Thursday nights have been always been the time for peak drama, thanks to Shonda Rhimes’ TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursday) primetime TV event featuring the likes of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder. The characters in her stories typically go through some kind of dramatized conflict (or countless ones), leaving audiences intrigued and tuned in every week.
Turns out, Rhimes was experiencing drama of her own. Despite being a top-earning show creator (bringing ABC more than $2 billion with her content), the television mogul still had her share of battles with the network.
“I felt like I was dying,” she told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent cover story interview. “Like I’d been pushing the same ball up the same hill in the exact same way for a really long time.”
It turns out it wasn’t just the typically stifling politics that comes with having a show on network television, though.
THR further reports:
She knew her breaking point would come, but what it would be she never could have predicted. 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. But on this day, she needed one for her sister, too, as she’d be taking Rhimes’ teenage daughter while the nanny chaperoned her younger two. 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?
After some unwanted back-and-forth—”We never do this,” she was told more than once—Rhimes was issued an additional pass. But when her daughters arrived in Anaheim, only one of the passes worked. Rhimes lobbed a call to a high-ranking executive at the company. Surely, he would get this sorted.
Instead, the exec allegedly replied, “Don’t you have enough?”
I’m sorry what?! Oh, whoever that unnamed exec is...they tried it! Rhimes knew they tried it indeed, because after that? She rang up her legal team and demanded that they land her a deal at Netflix or she’ll find another team to represent her.
I guess who needs Disneyland when you have your own creative theme park called Shondaland? This is the kind of power Rhimes took with her when she decided to sign with Netflix.
Landing a nine-figure overall deal at Netflix in 2017, Rhimes is currently the highest-paid showrunner in television, something she proudly said out loud at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event in 2018. While we still don’t know the exact number of the deal (as it has been noted that the $150 million was underreported since her deal includes more backend money than upfront cash), Rhimes admits that the huge press tour surrounding Ryan Murphy’s $300 million deal at Netflix inspired her to “own [her] shit,” too.
“Here’s the thing: I’m a little obsessed with Ryan and how comfortable he is owning his power,” Rhimes admitted. “It’s like he has this incredibly stylish home, these beautiful children, and he always seems like he’s got it all together—and then he did this amazing photoshoot and he owned his shit, and I was like, ‘Why wouldn’t I own my shit? Like, why do I feel like it’s wrong to do somehow?’”
As for her much-anticipated content over at the popular streaming platform, Rhimes has the upcoming period drama Bridgerton as well as Inventing Anna, which chronicles the life of infamous SoHo scammer Anna Delvey.
The Root has reached out to ABC for comment regarding the Disneyland matter.