Both Rhimes and Betsy Beers, will move with Shondaland to Netflix.
In a stunning counter punch to Disney pulling its content in lieu of its own streaming service, Netflix has signed both Rhimes and her long-time producing partner, Betsy Beers, away from ABC in an exclusive, four year contract. This deal will bring Rhimes’ successful production company Shondaland under Netflix’s in-house studio umbrella, and is the first overall deal of its kind that the streaming giant has executed.
“Shonda Rhimes is one of the greatest storytellers in the history of television,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix. “Her work is gripping, inventive, pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, taboo-breaking television at its best. I’ve gotten the chance to know Shonda and she’s a true Netflixer at heart — she loves TV and films, she cares passionately about her work, and she delivers for her audience. We’re so excited to welcome her to Netflix.”
Rhimes had supposedly spent the last few months renegotiating her contract with ABC, which was supposed to last another year. Similarly, her previous deal with the network was meant to last four years, however, it was over powered by Netflix’s far more lucrative offer of allowing Rhimes to keep a percentage of the back-end on programming she provides for the service. The addition of revenue, paired with the showrunner’s rumored restlessness, proved the perfect opening for Netflix to seduce Rhimes away from her 15-year-long partnership with ABC.
“Shondaland’s move to Netflix is the result of a shared plan Ted Sarandos and I built based on my vision for myself as a storyteller and for the evolution of my company,” said Rhimes, “Ted provides a clear, fearless space for creators at Netflix. He understood what I was looking for — the opportunity to build a vibrant new storytelling home for writers with the unique creative freedom and instantaneous global reach provided by Netflix’s singular sense of innovation. The future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities.”
Despite the obvious hole that Rhimes leaves behind her, ABC will remain home to several of her shows including “Grey’s Anatomy”, the show’s upcoming spinoff series, “Scandal”, “How to Get Away With Murder”, and her new show “For the People”. Staying along with those programs will be Rhimes’ long-time coworkers Pete Nowalk (“How to Get Away With Murder”), Krista Vernoff and Bill Harper (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Stacy McKee and Mark Wilding(Grey’s spinoff), Don Todd and Paul William Davies (“For the People”), Mark Fish (“Scandal”), and Allan Heinberg. ABC is no doubt trying to retain some of the Rhimes’ magic that has made her the first African American woman to hit 100 episodes with three shows. ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey, who previously headed drama at the network, fondly reflected on working with Rhimes on one of those shows, “Grey’s Anatomy”.
“Shonda, Betsy and I started working together with the first episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and those early days will forever remain one of the highlights of my professional life. We are happy to continue working with Shonda and her team at Shondaland on Grey’s, ‘Scandal,’ ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ and the upcoming ‘For the People’” said Dungey, “I’m proud to have given a home to what have become some of the most celebrated and talked about shows on television. With the launch of a new season upon us, fans can rest assured that TGIT remains intact and will be as buzzed about as ever.”
Rhimes also appears to have no ill-will to the company that was her home for more than a decade.
“Our current shows will continue to thrive on ABC, and Shondaland will be there every step of the way,” Rhimes said. “I could not have asked for a better home to begin my career. I continue to be grateful to work with so many talented people — especially our studio gladiator Patrick Moran and our most powerful and brilliant champion Channing Dungey. Starting today, we are thrilled to begin creating new Shondaland stories with Netflix. Everyone at Shondaland is honored to expand both our audience and our creative identity with Ted and the entire team at Netflix.”
If Netflix’s aggressive poaching style with Rhimes is any indicator, it’s safe to presume that she is far from the last of the streaming service’s “big kills”. Networks beware.