotypes, rather than if one were to dwell on and operate from those limited beliefs.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What are the main struggles women face when building a career in film and television?

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Television

Stephen Collins Loses Another Role Amid Molestation Allegations

Actor Stephen Collins promotes NBC's "Revolution" at WonderCon Anaheim 2014 - Day 1 held at Anaheim Convention Center on April 18, 2014 in Anaheim, California.
Actor Stephen Collins promotes NBC's "Revolution" at WonderCon Anaheim 2014 - Day 1 held at Anaheim Convention Center on April 18, 2014 in Anaheim, California. Albert L. Ortega—Getty Images

The actor will not appear in Season 4 of Scandal

Actor Stephen Collins will not appear in any upcoming episodes of Scandal, ABC said Wednesday, after it was revealed that the actor allegedly abused children.

The former 7th Heaven star confessed to molesting young girls to his estranged wife in a recording released by TMZ Tuesday. Collins is currently being investigated by the New York Police Department.

ABC also said that it “will not be airing any footage with Stephen Collins” in upcoming Scandal episodes, Entertainment Weekly reports. The actor had appeared as a reporter in a 2012 episode of the network’s hit series and tweeted in September that he was filming for the current season.

Collins has also been released from the upcoming Ted 2.


TIME White House

9 Secret Service Screw-Ups and Scandals

Secret Service - stock photo
Ian Waldie—Getty Images

From White House intruders to wild and crazy nights

With Secret Service Director Julia Pierson appearing before a House oversight panel on Tuesday with promises to fix the agency after revelations that a fence-jumper made it all the way to the East Room, the agency is making lots of promises. “It will never happen again,” Pierson told the panel.

But as hopeful as she may be, those who remember even the recent history of the agency have reason to take that vow with a grain of salt. Not only is there a decades-long history of intrusions at the White House, but the agency is also no stranger to messing up.

For example:

Earlier this year, three agents were sent home from a trip to the Netherlands after getting drunk the night before the President was set to arrive.

In 2013, two agents were removed from Presidential security detail after sending sexually inappropriate emails to a colleague, which was uncovered when one of the agents was discovered trying to forcefully enter a woman’s hotel room after forgetting a bullet inside.

In 2012, eight agents were fired after it emerged that they had allegedly solicited prostitutes while on an on-duty trip to Colombia.

In 2001, an agent admitted to having stolen nearly $3,000 in cash that the Secret Service had taken as evidence in the years prior.

In 1999, an agent in Chicago with then-First Lady Hillary Clinton went to a hotel bar and put her service weapon in her purse under her chair; a thief with a long arrest record stole the gun.

In 1998, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Ken Starr got permission to question Secret Service agents. Though helping a President find some personal privacy for a tryst was nothing new in the agency’s history, the Starr Report still made headlines by revealing that agents had watched her come and go from the Oval Office.

In 1997, an agent who was guarding former President Ronald Reagan was convicted of sex with a minor and possession of drugs, as well as resisting arrest.

In 1971, in the realm of legal-but-shady real-estate dealings, it was revealed that the Secret Service had arranged for a Florida home near President Nixon’s compound in the area to be sold for $150,000—the owners were, ironically, annoyed by all the Secret Service presence—to a buyer who turned out to be a friend of the administration’s, who subsequently leased the house back to the the Secret Service.

In 1964, when the Warren Commission investigated the Kennedy assassination, the group found that Secret Service agents had been drinking the night before the event—though there was no accusation that the drinking impaired their work, it was still forbidden—and that the route was not properly secured.

Then again, hope for a scandal-free secret service isn’t necessarily misplaced. After all, the agency once had a spotless record. In the April 16, 1934, issue of TIME, agency chief William Herman Moran recalled 52 years in the agency and was “proud that, since its organization in 1861, his secret police system has never had a scandal.”

The same article recounts the story of an agent who stopped President Warren Harding from getting on a boat that soon sank and President Herbert Hoover from speaking from a platform that had been “gutted by termites” to the point of collapse. Highly visible saves —like preventing President Reagan’s assassination in 1981—are few and far between, but daily successes like looking out for termites are likely to have continued over the decades that would follow, largely unnoticed. It’s the fate of the Secret Service that, until its agents do something wrong, the work that they do mostly remains, well, secret.

TIME Television

Real-Life Olivia Pope Reveals What President George H.W. Bush Thinks of Scandal

'Love you. Want you. You left me!' the 90-year-old former president and Fitzpatrick Grant inspiration told P.R. professional Judy Smith

Olivia Pope, television phenom and Washington fixer extraordinaire, seems to have found a fan in George H.W. Bush.

Pope, the Kerry Washington character, is inspired by real-life crisis management pro Judy Smith, a consultant on the ABC show and one-time special assistant to Bush.

When the show departed from Smith’s own biography and showed Pope having an affair with the president, who as a Navy veteran and scion of a wealthy Republican political family is a Bush-like figure, Smith felt that she had to give the now 90-year-old former president a heads up.

“I had to quickly call President Bush to help frame the message. To help form the narrative before he heard from anyone else,” she told a crowd gathered Friday at the Nantucket Project, a conference on art and commerce, hours after the fourth season of the show premiered.

So Smith called Bush’s office, where they said he was proud of her and couldn’t wait to see the show. She insisted, however, that she needed to talk to him to explain something.

When he called back, she was in the middle of work and couldn’t pick up, but he left a message: “Love you. Want you. You left me! And by the way, this is the former leader of the free world. Call me.”

She called him back to say, “See? This is why I’m calling you now, you need some talking points!”

He replied, “I’m going to confirm the affair…I have young people working in my office now. They said I need to stay relevant, it’s good for my reputation.”

“I said, ‘Look now, if you don’t stay on these messages, I am going to call your boss,’” Smith remembers saying.

“You wouldn’t call Barbara, would you?,” the former president asked.

TIME Television

Where Are All the Angry Black Women?

#TGIT Premiere Event Hosted BY Twitter
Actress Viola Davis , the star of How To Get Away With Murder. Amanda Edwards—WireImage/Getty Images

Robin Givens on living with outdated stereotypes in a modern era

We’ve been hearing a lot of about angry black women this week. A New York Times television critic used that phrase recently to describe Shonda Rhimes, producer of breakthrough hit shows featuring African American women like Scandal, Gray’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder which premiered on Thursday. The Times piece launched a hot debate about race and the media prompting a long response from the paper’s public editor on Wednesday. That’s a conversation we should be having, but beyond those fundamental questions, the fracas left me wondering where the term “angry black women” originated and what goings on made the term stick.

By the time we’re adults, most black women have lots of reasons, big and small, to be furious whether it’s pay inequities or the outrageous injustices that are regularly inflicted upon our fathers, brothers, sons and husbands. But looking around, I don’t know where all the angry black women are. Mostly we’re working. Anger might just be a luxury we don’t have. And I’m not sure public fury is something we feel safe expressing even when we should.

Just this summer, a friend mine, well-educated, well-travelled, successful and black, offered to house sit and take care of my dog Grace. She’s done this before and usually her boyfriend would join her while she walked Grace in the park down the street from my home. On one particular night on their walk, three police cars pulled up and asked her what she and her boyfriend were doing. Stunned, scared and confused, she cautiously replied “walking the dog.” They showed their ID to the officers and went on their way. My friend then phoned to tell me what had happened. She was clearly shaken but not angry, though she had every right to be.

Before that, I spent weeks watching Trayvon Martin’s mother defend her murdered son with strength and grace but never anger, an emotion she had every right to under the circumstances. I thought of my sons and wondered how she kept the rage at bay. But she did. And now there’s Michael Brown, and another mother suffering but not raging.

When I explain to my sons (who happen to be half white ) that while their friends jump fences to take the shortcut home , they absolutely should not. Why? They ask me. I search for the right words. I resent that I have to have this conversation with them, I resent that I worry about them when they pull up their hoodies. Does this make me an angry black woman?

I was raised being told that education is the great equalizing factor in America, but the officers in my Southern California neighborhood didn’t ask about my friend’s expensive degree when they stopped her. I don’t know what they were thinking. And while I do know that so very much has changed since my mother had to enter through the back door in order to go to the movies in Lexington, Ky., so much has remained the same. And that includes having a TV critic look at Shonda Rhimes’ career and decide to measure the complex black female characters she’s brought into our lives against a cartoonish stereotype.

The piece should serve as reminder that it is still remarkable to see 49-year-old Viola Davis as the star of a prime time drama, and, for that matter, to see Michelle Obama in the White House. This is because we are still being measured against those stereotypes and still learning to climb past them. Legendary actress Ruby Dee once told me that for black women, life is “like going to the ocean and only being allowed a cup of it.” And when I think of Shonda Rhimes and what she has done with that cup, I’m proud. She is gloriously swimming in the all of it and furthermore, she brings friends … Viola Davis, Kerry Washington to name a few.

When I look at Tea Leoni or Kerry Washington I don’t see much difference between them. When I look at Viola Davis and Meryl Streep I am in awe, equally. But as a black actress and black woman, I realize that Davis and Washington’s roads have been very different from their counterparts. Narrower and steeper to say the least.

And for the black women who are watching these actresses move ascend in the cultural universe, there’s pride. Rhimes’ heroines are us. We don’t spend our days talking about being black, and we come in different shapes and sizes, and yes different colors. Some of us are weak and some of us are strong. And some of us are even angry, especially when someone who has no experience in our world makes a judgement about what we’re feeling.

TIME Television

7 Things You Need to Know Before Scandal’s Season 4 Premiere


Get the facts straight before the big premiere

Correction appended Sept. 26

Thursday night, celebrators of Rosh Ha-Shonda will wrap up in their Olivia Pope inspired white coats and eagerly watch the season 4 premiere of Scandal.

Season 3 was jam packed with explosive plot lines and, well, literal explosions. In case you were in need of a quick refresher, don’t fret: it’s been handled. Here are the 7 things you should remember going into the premiere — because Gladiators need recaps, too.

1. James was murdered
Viewers were shocked to see Cyrus’ husband James, a fan favorite, get shot in the head by Olivia’s love interest Jake. (A now-debatable fan favorite.) Cyrus is now a single dad in mourning.

2. The president’s son was murdered
Publicly. Jerry was infected with bacterial meningitis, stolen from the CDC, during a campaign event. (That’s one tragic way to win a presidency). Mama Pope got the blame — deserved or not.

3. Papa Pope is really to blame
Along with the help of secret service man Tom — who came out of nowhere as a double agent. Rowan took out little Jerry as an act of vengeance since he said that the president took away his child, Olivia. (Metaphorically. Those are different things, Rowan.) Although Harrison found out about Rowan’s master plan…

3. …Harrison will probably be murdered
Because it’s Scandal. If there’s an opportunity to kill a character, you take it. The season ended with Tom pointing a gun at Harrison’s head. While we didn’t see him pull the trigger, after actor Columbus Short’s was arrested for domestic abuse, Shonda Rhimes said that he was getting written out of the show.

4. Things we hope will die: Huck and Quinn’s relationship
The two were involved in a lot of weird sex and face licking in season 3. Although that might change. Before Charlie (Quinn’s murderous ex) left, he gave Quinn information about where the family Huck left behind lives. Huck has now been reunited with his wife. Is he going to play house?

5. What’s going on with Mama Pope?
Well, she was captured by Rowan — who told the president he’d kill her, but really just locked her in a hole underground.

6. Speaking of nice getaways, Olivia and Fitz aren’t going to Vermont anytime soon
Although Fitz, sure he was going to lose to Sally Langston, told Liv that he was ready to leave Mellie and start making jam with her in Vermont, things changed quickly. Olivia revealed Mellie was raped by his father. And now that Jerry has died, he can’t exactly walk out now, can he?

7. Also, Olivia literally left on a jet plane with Jake
That also might complicate the Olitz relationship. Jake asked her to save him and walk in the sun with him over and over again throughout the season, and Olivia finally said yes. She quit the company and is off to an undisclosed location. Jake quit B613 and gave David a ton of confidential filed along with the note, “go get the bad guys.”

But everyone is kind of a bad guy!

And now, on to the complex plot lines Shonda certainly has in store for season 4. Scandal premieres Thursday, Sept. 24 at 9 p.m.

The original version of this post misstated the name of the character who passed along confidential information. It was David.

TIME celebrity

Watch Kerry Washington Call Jimmy Fallon’s Bluffs on the Tonight Show

The Scandal star is an expert human lie detector in a game called "Box of Lies"

Last night, Kerry Washington dropped by the Tonight Show and joined Jimmy Fallon for a recurring segment called “Box of Lies.” It’s a game that requires contestants to guess whether or not the other player is lying about the contents of various boxes chosen at random. (Previous contestants include Jennifer Lawrence and Tina Fey.)

The Scandal star turned out to be pretty good at this game and totally ended up besting Fallon — though neither of them are any good at keeping a straight face or stifling their giggles.

TIME Television

Scandal-Inspired Fashion Line Has Officially Hit Stores

You too can look like Olivia Pope

Scandal fans, rejoice. Not only is the ABC hit returning Thursday, but you can watch the Fall season premiere in your very own Olivia Pope signature white coat.

Tuesday marks the launch of a Scandal-inspired collection at The Limited. For $228, you too can own a Kerry Washington-esque plaid cape!

Limited chief executive Diane Ellis told the New York Times that research on the store’s typical shopper showed that, “Kerry Washington came up in the top three of celebrities she looks to, along with Jennifer Aniston and Sandra Bullock.”

(We aren’t surprised.)

Hopefully this line inspires a whole new slew of TV-inspired fashion. It’s not too late for Banana Republic to release a Mother of Dragons collection in time for Game of Thrones season 5…


Welcome to Shondaland

2014 Summer TCA Tour - Day 8
Executive producer Shonda Rhimes speaks onstage at the 'How To Get Away With Murder'' panel during the Disney/ABC Television Group portion of the 2014 Summer Television Critics Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 15, 2014 in Beverly Hills. Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images

The superproducer, programming all of ABC's Thursday night, has found that nothing succeeds like excess.

Beginning Sept. 25, superproducer Shonda Rhimes will take over a solid night of prime-time network TV in a way usually reserved only for pro sports. ABC airs Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy at 8 pm ET, Scandal at 9 and How to Get Away With Murder (created by Scandal co-producer Pete Nowalk) at 10. Aw yeah, America! Are you ready for some conspiracies, murder and romantic entanglements?

My column in this week’s print TIME looks at what makes a Shonda show a Shonda show, and what Rhimes has that other network producers don’t (and would love to):

That Rhimes commands an entire night on a major network puts her in the ranks of superproducers like David E. Kelley, Steven Bochco and Aaron Spelling. That she’s done it as an African-American woman is echoed in the casual diversity of her shows. And she’s achieved all this by figuring out a way for network drama to thrive in a challenging era: with smart, pulpy shows that emote like pop ballads, look like America and run like hell.

You’ll have to read the column (subscription required) for my take on Rhimes’ creative style. But anyone who gets three solid hours of programming on a major network is also a business success, and it seems to me that Rhimes has, in a couple of ways, used her art to overcome the problems facing big broadcast TV today.

First and most obvious is that Rhimes’ shows have unlocked social media, which can either be a distraction siphoning viewers away or an attraction tying them to you. It’s not just about how Rhimes’ cast, and she herself, have used Twitter so well and actively; in a way her shows, and Scandal in particular, are built for social media, with their OMG-ability and their sense of constant, crazy acceleration. It’s a way of making a scripted drama feel like an event, something you want to experience live.

But also, with Scandal–and maybe with Murder as well–she seems to have figured out one answer to the question of how broadcast networks can compete with the creative license of cable. At least since Tony Soprano came to HBO, there’s been a belief that cable protagonists have a freedom to embrace the dark side that network shows, with their broader audiences, don’t have.

But Rhimes’ series–like, in a different way, The Good Wife–draw their strength from allowing their characters to be bad, or at least ethically flexible. The fact that you don’t know precisely what moral lines Olivia Pope and her gladiators won’t cross doesn’t make them unlikeable; it makes them interesting. (It’s also helped keep the show grounded in character even as the third season’s plot spun further into quasi-Alias territory.)

As for How to Get Away With Murder: well, read the title–it’s taking moral compromise as a mission statement. Judging by the pilot (all I’ve seen so far) this show is a “maybe” for me so far. Viola Davis is as commanding as a pounding gavel, but the show still needs to establish that it has its own identity beyond “Scandal goes to law school.” But it starts off fast, and we can judge from precedent, will only get faster. Not for nothing does Shondaland’s production company logo feature a roller coaster.

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