Despite Shonda Rhimes leaving ABC for Netflix, ABC boss Channing Dungey says her relationship with the Shondaland head is as strong as ever, though she recognizes future ventures with Rhimes are still complicated.
Back in August, it was announced that the prolific executive producer of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder will leave the network that made her a household name to join Netflix. Rhimes signed a multi-year deal to produce new series and other projects for the streamer, alongside longtime producing partner Betsy Beers, who will also move to Netflix. Rhimes’ current ABC projects, including the midseason legal entry For the People and the upcoming Grey’s Anatomy spin-off, will all still air on ABC, but any of her subsequent development will have a home at Netflix.
“My relationship with Shonda dates back to my first days in television because my very, very first assignment was working on Grey’s Anatomy,” Dungey told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour. “Our relationship is as strong as its ever been. I’m really excited about the three shows that we have on the air and two we’re about to launch. We had known for a while that Shonda was interested in stretching different sets of creative muscles, and we think we all know that there are different challenges and opportunities in broadcast and different challenges and opportunities in streaming. I wish her all the best as she tries to explore those new options.”
Though Scandal is heading into its final 11 episodes of the series, Grey’s Anatomy shows no signs of slowing down in its 14th season. Pair that with the launch of the Grey’s spinoff and For the People, and Rhimes’ relationship with ABC could continue for years to come. But the question remains whether there’s, say, a loophole that could keep her there longer, like another spinoff of Grey’s Anatomy sometime in the future. “I’m less clear exactly what that means in terms of being able to do subsequent spinoffs of Grey’s Anatomy given the terms of her new deal,” Dungey admits. “We haven’t had any of those conversations yet, but what I do know is that we have her services on Grey’s, the spinoff and the rest of these shows until they finish their runs.”
Asked if the network would be hypothetically allowed to reboot a show like Scandal sometime in the future without Rhimes, Dungey said, “I guess anything is theoretically possible.” But, she added, “I don’t know if Scandal would be Scandal without Shonda, to be perfectly honest. It’s too wrapped up in her DNA.”
Interesting to note, when Scandal ends its run in April, TGIT will effectively be disbanded for the time being. Though the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, which still does not have a title, will follow the flagship, Quantico will be moving into the 10 p.m. ET timeslot.