ABC Signature Boss Clarifies His Remarks On Potential ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Spinoff – Update

UPDATE Tuesday AM: After Deadline ran the story about efforts to mount a possible new spinoff of ABC/ABC Signature’s mega hit Grey’s Anatomy based on an interview ABC Signature President Jonnie Davis, he issued a statement regarding comments he made in the interview.

“I would like to clarify some statements I made in a prior interview,” he said. “There are no conversations about a spinoff of Grey’s Anatomy at this time. We are 100 percent focused on producing season 18, with the incredible Krista Vernoff at the helm, and the amazing Ellen Pompeo leading our ensemble and co-executive producing. As the leader of ABC Signature, I meant only to convey my support and optimism for Shonda’s brilliant creation.”

PREVIOUS Monday PM: Grey’s Anatomy continues to rewrite TV history with a Season 18 renewal at ABC where it remains the top scripted series. With spinoff Station 19 coming into its own In Season 4 and finding another gear as part of an integrated two-hour block with Grey’s under showrunner Krista Vernoff, there has been speculation whether the franchise would add a new offshoot.

Last week, Craig Erwich, President, ABC Entertainment and Hulu Originals, told Deadline that the network would be interested in another Grey’s Anatomy offsoot. “We are always open to any iteration that will serve the show and the fans,” he said.

Created by Shonda Rhimes, Grey’s Anatomy, starring Ellen Pompeo, has spawned two successful spinoff series to date, Private Practice and Station 19. While the focus right now is on the upcoming record-breaking Season 18 of Grey’s Anatomy, a potential new spinoff has been discussed on and off for the past year.

“Krista and the team are really digging deep and finding out what that looks like. They are noodling ideas, and I can’t wait to, when we land on what that is to introduce the next phase of Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC Signature President Jonnie Davis told Deadline as part of interviews with the heads of major studios about the major takeaways from the 2021 upfronts. “We will find the next version that will take it to the next 18 years. We’re working on for right now, and there’s no better brains to figure it out than Krista and Shonda.”

Davis cautioned that everyone is very careful about expanding the storied franchise for the right reasons. “it’s important that not just for commerce, it has to be the right idea that meets the moment,” he said.

He marveled over Grey’s longevity.

“You know what’s crazy, my 16-year-old is now devouring Grey’s Anatomy, just found it, she’s starting Season One. The show has just had so much appeal and people who love it already, people who are just finding it,” he said, adding, “Look, we want that show to go on for another 18 years.”

Courtesy of ABC/Richard Cartwright

While a new Grey’s Anatomy spinoff may be more of a distant possibility, a potential offshoot from ABC’s veteran comedy series black-ish is currently active.

Brown-ish is still a concept that is in development, we haven’t rolled out the firm plans around that yet,” Erwich told Deadline last week.

The project, like black-ish, which is headed into its eighth and final season on ABC, and its other spinoffs, grown-ish, which has been a hit for Freeform, and mixed-ish, which ran on ABC for two seasons, are produced by ABC Signature. The expansion of the black-ish universe has been the spearhead by series creator Kenya Barris.

“We’re looking at brown-ish right now,” Davis said. “Kenya had this great idea, saying let’s explore the Latinx experience.”

Barris and his partner on the project, Eva Longoria, have been meeting with Latinx writers.

“That’s a huge priority for us,” Davis said of brown-ish, but cautioned that, again, “it has to be the right idea that meets the moment in culture where we are, and the right writer.”

ABC/Raymond Liu

As Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 and black-ish scored renewals for next season by ABC, newcomer Rebel, the first series created by Grey’s and Station 19 showrunner Krista Vernoff, was canceled by the network after five airings, along with mixed-ish, after two seasons.

Davis called the cancellation of Rebel “a big gut punch”. “We love Krista Vernoff, we made this incredible deal with her,” he said of Vernoff who recently signed a new overall deal with ABC Signature. 

“There’s no better showrunner in town — and a creator by the way — and we were gut-punched about Rebel,” Davis said. “We hoped that was going to get more time to fully find the audience, and if you’re reading the blogs right now, people love that show. We’re still licking our wounds on that one.”