‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Station 19’ Bosses Take the Reins of Shondaland’s Broadcast Slate: ‘It Is a Big, Overwhelming Job’

Meg Marinis, Peter Paige and Zoanne Clack tell TheWrap about the end of ABC’s firefighter spin-off and the longevity of TV’s longest-running medical drama

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Ellen Pompeo in "Grey's Anatomy" and Jaina Lee Ortiz in "Station 19." (ABC)

Shondaland’s broadcast TV slate is under new management, tasked with preserving the groundbreaking legacy of ABC’s long-running franchise.

The beloved dramas “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19” welcomed new showrunners this season after longtime executive producer Krista Vernoff’s exit, with Meg Marinis steering the flagship medical drama’s landmark 20th season, and Peter Paige and Zoanne Clack leading the firefighter spin-off through its farewell installment. The responsibility is no small feat for all three writer-producers, who’ve been key players in the Shondaland creative team for years now.

“It is a big, overwhelming job,” Marinis, who first joined “Grey’s” as a medical researcher in Season 3, told TheWrap. “I feel like I’ve been training for this for a while, and now I’m in it. It started off a little weird with the writer’s strike, but now we’re here.”

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“Grey’s Anatomy” showrunner Meg Marinis, and “Station 19” showrunners Zoanne Clack and Peter Paige. (Shondaland)

The franchise is anchored by “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC’s most popular drama series and the longest-running medical drama in TV history, returning for 10 episodes this spring. Its firefighter-centered spin-off will wrap up after seven seasons with more than 100 episodes under its belt. Both shows have been praised as pioneers of inclusive storytelling in the broadcast space, averaging 10.7 million and 8.3 million total viewers, respectively, based on 35 days of delayed viewing across platforms.

“We were so happy to have the chance to land the plane,” Clack told TheWrap of ending “Station 19” on their terms. Hollywood’s historic double strike delayed the return of both shows to spring 2024, with the “Station 19” team receiving news that the 10-episode Season 7 would be its last. “We wanted to be true to the characters and to the lore of the show, to satisfy fans and make a great [ending],” Clack said.

But fans are not ready to give up without a fight. The show’s final season announcement in December sparked public outcry from viewers, who’ve since flooded social media, started petitions and even ordered billboards to raise awareness of their efforts to get “Station 19” rescued by another network (Paige and Clack both said they’ve heard no discussion of a potential move for the series).

“The fans’ passion for the show is very moving and reminds us that we’ve been given something very precious to carry [to the finish line], which we take very, very seriously,” Paige told TheWrap. “No matter how things play out — whether there’s some Hail Mary, 11th hour save because the ratings are just so incredible that they’re undeniable, or not — we really appreciate the love.”

The end of “Station 19” also brings a reduced footprint for the “Grey’s” universe. The medical drama previously birthed the spin-off series “Private Practice,” centered around Kate Walsh’s Addison Montgomery, which ran for six seasons from 2007-2013. After picking up the mantle of the flagship series, Marinis said any future spin-offs are on the backburner — but not completely off the table.

“I’m just focusing on getting us back on the air after a really long time, but we’ve got a lot of characters and they come and go, so who knows?” Marinis said.

Marinis certainly had her work cut out for her after inheriting the top job on “Grey’s.” Along with resolving an avalanche of cliffhangers left behind in the Season 19 finale — Kim Raver’s Teddy collapsing in the OR, the interns wreaking havoc on two major cases and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) risking her career once again as she attempted to disprove existing theories on Alzheimer’s Disease — the showrunner is also tasked with moving the series forward after Pompeo stepped back from her series regular duties in front of the camera. The OG “Grey’s” star will now only appear in a handful of episodes going foward.

The challenge doesn’t scare Marinis — “I love messy stories” — but rather fuels her desire to keep “Grey’s” going beyond this milestone installment.

“I have a deep love for the longevity of the show. It’s a fan’s dream to watch their favorite show go on and on and on. So the theme of the season is going back to basics, seeing why people love what they do and how they get through the day,” Marinis said. “Once you see the premiere, a lot of characters have this reset. It’s the journey back from where we left everyone, leaving nothing on the table.”

“Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19” return with new episodes Thursday, March 14 on ABC. Episodes are available to stream the day after premiere on Hulu.

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