April 17, 2012 9:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Private Practice': Spoilerphobe Shonda Rhimes Uses Scoop to Promote Move to Tuesdays
In January, when ABC moved Shonda Rhimes' PrivatePractice from its longtime home on Thursdays following Grey's Anatomy, the fate of the Kate Walsh medical drama was immediately put into question.
Could the Grey's Anatomy spinoff find a safe home without the benefit of its predecessor as a lead-in? Would it flourish win the post-Dancing With the Stars slot on Tuesdays at 10 p.m.? Would the success of Rhimes' third show, Scandal -- which would be taking over its time slot -- spell doom for Private Practice?
"I really like the show and I feel like show has done its job for the network and I feel like the show has been very strong, so I'm hopeful," Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter this month when asked if she's confident the series could return for a sixth season. "The fans are very engaged and that's really wonderful."
For her part, the closely guarded showrunner has embraced engaged fans via Twitter since Private Practice's last original episode aired March 15 and offered a string of juicy "tease of the day" spoilers to whet viewers' appetites -- and groom them for the move to Tuesdays.
"PP News of the Day: At the end of our next new PP episode, there will be MAJOR NEWS - HAPPY news! #April17," Rhimes tweeted on March 22. Could Walsh's Addison Montgomery finally be getting a baby of her own after more than five seasons (yes, we're including Grey's!) of angst?
ABC has not yet renewed any of its bubble series, including Private Practice -- whose last original installment on Thursday, March 15, drew 6.85 million total viewers and a 2.1 rating in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic following an original hour of Grey's and against competition that included the NCAA Tournament.
Rhimes becomes the latest showrunner to use spoilers in a bid to lure eyeballs, joinng the likes of Cougar Town co-creators Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel. The duo behind the Courteney Cox comedy revealed major plot points -- including how the season would end -- for its 15-episode run after the show was left off ABC's midseason schedule. (Its third season opened Feb. 14 after nine months off the air, posting a series low in its new time slot on Tuesdays, picking up for the axed Work It.)
In addition to teasing what's to come on the primetime soap, Rhimes has also used the social networking platform to dispel rumors that the success of her D.C.-set political fixer drama Scandal, starring Kerry Washington, would mean the end of Private Practice. She has frequently reminded her more than 150,000 followers what will: "Once again: Scandal doing well does not impact PP. What impacts PP is people watching PP on Tuesdays at 10 starting April 17th," she wrote.
Meanwhile, Private Practice cast members aren't worried about the move to Tuesdays. "Why worry? This stuff is so unpredictable," KaDee Strickland (Charlotte) told THR this month. "We have a great show, our fans love us. I'm confident about it. I've had a great experience and it'll continue. I'm not worried."
Here are nine more spoilers, courtesy of Rhimes' Twitter page, to look forward to when Private Practice returns Tuesday at 10 p.m. on ABC.
1. "Sheldon and Jake will go to battle over a patient when Private Practice returns Tuesdays at 10 pm!!" Rhimes wrote April 10.
2. "PP Tease of the Day: There will be at least one VERY heated basketball game coming up for two of our docs when PP returns on TUES April17!" Rhimes wrote April 4.
3. "PP Tease of the Day: Jake will reveal MUCH MORE about his past and ex-wife - when the rest of PP season 5 returns Tues April 17th at 10 pm!" Rhimes wrote April 2.
4. "PP Tease of the Day: Addison will walk out on her therapist sometime during our remaining PP eps! PP returns TUESDAY April 17 at 10 pm!" Rhimes wrote March 30.
5. "PP TEASE OF THE DAY: One of our couples will try counseling when PP eps return Tues April 17...," Rhimes wrote March 29.
6. "PP TEASE OF THE DAY: Lots of juiciness coming up for Violet and Pete fans! PP returns Tues April 17th!" Rhimes wrote March 28.
8. "All I can tell you is that the PP finale and the GA finale are both going to have shocking endings," Rhimes wrote March 23.
9. "PP Juicy Tease of the Day: One of our docs will be looking for a new place to live... New PP eps begin Tues April 17th!" Rhimes wrote March 23.
Will you make the move with Private Practice?