ABC’s maven of Thursday night primetime, Shonda Rhimes, was on hand at the 2017 Vanity Fair Summit to talk about the decision to strike a mega multi-year deal to move her Shondaland company to streaming giant Netflix after a long tenure at ABC Studios, among other topics.
The Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator cited that the ability to “put something out” all at once “that can be available all over the world” without having to platform the release informed her decision as well as the less restrictive environment.
“There no broadcast standard and practices” or length requirements,” Rhimes said. “I can make something that is an hour and a half and I can make something that is 15 minutes long. There’s no ‘we want to see more of this because that’s what you’ve done before.’ It’s an open road.”
She insisted that it wasn’t the traditional network formula that drove the change. “It’s not like we left it behind,” Rhimes said. “I have six shows that are happening over at ABC. It really was about doing something new and trying something new. After being someplace for 15 years, she said, acknowledging her appreciation for network television, “I reached a point where I could solve problems in my sleep. There was nothing new in terms of the challenges. I thought when you reach that point where you’re that comfortable it’s time to try something new.”
Although Rhimes remained tight-lipped on her future Netflix projects, she said: “There’s a totally open road that Ted [Sarandos] has provided and an absolute clear lane to do whatever I want. They are very excited to go where I want to go.”
During the panel discussion, Rhimes talked about the importance of ownership and knowing your value.
“It’s important to have a stake in what you make,” she said. “I think that that’s been a problem since the beginning of time.” Rhimes noted that Grey’s Anatomy has made about $2 billion for Disney, adding. “I don’t have $2 billion.”
“I think of myself as more of a businesswoman, and I have had to learn what’s important and what is not in terms of not getting screwed financially,” she said. “There’s a lot of people in this town that don’t know what the value of their work. … What’s important is to plant a flag, get a stake and build that up.”
She also touched on the hot-bottom issue of inclusion and lack of the accurate representation in the world of Hollywood.
“It’s an obvious fact that the world looks like what it looks like, which is I don’t walk out and see a sea of white men,: Rhimes said. “That’s not how the world looks to me, and that’s certainly not interesting.”
She added: “There’s a problem with the idea that a movie that stars a white guy is a movie but if it stars a female then it’s a female-driven movie, or if it stars a black person, it’s a black film. There is something inherently ignorant about that.”