Getting real. Shonda Rhimes opened up her choice to leave ABC for Netflix in 2017 after creating many hits for the network — sharing that her breaking point came from an issue with a Disneyland ticket.
In the Hollywood Reporter‘s October cover story, the producer, 50, explained that despite reportedly making more than $2 billion for Disney and earning millions of dollars for herself with her hit show, including Grey’s Anatomy, she had a constant battle with ABC, which is owned by Disney.
“I felt like I was dying,” she said. “Like, I’d been pushing the same ball up the same hill in the exact same way for a really long time.”
Her breaking point came in 2017, over a trip to Disneyland. As part of her contract, the showrunner had an all-inclusive pass and had negotiated a second one for her nanny. However, her pass was not interchangeable so when her sister needed one to take Rhimes’ daughter to the park, she had to go back and forth with the network and was told, “We never do this” multiple times.
The park eventually issued her an extra pass — which would have cost $154 — but it didn’t work when her family arrived at the park. Rhimes then called a “high-ranking executive,” who allegedly asked her, “Don’t you have enough?”
With that, she called her lawyer and asked to go to Netflix. Later that year, she signed a deal that is reportedly worth $150 million. Before the deal, she met with Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and she was very clear about her hopes for the switch.
“The first thing I said was, ‘You’re not going to get another Grey’s Anatomy — not Grey’s Anatomy in a cornfield, Grey’s Anatomy on a baseball field or Grey’s Anatomy at an airport. That’s just not happening,’” the producer, who also created Station 19 and How to Get Away With Murder, recalled. “He said, ‘I’d never expect it to.’”
She continued: “I said, ‘I just want to be in a place where I can make stuff and no one’s going to bother me or make me feel like I’m beholden,’ and he was like, ‘That sounds great to me.’”