From Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA coverage:
Even at a panel session Monday morning promoting her next ABC drama series — the midseason medical hour Off the Map, premiering Wednesday night at 10 — Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice creator Shonda Rhimes can’t get away from the “What have you done for me lately?” mentality. Several questions about her next greenlit pilot project centering on the work of “a professional fixer” were lobbed at her during the TCA powwow in Pasadena, briefly catching her offguard.
“We’re really supposed to be here talking about Off the Map,” she reasoned, before answering a question about what it is a professional fixer does. “It’s a crisis manager,” Rhimes said, “loosely based on a real professional fixer named Judy Smith, who shepherded Monica Lewinsky and the Chandra Levy families through their scandals and issues as well as those of many others. My fixer is not necessarily Judy Smith but is based a lot on her…It resolves around the life of a fixer and her fairly dysfunctional staff based in Washington, D.C.”
That’s how life is for the most successful female independent producer working in TV. Rhimes has one show (Grey’s) in its seventh season, one (Private Practice) in its fourth and a third (Off the Map) just getting started, leaving her lamenting on Monday, “I very much wish I had a clone out there. There’s no such thing for me as a typical day. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I’m at Private Practice. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’m at Grey’s. On Fridays, I’m at (production company) Shondaland. I’m between, I’m at my office. Am I a multitasker? Well, if I wasn’t, I’d be fired by now.”
For the moment, most of her attention goes to Off the Map, which follows the lives of six doctors “who have lost their way” and wind up practicing in South America. It was created by Jenna Bans, who exec produces with Rhimes and Betsy Beers.
Rhimes was asked on Monday if this show is, as charged, Grey’s Anatomy in the jungle. “No, it’s not,” she replied. “Why? Because it’s not. Jenna’s not writing Grey’s Anatomy but a show with her own voice in a unique location. (The show shoots in Hawaii on the Lost set.) Believe me, this isn’t Grey’s. For one thing, I’m not sure what an anesthesiologist would do in the jungle.”
The Off the Map ensemble cast includes Mamie Gummer, also known as the daughter of Meryl Streep. Gummer, part of the Mondya panel, maintained that she and her famous mom don’t talk shop at home and therefore her mother doesn’t work to impart sage advice. “It’s not like we own a line of pizza joints and there’s this secret ingredient she has to pass along,” Gummer said.
Rhimes said she basically keeps a secondary role to Band in the running of map and is happy that’s the case, having all she can handle with her other shows. She said after the session that she can see an end date to “Grey’s” but isn’t sure it will be. “But come on, it’s going to end at some point,” she assured. “I don’t want my daughter running the show.”