The highest-rated drama telecast ever to air after the Super Bowl was ABC’s Thursday 9 PM series Grey’s Anatomy in 2006, during the show’s second season. The episode, crafted as the opening hour of a two-part storyline, drew 37.9 million viewers, with the conclusion on Thursday also garnering blockbuster ratings. NBC‘s head of scheduling Jeff Bader, who orchestrated the Grey’s Super Bowl scheduling while at ABC, is taking a page out of that rule book with The Blacklist. Also in its second season and about to move into the Thursday 9 PM slot, The Blacklist landed the post-Super Bowl spot on February 1 before it makes its Thursday debut February 5. At NBC’s upfront presentation today, chairman Bob Greenblatt announced that the episodes will be a two-part arc, clearly intended to give The Blacklist‘s Thursday premiere a hefty boost. Also at the presentation, Greenblatt promised more crossovers among Dick Wolf’s three NBC series: Law & Order: SVU, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD, and confirmed that the final season of Parks & Recreation will be 13 epsidoes.
Related: Jeff Bader’s First Big Test: Fixing NBC’s Thursday Night
UPDATED: If you haven’t figured out the pattern of ABC‘s renewals, the network is starting with all current series from sibling ABC Studios that it wants to bring back. As should be expected, dramas are first, beginning with the obvious ones: Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy, picked up for Season 11; Rhimes’ Scandal, ordered for Season 4 (Rhimes-produced pilot How To Get Away With Murder just got a series pickup too); the entire ABC Sunday drama lineup: Once Upon A Time (for season 4), rookie Resurrection (for Season 2) and Revenge (for Season 4) as well as Monday veteran Castle for Season 7. The only dramas missing from the list are freshman Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is under Marvel’s purview and could be bundled with Agent Carter, and Nashville, which is a co-production with Lionsgate TV, so it may be in a different category.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Sandra Oh will be the only Grey’s Anatomy original cast member with an expiring contract to depart after this season. All others have now signed new deals to continue on the veteran medical drama. That includes co-stars Sara Ramirez, James Pickens Jr., Chandra Wilson and Justin Chambers who have renewed their contracts with Grey’s producer ABC Studios for two more years, joining leads Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo who inked new pacts in January. With everyone on board, an 11th season renewal for the series from Shonda Rhimes is considered a formality.
EXCLUSIVE: Grey’s Anatomy is bidding adieu to two recent cast additions. I’ve learned that series regulars Tessa Ferrer and Gaius Charles are not getting their contracts picked up for next season. It is unclear whether they could make guest appearances in the future. Ferrer and Charles, along with Camilla Luddington and Jerikka Hinton, joined ABC‘s Grey’s Anatomy as recurring last season, playing new interns. All four got promoted to regular heading into the current 10th season of the medical drama, which is poised to return next fall after stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey inked new deals to continue on the show. Ferrer’s Leah Murphy is a second-year resident who has been involved with Alex (Justin Chambers) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw). Fellow resident Shane Ross (Charles) has been romantically linked to Stephanie (Hinton) and Cristina (Sandra Oh). This also marks the final season for original Grey’s Anatomy cast member Oh. Other notable Grey’s alums include Isaiah Washington — who is returning for Oh’s farewell — T.R. Knight, Katherine Heigl, Chyler Leigh and Eric Dane.
Related: TCA: Patrick Dempsey Candid About ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Gig – “It’s About Surviving”
Original Grey’s Anatomy cast member Isaiah Washington will be making a return to the veteran ABC medical drama seven years after his controversial exit. Washington will appear in a May episode that will mark the departure of fellow original Grey‘s co-star Sandra Oh. He will reprise his role as Dr. Preston Burke, whose romantic relationship with Oh’s Christina Yang was a major storyline on Grey’s first three seasons. In Washington’s final episode, Burke called off his nuptials with Yang on the day of their wedding. “It’s important to me that Cristina’s journey unfolds exactly as it should. Burke is vital to that journey — he gives her story that full-circle moment we need to properly say goodbye to our beloved Cristina Yang,” Grey’s creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes said. Washington departed Grey’s Anatomy in June 2007 when his option was not picked up following a rocky third season when the actor faced accusations of using homophobic slur in reference to gay co-star T.R. Knight in October 2006 and flamed the controversy with ill-advised comments about the incident at the Golden Globes. Washington’s return echoes the cameo George Clooney made in the final ER episode of his longtime on-screen love interest, Julianna Margulies. Of course, Clooney departed under far less controversial circumstances, bringing extra attention to Washington’s comeback.
One of TV’s favorite couples will remain intact. After lengthy but pretty straightforward negotiations, Grey’s Anatomy stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey have signed new two-year contracts to return to the veteran medical drama — paving the way for an 11th-season renewal, which is considered a formality. While fellow original cast member Sandra Oh announced in August that she would depart the show at the end of her current contract in May and Dempsey made some ambiguous comments around the same time that he might be ready for a change, it became clear going into the fall that no other original Grey’s Anatomy cast members were expected to follow Oh out the door. Negotiations focused on the two leads, Dempsey and Pompeo. With their contracts done, the spotlight is expected to shift to re-signing the remaining Grey’s players whose contracts are up at the end of this season: Justin Chambers, James Pickens Jr. and Chandra Wilson. Read More »
Bad news for ABC — better news maybe for Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey: Sandra Oh has announced she’s leaving Grey’s Anatomy at the end of the ABC drama’s upcoming 10th season. “It’s been a great privilege to play the character of Cristina Yang on GA and I am both sad and excited to see where this, her final season will take her,” Oh said in this afternoon’s statement, calling it an emotional and “deeply creative decision” to leave.
Pompeo and Dempsey’s contracts also are up at the end of the coming season, and ABC presumably won’t want any more of the series majors to exit. That’s always a good bargaining position. Dempsey made news the recent Summer TCA Press Tour, when he told a ballroom full of press — while promoting a car-racing show for Velocity network called Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans – that his passion in life is car racing, and acting is what he does to support that habit. Some mention may have been made of the redundancy of Grey’s storylines. Eyebrows around the room shot up. And a few days later, at the Press Tour, the reporters asked ABC programming chief Paul Lee if Dempsey was leaving and/or Grey’s was toast after this season. Lee responded, emphatically — as did ABC today in the wake of Oh’s announcement — that ABC intended to have the steamy doc drama on the primetime lineup “for many years.” At that time, Lee said he would not discuss possible cast changes — the press assumed he was talking about Dempsey — because he didn’t want to be yelled at by show creator Shonda Rhimes.
Read More »
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Patrick Dempsey admitted this morning that working as an actor in a long-running series like ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy can’t hold a candle to the excitement of being a race car driver. Dempsey was at TCA to promote the testosterone-encrusted Velocity network’s documentary miniseries Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans, which depicts the actor training for and competing in the famed 24-hour race. It premieres August 28. He made it clear during the session that, as Grey‘s comes up on 10 years and 200 episodes, it gets tougher and tougher to motivate himself on the set. “Work on a TV show doesn’t change,” Dempsey said. “In a race, it changes constantly, every lap, every corner, every moment of that day. And that’s very exciting. And it keeps me alive. And then I can go back to work and enjoy it. … There’s a purity to (racing) that’s missing from the work I do as an actor,” he said.
As for Grey’s? “I’m not the creator, I’m not the writer, so it’s a trade. And that’s fine,” he said. “But when you’ve been on a show (for nearly 200 episodes), it’s about surviving. You find ways to turn yourself on with the material you’re given. … For me at this point, there’s not a lot of homework that … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Grey’s Anatomy is wrapping up its ninth season tonight but Camilla Luddington has a scary summer ahead of her. The actress, who plays Dr. Jo Wilson on the ABC medical drama this year, is set to star in indie horror movie The Pact II. Luddington will take on the lead role of June Abbott in the film. The character is plagued by nightmares of serial killer Judas, who she discovers she has a far closer relationship with than previously imagined. Patrick Fischler and Scott Michael Foster have also been cast in the sequel to the Nicholas McCarthy written and directed 2012 movie as FBI profiler Greg Ballard and June’s cop boyfriend Daniel Meyer. Directed by Dallas Hallam and Patrick Horvath, The Pact II is set to start filming in mid June. Ross Dinerstein is producing with Juliana Cardarelli co-producing. A regular on Californication this past season, Fischler is repped by Abrams Artists and Main Title. Foster, who has also been on the Showtime series as well as the now summer Saturdays bound Zero Hour, is repped by UTA and Consortium Entertainment. Luddington, who herself also was on a previous season of Californication as well as doing the voice-over and body motion captures for Lara Croft in the latest Tomb Raider video game, is repped by UTA and Main Title.
ABC is changing things up in scheduling some of its serialized dramas. Taking a page from the cable model, the network will air what ABC president Paul Lee called “a selected group” of dramas in two uninterrupted runs, one in the fall and one in the spring, bridged by limited series. The series that will follow the new scheduling pattern include Once Upon A Time, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and likely Revenge, with others TBD. So far, the network only has set up a bridge series for Once, new adventure reality series The Quest. Lee said such bridge series won’t necessarily be all unscripted. Two cycles of 12 episodes would bring the total orders for the shows to 24, which is hard on a complex, serialized drama, but Lee indicated that number has not been set in stone. He said that the network is looking to further shake up the traditional broadcast scheduling model with “quality launches” throughout the season. Lee also said that new fall drama Betrayal is designed as a limited series, airing 12-13 episodes a season. The same applies to midseason drama Resurrection, which will replace it in the Sunday 10 PM slot in midseason.
Related: ABC 2013-14 Schedule Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo has signed with WME. For over a decade she had been at CAA, which got her the star-making role as Dr. Meredith Grey on ABC’s hit medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. Pompeo continues to be managed by John Carrabino.
Big life celebrations scored in the ratings last night. The Liz Lemon wedding episode of NBC’s departing 30 Rock drew a 1.3/4 in adults 18-49 and 3.6 million viewers. That was up 8% from its last original two weeks ago and the comedy’s best demo rating since Oct. 11 and largest viewership this season. Meanwhile, ABC’s sophomore drama Scandal (2.2/6) popped 10% from its last episode two weeks ago to hit a season high. (In adults 18-34, it hit a series high). That is with Scandal‘s lead-in, Grey’s Anatomy (3.0/8), dipping 6% from two weeks ago to tie its season low. No dead cat bounce for ABC’s Last Resort. In its first airing post cancellation news, the freshman drama (1.0/3) fell 17% from two weeks ago to a series low.
Fox’s Glee (2.2/6), which featured the latest cover of Psy’s ubiquitous Gangham Style, bounced back 47% following the depressed numbers last week when the network aired originals on Thanksgiving. (Fox’s fast nationals for last night may be slightly inflated because of an NFL preemption in New Orleans). The X Factor (2.7/8) was actually down a tenth from last week’s telecast, which was boosted by a football lead-in. Read More »
Is the black hole known as ABC’s Thursday 8 PM slot ready to swallow another high-profile scripted series? Shawn Ryan’s well received submarine drama Last Resort launched to a modest 2.2 rating/share in adults 18-49 last night. That was just a tenth better than last fall’s debut of the now-defunct Charlie’s Angels in the hour but qualifies as ABC’s best drama debut in the slot in three years as My Generation was DOA in the period in 2010. ABC continues to dispatch new scripted fare to the Thursday 8 PM slot where it’s only had success with the unscripted Wipeout for the past few years.
Last Resort was one of two new series to premiere last night. The other, CBS’ Sherlock Holmes drama Elementary, did better, winning the 10 PM slot with a 3.1/9 in 18-49 and 13.3 million total viewers. It built on its lead-in (2.9/8), a rare feat for a 10 PM show, and it was up by 11% in the demo from the season premiere of The Mentalist in the time slot last fall. One encouraging sign for Last Resort was the 15% 18-49 rise from the first to the second half-hour. (Elementary‘s demo rating slipped by 9% from the first to the second half-hour.) Read More »