7:29am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Shonda Rhimes Inks New Overall Deal With ABC Studios
Shonda Rhimes is staying put at ABC Studios.
The prolific producer has inked a new four-year overall deal to remain with the studio through May 2018, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Rhimes and producing partner Betsy Beers' Shondaland banner is behind the network's two most valuable series -- veteran Grey's Anatomy and red-hot drama Scandal. Both were renewed last week for their 11th and fourth seasons, respectively.
They will be joined by upcoming drama How to Get Away With Murder, written by Grey's scribe Peter Nowalk with Rhimes and Beers on board to produce. The drama, starring Viola Davis, ranks as one of the most highly anticipated new series for the 2014-15 season and was considered a front-runner for a series pickup throughout pilot season. This will mark the third time in Rhimes' career that she has had three shows on ABC's schedule. Her credits include Kate Walsh's Private Practice and Hawaii-set medical drama Off the Map, from writer/EP Jenna Bans.
Scandal, the fast-paced Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn starrer inspired by the life of fixer Judy Smith, achieved mega-hit status in its third season. regularly topping lead-in Grey's Anatomy and averaging a 3.0 among adults 18-49, growing to a 4.6 when seven days of DVR viewing is added. Among total viewers, Scandal's 9 million weekly average grows to nearly 13 million when adding seven days of DVR for its third season, which was trimmed to 18 episodes to accommodate Emmy nominee Washington's pregnancy.
This season the political thriller catapulted to must-see status, earning its first Peabody Award to go alongside its Emmy for guest star Dan Bucatinsky (whose character was killed off this season). Supporting players Bellamy Young and Guillermo Diaz are generating Emmy buzz again this season.
As for Grey's Anatomy, the medical drama still remains one of ABC's top franchises, with a massive global audience. While star Sandra Oh will depart this week after 10 seasons, original stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey both inked new two-year deals to remain on the medical drama. They'll be joined by original stars Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr. and Justin Chambers -- as well as Sara Ramirez -- who also signed new two-year deals to return, signaling at least a likely 12th season. The series is ABC's longest-running scripted drama.
Rhimes will continue as showrunner, with Stacy McKee and Bill Harper taking over as co-head writers in place of co-showrunners Tony Phelan and Joan Rater, who exited for a development deal at CBS Television Studios. In its 10th season, Grey's ranks as ABC's top DVR performer, adding nearly 2 million viewers among adults 18-49 to average a 4.6 in the demo and 12.5 million total viewers including seven days of delayed viewing, all with practically no lead-ins as ABC continues to struggle on Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Rhimes is ABC's most valuable producer. Scandal, a massive hit thanks in part to the cast's live tweets, has become the network's crown jewel.
Rhimes is repped by ICM Partners and Gendler & Kelly.