"Alan Pompeo and I have an agreement: as long as we both want, the series will continue. As soon as anyone wants to stop - we will stop."
TV creator Shonda Reims was adamant at the event to promote "Grey's Anatomy," four years ago.
Since then, despite repeated rumors that the series is nearing completion, and even after the Corona disrupted several plot lines, none of them wanted to stop the series that laid golden eggs for them.
Next week will see the 18th season of "Anatomy", and this time it seems that it really is the swan song, and that the official announcement is only a matter of time.
"As someone who has been closely reviewing the series throughout its years, starting in the 16th season, there is a sense that it is coming to an end," says Lynette Rice, editor of Entertainment Weekly, which this week launched her book How to Save Lives: The Behind the Scenes of Grey's Anatomy. Interviews and behind-the-scenes stories of the set.
"Already a few months ago, when the series had not yet been renewed for the 18th season, there was talk that it was about to end, and that it would have a new daughter series, that Alan Pompeo (Meredith Gray) would be involved in its launch.
"All of these cases, in which they announced another season at the last minute, were the result of negotiations with Pompeo. The ABC network, which broadcasts the series, must make the business attractive and lucrative for the main star, and I believe that if they want it for a sequel, they too She will be sent a truck of cash to the house. "
In an interview she gave this week on the red carpet of the Emmy ceremony, Pompeo said: "I have been trying for years to break away from the series, and those who think we are in a farewell round are not necessarily wrong. But I have strong ties with ABC, they were very good to me and gave me incentives to stay. "What to do creatively, and we manage to find solutions in magical ways, which give us all a reason to continue - we may stay. But I must not say exactly what was decided."
One of the great stories Rice reveals in her book concerns the well-publicized departure of Patrick Dempsey (Dr. Derek Shepherd, "McDrimi"), in the 11th season. Contract for another season.
"Alan Pompeo is the main protagonist, but for many viewers, the attraction to the series was Dempsey, who was then the best-known actor to the audience," Lee Rice told me this week.
"Derek and Meredith's relationship was one of the main plot lines. But Dempsey had issues with people on the set, he was just a terrorist ruler. Stories began to surface about his outbursts of rage behind the scenes and ego struggles with Pompeo.
"He would interfere with the day-to-day running of the production and the crew, he would complain that he was required to come every day, even though he did not have a large part in the episode, and was angry that he stayed too long in the set. .
Patrick Dempsey (Dr. Derek Shepherd). "Regretted signing a contract for another season,"
Dempsey, who in his final years in the series earned $ 400,000 per episode, admits in the book: "I had to leave like Sandra or, but I stayed because they threw me amounts of money, and it was hard to refuse such sums, who would say no?
"It's great to be a wanted actor in such a prominent and phenomenal series all over the world, and with a character that everyone loves. It was an intoxicating feeling. It was hard to digest that it would be better to give it all up. The next job in the industry is never guaranteed, you will know when By ".
Eventually producer Shonda Reims decided to kill the character, who was second in importance in the series.
During the 11th season, Dempsey was absent from six episodes (the script sent him to Washington for medical research).
Viewers have threatened on social media that if the character ends her life, they will stop watching the series.
"The unpleasantness with Dempsey lasted for a while," Rice says. "The producers asked ABC to terminate his contract, and company executives began discussions about Dempsey's future in the series. "And so he will have less interaction with most of the actors and crew. But it didn't work out. There was also a problem in terms of the script, it was not possible to just dismantle the love story of Derek and Meredith, it didn't work out in the narrative."
Pompeo, by the way, told Rice that she did not like the ups and downs in the relationship between Meredith and Derek.
"I would never let any man treat me like that," she is quoted as saying in the book.
She told Rice that she did not want to play in a hospital series at all, but was persuaded to do so after lunch with Shonda Reims, who she liked ("She was like me, just a black woman").
Rice says she was the first to interview Dempsey after the final episode he attended, "but he was not open and open enough with me. It was only while working on the book that I realized what went on behind the scenes. Dempsey told me he regretted signing another season contract because he was no longer If he was good there, he felt burnt out. "
What else did you discover while writing the book?
What else did you discover while writing the book?
"How threatening Shonda Reims is. She's known as one who does not tolerate mistakes and excuses, and if she does not like a certain plot line, she can say to the screenwriter 'Why are you trying to ruin my series?'. Screenwriters who spoke to me shared the constant sense of disappointment they feel. They feel like 'Mom doesn't love me anymore'.
"And I also found out how shrewd Alan Pompeo is. She understands very well that she will not get such a job again. It is a role that made her very rich, without taking projects from the side. She persevered with the series all the way, she is the face of 'Anatomy', and she is definitely worthy For the high salary she receives. "
The book reveals that ABC executives initially thought the series was generic and repetitive, but decided to give it a try nonetheless.
They also did not like that already in the first episode Meredith sleeps with a man the night before she starts her work, and claimed that it is a prostitution act that does not suit the character.
But Reims insisted it was an important feminist element to build the character, and the script did not change.
Cover of the book "How to Save a Life: The Behind the Scenes of Grey's Anatomy",
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Pompeo (51) became in 2018 the highest-paid woman on television, a title she holds to this day, with a salary of $ 20 million per season and another percentage as a producer in the series (which also arranges royalties for reruns).
Until "Anatomy" she played negligible guest roles in series such as "Law and Order" and "Friends", but during the 17 years that the series aired, she did not take on any other project.
This is in contrast to most of the actors in the series, who were photographed for guest roles in series or movies, during the months off from filming the series.
Even in her personal life she is known for unconventional stability in Hollywood.
Married for 14 years to music producer Chris Avery, her age, lives in a villa in Los Angeles, a pastoral neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills, and is raising three children: Stella Luna (12), who was born before the start of the sixth season of "Anatomy";
Sienna Mae (7);
And Eli Christopher (4).
The last two were born with the help of a surrogate mother.
"I'm at a point in life where I feel comfortable demanding what I deserve," Pompeo said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter two years ago.
"I'm not exactly the most 'relevant' actress, in the industry I am considered the one who for years played the same character. But forgetting that anyone can excel in the series for a season or two, to excel after 14 years is already fucking talent.
"I am also not perceived as successful, unlike a young 24-year-old star who has appeared in several successful movies but earned pennies, certainly much less than her male counterparts. To herself?
"There are poor actresses, whose studios make a fortune when they send them frolicking like ponies on red carpets. Faye Danway drives a Toyota Prius today. There's nothing wrong with that, but she has no financial security. And that's the change I would like to be a part of."
She said Dempsey's departure was the moment she realized how much she was worth.
"Until then, they always used him as a bargaining chip in negotiating the renewal of my contract. They told me, 'We don't need you, we have Patrick.' I do not know if that was the case with him either, we never talked about our contracts. There were times I wanted us to go. Together to negotiate to improve positions, but he did not want to.
"In principle, I always asked to be paid $ 5,000 more than him. After all, Meredith Gray is me! This is my series, I'm in first place. I fought for my place, like many other actresses, because why would I leave a great role because of a man? No man? And when he left, the ratings went up, and I burst out laughing (the season after he left, the ratings jumped 15 percent, and in the annual rankings the series climbed from 13th to eighth place; usually).
"By the way, I do not believe the solution is necessarily more women in key positions in Hollywood, because power corrupts, regardless of gender. But yes more women are needed there, and not just in Shonda Reims series. Shonda was a school for me, and now my eldest daughter comes to the set and sees "She is a strong woman. She sits in the director's chair with headphones, shouts 'Action' and 'Cut', and has grown into an environment where the power feels comfortable and achievable."
Pompeo, by the way, did not want the role at first.
"I went to audition because I needed the money," she told the CBS morning show a few months ago.
"Until then, I was filmed for a few movies, and each time, my role was cut in editing. I was 35, and I felt like I was locked in a box.
"When I was offered the job, I told myself I did not want to get stuck in a medical drama series for six years, because I would probably get bored. But my agent convinced me. Can do whatever I want, or do nothing. "
The corona disrupted some plot lines.
Participants in the current cast in the 17th season of "Grey's Anatomy",
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"Grey's Anatomy" aired in the U.S. in March 2005. ABC preferred to air two other series first, "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives," which eventually played to the network's advantage - the three series became hits. In its first season, it recorded " "Anatomy" averaged 18.5 million viewers per episode, and in the second season rose to 20 million. For four more seasons, she starred in the opening five of the Nielsen ratings.
Over the years, the series has been nominated for 38 Emmy Awards, including twice (in 2006 and 2007) for Best Drama Series, but has won only four times: three in the technical categories (makeup and casting), and one in the Best Supporting Actress category, for actress Catherine Heigl (who played Dr. Izzy Stevens) in 2007. The series also won three Golden Globe Awards - for Best Supporting Actress in 2006 (Sandra Or, who played Dr. Christina Young), Best Leading Actress in 2007 ( Pompeo), and the best drama series in 2007.
The rise of "Anatomy" has been accompanied by quite a few scandals.
The first was Isaiah Washington (Dr. Preston Burke), who in 2007 got into an argument with TR Knight (Dr. George O'Malley) and called him a homosexual derogatory nickname, an incident that was leaked to the media and forced Knight out of the closet.
A few weeks later, Washington repeated the same nickname in the Golden Globes press room.
ABC sharply condemned the matter and fired the player at the end of the season.
Knight lasted two more seasons, but retired at the end of the fifth season on the grounds that he was dissatisfied with his role, which he said "did not develop enough."
"Washington's dismissal was understandable, but the whole deal was handled too hastily," Rice says.
"In today's managerial perception, they would first make sure to have conversations with him accompanied by experts and psychologists, to calm the spirits, and not so easily give up on such a beloved character. They would try to send out a more conciliatory message, that this is an incident that all parties can learn from. In fact, that incident left a stain on the series and also hurt Washington, who failed to rebuild his career. "
The second scandal took place around Katherine Heigl. A year after winning the Emmy (she is the only actor to win the award, the most prestigious in the television industry), Heigl announced that she had not submitted another nomination for the award because the plot did not satisfy her. In doing so, she opened a front in front of the creators and producers and drew criticism that "success came to her mind." In 2009, in the middle of the sixth season, she asked to be released from her contract.
"Heigl's case would have looked different today, in the post-MeToo era," says Lynette Rice.
"True, there is a diva here who says and does what she wants on the set, but the lack of paragon and harassment was very sexist. She is a woman who wanted to express her opinion, express her feelings about the character she plays, and all in all she cared about her interest. And fame even outside the series (starring alongside the series in romantic comedies like 'The Date That Stuck Me' and '27 Dresses'; usually) certainly didn't help anyone who came out against it.
Stick to her the stigma of the villain and the forced actress, which Hollywood has not wanted to employ since.
She admitted that she had a hard time with it to this day. "
In an interview with Rice's book, Heigl claims that it was the preference to focus on motherhood that caused her to leave the series.
"I went on maternity leave and became a mother. It changed my whole point of view. Then I just asked Shonda to stay at home, and I waited for the final confirmation that they would indeed release me from the series."
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The abandonment of "Anatomy" stars, and the deaths of beloved characters, have already become routine.
In January 2020, Justin Chambers, who has been playing Dr. Alex Carb since the first day of the series, abruptly announced that he was leaving in the middle of the season, amid rumors about his mental health and prolonged hospitalization at a private rehab center.
He was followed by Italian Giacomo Gianotti, who played Dr. Andrew de Luca (his character was stabbed to death); Jesse Williams, who played Dr. Jackson Avery for 12 seasons (his character chose to move to Boston and reunite with his wife former);
And Greg German, who played Dr. Tom Koryasik (his character joined Dr. Avery in Boston).
"This is a pretty routine evolution of such an old series," Rice says.
"In most cases, the actors leave because the characters are exhausted, and for writers it helps when new blood arrives. There is a constant need to refresh the brand with a new face, but it's hard to find actors the audience will connect with. Sub-characters like Dr. Richard Weber (James Pickens "Junior), Dr. Miranda Bailey (Sandra Wilson) and Debbie Allen are important, but the main anchor is Alan Pompeo. This is her series, and if she is not - there is no series."
In the new season, some familiar faces are expected to return to Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital.
Kate Walsh returns to play Dr. Edison Montgomery, and Kate Burton returns to play Alice Gray, Meredith's late mother.
But the comeback that might particularly excite viewers is that of Sandra Or.
She left "Anatomy" in 2014 after ten seasons, and in recent years has had great success in the series "Kill Eve" and "The Department of English."
In an interview last May she said: "For me, 'anatomy' is no more. For many it still very much exists, I understand them and love them, but I moved on."
However, the previous season was full of guest appearances as part of the doubtful and not-quite-deciphered plot, in which the corona-sick Meredith meets a host of characters who have died on a mysterious beach.
Some believe that the return of or will be the big surprise at the end of "Anatomy".
"Alan is a businesswoman, she realized that Dempsey's guest role is valuable, and it made a lot of positive noise in the media," Rice says.
"As for the character of Dr. Christina Young, she moved to Switzerland, so I do not know how it will work out.
But if Dempsey surprised, either Sandra or can. "
Will or will there be a comeback?
Christina and Meredith, Photo: Courtesy of yes
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"Anatomy" was Shonda Reims' breakthrough in the television industry.
She continued her engagement with the ABC network on another hit, "Scandal," which aired for seven seasons in 2018-2012, and with "The Killer's Guide," starring Oscar winner Viola Davis, which ran for six seasons (2020-2014).
She also had failures, such as "off the map," "catching," and "for the common good," that did not rise and be eliminated, but they did not damage her reputation.
In 2017, Reims switched to Netflix after receiving a $ 100 million five-year talent contract.
Last December, she picked up another hit, "Bridgerton" - a period drama based on Julia Quinn's books.
In January, the streaming giant announced that it was the most-watched series in its history, with 82 million subscribers watching it.
"The first thing I said to myself before moving to Netflix was 'You're not going to create another series like Anatomy,'" Reims said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.
"'Not a version of the series on a cornfield, not on a baseball field, not at an airport, it's just not going to happen.'"
Although her production company, which she founded in 2005, is still behind "Anatomy," which has been responsible for the series for the past four years, she is its senior screenwriter, Christa Warnoff.
"I felt like I was dying, that I was pushing the same ball up the same hill on the same track for too long," Reims said.
"I wanted to be in a place where I could create, and no one would bother me or make me feel I owed him anything. And Netflix is the cells. My legacy already exists, and now I create, because that's what I love to do. I just want to enjoy what I have achieved."
"'Anatomy' is a brand, and it's still the most watched drama series on the ABC network every year, for a decade," says Rice.
"Although it does not bring in large ratings numbers as in the past, it is still loved. Certainly and certainly when the network does not have a new supply that will be strong enough.
For evidence, they expanded the brand with the subsidiary series 'Private Clinic' (about the plots of Dr. Edison Montgomery), which ran for six seasons and went down in 2017, and with the spin-off 'Station 19' (about Dr. Ben Warren ), Which is now coming up in its fifth season.Even added screenwriter Warnoff, hoping it would help improve viewing figures.
"They've already created several episodes with a joint plot in the two series, including the opening of the new seasons next week, because they're in tough competition with the streaming services, which offer more 'cool' content. Must-see attractions. 17 years is a lot of time, and there are really no new ideas. "But from a business point of view, there is no way they will give up the brand."
What is the secret to the success of "Anatomy"?
What is the secret to the success of "Anatomy"?
"The reruns are on Netflix, and a new, young audience is discovering it. Without these, I doubt the series would have lasted that long. According to ABC data, it attracts mostly women aged 34-18, who get to know the series and start following it.
"While promoting the book, I met a 22-year-old girl from Maryland who has a ticketing account with 200,000 followers, all around 'Grey's Anatomy.'
"I mean, the second wave of viewers are young people coming from social networks, and they'm first and foremost involved in what's going on in the series, and not in everything that was behind the scenes in the early years. It's a different admiration, they're all in the plot. Talk to them. "
How do you imagine the end of the series?
How do you imagine the end of the series?
"I would like to see the series end when Meredith develops Alzheimer's symptoms, just like her mother, Alice. After all, already in the ninth season it turned out that she carries the gene of the disease. Then I would like to see Zola, Meredith's adopted daughter and Derek, dine with her, "Continues her path and becomes a doctor. This is exactly the plot line of Meredith and Alice, and it can be a very desirable closing circle. An exciting ending, mixed with sadness, which is very true to the series."