ABC has reduced the third season of Scandal to 18 episodes.
The network initially ordered 22 episodes, and gave no official explanation for the reduction. However, star Kerry Washington is expecting her first child with new husband Nnamdi Asomugha, and it is getting increasingly difficult to hide the pregnancy. The 36-year-old is due in the spring, which would make filming the last four episodes nearly impossible.
According to TV Line, writing Washington’s character out of the show for an extended period of time was not an option, and creator Shonda Rhimes has declined to incorporate Washington’s pregnancy into the storyline.
There have been nine episodes of Scandal so far this season, and the series airs its winter finale next week. The series returns February 27, 2014.
The Closer star Jon Tenney has been cast as a rumored love interest for First Lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young). An ABC representative confirmed Tenney’s casting, but wouldn’t give any further details about his character. His recurring gig will begin when the series returns in February.
Last night’s episode, “YOLO,” drew 8.27 million viewers — the lowest audience of the season — with a 3.0 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic. The season premiere, “It’s Handled,” drew the largest audience at 10.52 million viewers with a 3.6 rating in the 18-49 demo.
Shonda Rhimes said she knows how and when the series will end.
“I knew the end of Grey’s Anatomy, and then we kept going, so that I finally just had to write that and move past it,” Rhimes said. “Who knows, at this point, how long that show’s going to go? It’s going to go as long as I feel interested in what happens to those characters.”
Rhimes added, “But I feel like there is a finite amount of Scandal to be told. So I know what the end of Scandal will be, and I feel really good about that. And I can see where the end point is. And I don’t think I’m going to change that…. I know how long I think it will be. But we’ll see.”