1:12pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Grey's Anatomy' Showrunner Krista Vernoff Inks ABC Studios Overall Deal (Exclusive)
Krista Vernoff is putting down roots.
The Grey's Anatomy showrunner has signed a multiyear overall deal with ABC Studios. Additionally, Vernoff and her producing partner — and husband — Alexandre Schmitt have launched Trip the Light Productions. Vernoff will serve as president of the company, while Schmitt will be president of production and development. Under the pact, the banner will create and develop new projects for the studio behind the long-running Shondaland medical drama. Vernoff will continue to serve as showrunner on Grey's Anatomy.
Vernoff, who wrote and executive produced Grey's Anatomy for its first eight seasons, was hand-picked by creator Shonda Rhimes to take over as showrunner on the series after former co-showrunner Stacy McKee departed to focus on the spinoff Station 19 and as Rhimes moved her overall deal to Netflix.
"Alex and I are thrilled to be making a creative home for Trip the Light Productions at ABC Studios," Vernoff said Tuesday in a statement. "Showrunning Grey's Anatomy has been a career high for me, and the support from the studio has been unparalleled. I look forward to continuing in my role at Grey's, while also creating new content across all platforms with Trip the Light, where we aim to illuminate and elevate the human condition through storytelling with humor, heart, and a healthy dose of rabble rousing."
Vernoff — who made her directorial debut in November — has been outspoken about timely issues surrounding Hollywood including the #MeToo movement, salary parity and more. Under her oversight, Grey's Anatomy has taken on a number of topical subjects, including unconscious bias, while advancing the types of stories for trans characters and actors.
For his part, Schmitt — a native of France who graduated from UCLA Film School — spent a decade in Paris producing commercials and music videos as well as working as an AD on features alongside the likes of Bernardo Bertolucci and Franco Zeffirelli. He joined digital agency Schematic in 2005, where he helped grow the company and oversaw multimillion-dollar accounts while leading user interface designs for BMW, Sony's PlayStation 4 and more. Schmitt earned an Emmy nomination for creative achievement in interactive media/user experience and visual design for his work with Cablevision on the Onyx for Optimum TV experience.
Vernoff's deal arrives as many showrunners have been thinking twice about signing with traditional studios as streamers such as Netflix have been aggressive about recruiting talent with eight- and nine-figure deals for the likes of Rhimes, Ryan Murphy and Kenya Barris. After Rhimes exited her ABC Studios deal for Netflix, the streamer was expected to recruit many of her top lieutenants. Scandal grad Chris Van Dusen, who started and has spent his entire career working within Shondaland, signed an overall deal with Netflix, while How to Get Away With Murder creator Pete Nowalk renewed his overall with ABC Studios.
"We’re so happy to extend and enhance our relationship with Krista," said ABC Studios president Patrick Moran. "She’s been an incredible asset for our studio at the helm of Grey’s Anatomy. We couldn’t ask for a better leader and creative talent on this groundbreaking series."
Currently in its 15th season, Grey's Anatomy is poised to break ER's record as TV's longest-running medical drama. (An airdate for the episode has not yet been determined.) The Ellen Pompeo-led drama ranks as ABC's No. 1 series for the 2018-19 broadcast season. The show is averaging an impressive 3.1 rating among the all-important adults 18-49 demographic. Grey's Anatomy, already ABC's longest-running primetime drama, will likely continue as long as Pompeo wants to do it; her contract runs through season 16. A renewal has not yet been announced, but it is considered a formality.
Vernoff, whose credits include the Grey's Anatomy spinoff Private Practice and Showtime's Shameless, is repped by CAA and Jackoway Austen.