"Welcome to Shondaland!" We're not sure if anyone actually says that when you get cast on a Shonda Rhimes TV show, but even unspoken, those have to be three of the sweetest words for any actor to hear.
Rhimes is the reigning queen of tweet-worthy ABC dramas, with both veteran "Grey's Anatomy" and relative newcomer "Scandal" keeping her busy most days … not to mention her other shows in various stages of production, possible spinoffs, a book deal. and three young children.
But the best part about being on a Shonda Rhimes show, either as a series regular or a guest star, is that once you're in Shondaland, you have an amusement park fast-pass of sorts to all of her other roller-coaster ride series.
Rhimes is known for reusing and recycling some of her favorite players. "Scandal" stars Jeff Perry and Kate Burton, for example, played Meredith's parents on "Grey's"; Tony Goldwyn directed several episodes; and recent "Scandal" guest star Paul Adelstein starred on Rhimes' "Grey's" spinoff "Private Practice." (A generous tip of the white hat to Rhimes' go-to casting director Linda Lowy who — Shondaland small world alert! — also happens to be married to Jeff Perry.)
So who's next? Here's our list of the five Shondaland Players we'd like to see pop up on "Scandal" soon.
1. Audra McDonald
McDonald left her series regular role on "Private Practice" after four seasons to return to New York and the theater, but an episode of "The Good Wife" and her most recent scene-stealing turn on NBC's "The Sound of Music Live!" event make us think she'd return to L.A. and to TV for the right guest part. Your move, Shonda.
2. Jennifer Finnigan
Finnigan is best known for starring on CBS's "Close to Home," and she did several years on "The Bold and the Beautiful," so we know she can do soapy. But she also starred on Rhimes' 2010 pilot "Inside the Box," which didn't get picked up by ABC. Maybe Rhimes can bring her back into the fold on a show that people can actually watch to erase the memory of her more recent unfortunate TV failures: the one-and-done "Better With You" on ABC, and "Monday Mornings" on TNT.
3. Matt Lauria
Post-"Friday Night Lights," Lauria starred on Shawn Ryan's short-lived Fox drama "The Chicago Code," and he's currently causing all kinds of feelings on NBC's "Parenthood." But we can't help but wonder what might've been if Rhimes' "Gilded Lilys" pilot, a sort of American "Downton Abbey" co-starring Lauria, was picked up at ABC. Maybe he can play a modern-day aristocrat caught in a scandal?
4. KaDee Strickland
The "Private Practice" alum has taken some time off since the ABC medical drama ended, and she just gave birth to her first child, a son named Atticus, with husband and "Roswell" alum Jason Behr. Rhimes can help keep the little one in diapers and give Shondaland fans a reunion; having Paul Adelstein rock "Scandal" made us long for the good ol' CharCoop days, and we know we're not alone.
5. Sandra Oh
OK, so she's not exactly a Shondaland alum… yet. When Oh leaves "Grey's Anatomy" later this season, we're assuming she'll want a little time away from the medical drama series regular grind — what better way to scrub out of one show than to get your hands dirty on something a bit more scandalous? Plus, for fans who will be grieving the loss of Cristina Yang, a new role for Oh could let them skip the "depression" step and go straight to "acceptance"... and delight.
Season 3 of "Scandal" returns Feb. 17 at 10 p.m. on ABC.