10:24am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Grey's Anatomy' Stars Negotiating New Contracts
The stars of ABC's Grey's Anatomy have found themselves in a new position.
Leading lady Ellen Pompeo (Meredith) as well as original co-stars Chandra Wilson (Bailey), James Pickens Jr. (Richard) and Justin Chambers (Alex) in addition to Sara Ramirez (Callie) and Kevin McKidd (Owen) are all negotiating new contracts, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The stars find themselves in a new position that they haven't been in since before the Paul Lee era at ABC: the network, under new entertainment group president Channing Dungey, handed out an early renewal in March for the Shondaland medical drama.
Sources tell THR that Pompeo is expected to return to the Shonda Rhimes/Betsy Beers drama, though negotiations are still ongoing for her new deal. (Her current pact expires at the end of season 12.) The actress declined comment about her contract status during THR's late-April visit to the show's Hollywood set.
"I think for me creatively, the show has always been Ellen; that is the heart of the show. I'm not going to comment on whether or not the show would fold without her but that is where I am interested in writing," Rhimes told THR in January.
Pompeo currently ranks among the highest paid actresses on TV with her 2015 earnings — including endorsements — coming in at $11.5 million, according to Forbes' estimates. (She trails Modern Family's Sofia Vergara and Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco, who tied for first with $28.5 million each; and Modern Family's Julie Bowen, with $12 million.)
As for Wilson, Pickens and Chambers — the trio who with Pompeo are the final four remaining stars who remain from the pilot — all three are also expected to return for season 13. Their two-year deals, along with Pompeo, expire at the end of season 12.
The biggest question remains Ramirez, whose fan-favorite Callie is currently mulling a move from Seattle to New York but is hung up in a custody battle with ex-wife Arizona (Jessica Capshaw, whose deal runs through a potential season 14). A recent tweet from Ramirez sparked an internet frenzy from the Grey's faithful who fear that she may be exiting the Shondaland drama this season.
"That's a wrap for Doctor #CallieTorres #Season13 #GreysAnatomy #ThankYou for an enriching & unforgettable #Rollercoaster ride!" she wrote April 27. The tweet, while referencing next season, could have been a way for the actress to celebrate her season wrap or be an attempt for Ramirez to leverage her fanbase to score a more lucrative contract.
Grey's Anatomy has become a bit of a marvel in its 12th season. The veteran soap is poised to finish the 2015-16 broadcast season as ABC's highest-rated drama among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic — a rarity for a show in its 12th year. The series, which last season shockingly parted ways with star Patrick Dempsey despite a year left on the actor's deal, is among the top five dramas on all broadcast and remains a key part of the studio's international business.
Rhimes, for her part, attributed that success to Pompeo and Meredith. "We are following this woman's journey and the journey of all these people with her. It's not about a lot of tricks; it's about watching people evolve," Rhimes told THR.
ABC declined comment.