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Krista Vernoff isn’t leaving Disney anytime soon.
The Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 and Rebel showrunner has inked a rich new two-year overall deal extension with Disney’s ABC Signature. Vernoff will continue to oversee all three shows as well as create and develop new projects for the studio via her Trip the Light Productions banner that she runs with her husband and producing partner Alexandre Schmitt. Additionally, Kasha Foster has been tapped to serve as Trip the Light’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Krista Vernoff is a superstar who makes the almost impossible task of running three shows seem like a reasonable amount of work,” said Walt Disney TV entertainment chairman Dana Walden. “‘I am honestly in awe of her. Everyone at the studio and network is grateful for the tremendous job she’s done on the amazing Shondaland shows, and we are proud to be launching Krista’s first creation, Rebel, on ABC in two weeks. The optimism, intellectual curiosity and quest for social justice embodied in its title character are traits that could easily apply to Krista herself, and those are just a few of the qualities that make us feel lucky to work with her every day.”
The pact is Vernoff’s latest with ABC and comes two years after her last deal with the studio. The news arrives amid renewal talks for Grey’s Anatomy as Disney negotiates a new deal with star Ellen Pompeo. Sources tell THR that a renewal for the Shondaland-produced medical drama is imminent as Pompeo and Disney continue to hammer out financial terms that will continue to make her TV’s highest-paid actress on a primetime drama series.
Vernoff wrote and executive produced Grey’s Anatomy for its first seven seasons and 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. She added Station 19 to her purview ahead of the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff’s third season. The firefighter-focused spinoff is currently awaiting word on its fifth season and is likely to return.
In addition to running both Grey’s and Station 19, Vernoff has drama Rebel — her first series pickup out of 13 script sales in her career — set to bow April 8. The Erin Brockovich-inspired drama means Vernoff will serve as showrunner and exec producer on ABC’s entire Thursday night lineup. That puts Vernoff in an elite group of showrunners/producers to be responsible for an entire night of primetime programming (think Rhimes, Chuck Lorre, Dick Wolf and Greg Berlanti, to name a few).
Vernoff’s new pact comes as Grey’s continues to be a massive asset for Disney. In its 17th season, Grey’s remains ABC’s No. 1 scripted drama among total viewers and the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demogrpahic. Grey’s — also one of Netflix’s top acquired originals — has continued to thrive under Vernoff, who has tackled timely subjects and brought back original stars. The 17th season has put COVID-19 atop its call sheet as Grey’s tackles the impact of the pandemic on every facet of the medical community. With Grey’s renewal talks going down to the wire, Vernoff told THR earlier this month that she was plotting a season finale as well as a potential series ender.
“We’re so grateful for the enthusiastic support and creative freedom afforded us by Dana, [ABC Signature president] Jonnie [Davis], and all our wonderful partners at ABC Signature,” Vernoff said. “We’re thrilled to continue and deepen our relationship with the studio — we couldn’t think of a better place to call home.”
Vernoff is repped by UTA and Hansen Jacobson.
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