As part of her ABC relationship, Rhimes had been given an all-inclusive pass to Disneyland — and without a partner, she’d negotiated a second for her nanny.
If the passes had been interchangeable, Rhimes would have been happy to give up hers — when would she have time to go to Disneyland anyway?
That August, the news became official: Rhimes would be leaving her creative hub of 15 years for a first-of-its-kind, nine-figure overall deal at Netflix.
Now, more than three years after her deal was signed, Rhimes, 50, will at last release her first two projects for the service, a documentary about director, choreographer and philanthropist Debbie Allen (dropping Nov. 27) and the period drama Bridgerton (Dec. 25), though neither is her creation.
Netflix’s roughly 200 million subscribers will have to wait at least a few months longer for Rhimes’ baby, Inventing Anna, about the infamous SoHo grifter Anna Sorokin, alias Anna Delvey.*** Rhimes’ eye first started to wander in the fall of 2016, when she agreed to meet Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos for breakfast at the L.A. restaurant République, an industry favorite.
“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,’ and he said, ‘I’d never expect it to,’ ” says Rhimes, who had every intention of keeping her flagship series running at ABC regardless of whether she herself stayed put.
At one point, after she had confessed to loving the since-canceled Netflix series Luke Cage, he personally delivered DVDs of the next season to Rhimes’ house.
And though her longtime producing partner, Betsy Beers, waxes on about the creative freedoms and the opportunity they’ve had to “be pioneers” at Netflix, Rhimes acknowledges that there was a sizable adjustment period.
“We’d spent a long time in build mode at Netflix, so I recognized it — it’s almost like a nesting period,” says Sarandos, sharing a story from Rhimes’ first year at the company when he’d invited her to a dinner he was hosting at his home and he didn’t hear back.
Sarandos followed up a few weeks later to see what had happened, and Rhimes told him she didn’t feel she could come have dinner until she “had something on the board.
“But in February 2018, before Rhimes had even found a first project to sink her teeth into, Murphy inked his deal, reportedly worth as much as $300 million, or double Rhimes’ then-reported sum, and the media narrative shifted.
And though Rhimes’ pact is said to have been woefully underreported — it’s a mix of less guaranteed cash than Murphy’s but, in success, considerably more backend, per multiple sources — she opted not to do any press or correct the figures being floated at the time.
Rhimes couldn’t help but marvel, as she’d do again a couple of years later when Murphy began churning out new fare for the streamer at a stunning pace.
After being introduced by her Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo, who had been vocal about her own dealmaking process earlier that year, Rhimes stepped up to the podium determined to own her shit.
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