Three years, numerous projects, and a male copycat later, Shonda Rhimes is finally set to debut her first series for Netflix (a sexy, gossipy period drama) under her lucrative development deal. And she wouldn’t want it any other way. Speaking with THR about her decision to switch from her creative home of 15 years, ABC, to the streaming service, Rhimes revealed that the pace and constraints of network television had become too stringent for her life. “I felt like I was dying,” she explained. “Like I’d been pushing the same ball up the same hill in the exact same way for a really long time.” Her breaking point, however, didn’t involve a meeting or a writers’ room, even if one ABC executive was determined to “drive down the price tag” of her contract renegotiations. Rather, in 2017, Rhimes asked for an additional all-inclusive pass to Disneyland (one of her perks for working at the House of Mouse-owned network) to give to her visiting sister. After receiving some pushback (“We never do this,” she was repeatedly told), Rhimes got the pass, but it failed to work when her sister, with her children and nanny, arrived at the park.
Rhimes proceeded to call a “high-ranking executive” at the company to figure out the issue, but he showed no interest in giving television’s most prominent showrunner a $154 ticket to the park. “Don’t you have enough?” he allegedly responded. Rhimes collected herself, hung up, and called her lawyer with a simple directive: She was going to move to Netflix, and she’d “find new representatives” if that couldn’t be accomplished. Given that she reportedly inked a $300+ million deal, we’d say Rhimes made the right call.