The Shonda Rhimes-created Grey’s Anatomy has not been officially renewed beyond its current 14th season. But with Pompeo on board, the veteran series, which remains one of the highest-rated dramas on broadcast television, is expected to continue for at least two more seasons, its 15th and 16th.
As part of the new deal, Pompeo became a producer on Grey’s Anatomy starting midway this season. She also will be a co-executive producer on the upcoming untitled Grey’s Anatomy spinoff series.
With the new pact, which I hear will pay Pompeo north of $550,000 per episode, she is expected to become the highest paid actress in television.
The blockbuster deal for Pompeo, who has had an overall deal at ABC Studios for her banner Calamity Jane for the past several years, is very rare.
As one observer put it, “there are very few deals like that, and there are very few shows that have been this successful for this long.”
Not only is Grey’s one of the top drama series on television, it is recruiting new generations of viewers each year as teenagers discover the show on ABC or Netflix, which carries earlier seasons, and join their parents in watching it on the network.
“The show’s hugely successful for Disney, for ABC, so everybody’s incentivized to keep it going,” Pompeo said about the decision to stay on Grey’s. She also credits the return of Krista Vernoff, who rejoined the series as new showrunner this season.
“I was really excited of having a whole completely new fresh voice to write the show,” Pompeo said. “The writing is a lot smarter, and I love what she’s doing. Everybody does actually, the actors are so happy, they’re so energized.”
Would Seasons 15 and 16 be Grey’s final chapters?
“I’ve been saying since season one, ‘We have two more years’,” Pompeo said. “This show, it’s taking on a life of its own, and who knows? We take it season by season really.”
Pompeo has been expanding her playing field the last few years into producing, via her ABC Studios-based Calamity Jane banner, and into directing on Grey’s. It was Pompeo’s skills as a producer that she had demonstrated under her overall deal, combined with her desire to be more deeply involved in the making of Grey’s that led to her producing role on the show and on its upcoming spinoff.
“Producing and directing is where I’m challenged and where I’m learning,” Pompeo said, hinting that Grey’s could be her last gig as an actress. “Acting, I don’t know. If the right role comes along, and it’s interesting, then never say never, but I do have three kids. I don’t necessarily want to travel around. I wouldn’t say it’s my burning desire to go act in something else.”
When Pompeo was cast in the pilot for Grey’s, she admits she never expected the show to go for some long. But it has, and it also has evolved from a female-male lead show with Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey to a female-lead drama after Dempsey’s spring 2015 exit.
Grey’s Anatomy has had a creative and ratings resurgence since then, ranking as ABC’s highest-rated drama for multiple seasons.
What’s more, “(Grey’s) is something that’s been much bigger than a TV show for so many reasons,” Pompeo said. “So I’m extremely proud of the show and everyone that has worked on it in the past, everybody who’s here now. It’s the beginning of a movement, and it’s so special to me for so many reasons.”
To read Pompeo’s full Deadline interview on her new deal, the future of Grey’s and more, click here.
Pompeo has shared in a SAG Drama Ensemble Award and has landed a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Meredith Grey. She is repped by CAA and managed by John Carrabino. Her attorneys are Gretchen Rush and Steve Warren of Hansen Jacobson.