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"Grey's Anatomy" just wrapped up its 15th (!) season on ABC, but star Ellen Pompeo says the show could have been Grey-less if it weren't for her kids. Speaking with Taraji P. Henson for Variety, the actress revealed she's thought about walking away from the show many times. "There were many moments," said Pompeo, when asked if there were times she wanted "off this bus." "It's funny: I never wanted off the bus in the year that I could get off," she continued. "The first 10 years we had serious culture issues, very bad behavior, really toxic work environment. But once I started having kids, it became no longer about me. I need to provide for my family." "At 40 years old, where am I ever going to get this kind of money?" she explained, "I need to take care of my kids." Pompeo shares three children -- Stella, 9, Sienna, 4, and Eli, 2 -- with husband Chris Ivery. "But after Season 10, we had some big shifts in front of the camera, behind the camera. It became my goal to have an experience there that I could be happy and proud about, because we had so much turmoil for 10 years," Pompeo continued. "My mission became, this can't be fantastic to the public and a disaster behind the scenes. Shonda Rhimes and I decided to rewrite the ending of this story. That's what's kept me." It was at this time Patrick Dempsey, who played Dr. Derek Shepard since Season 1, also left the show. He was killed off in the 11th season, with Pompeo claiming "the network believed the show could not go on without the male lead" following his exit. "So I had a mission to prove that it could," she said. "I was on a double mission." "He was being paid almost double what I was in the beginning," she revealed. "He had a television quote. I had never done TV. 'He's done 13 pilots.' Well, none of them have gone. I didn't even realize until we were renegotiating Season 3. No one was offering that up." Pompeo previously told The Hollywood Reporter that Dempsey's exit was a "defining moment" for her "deal-wise," claiming he was used as "leverage" against her. "There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that," she said in 2018. "At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is 'Grey's Anatomy' and I'm Meredith Grey. They wouldn't give it to me." Thanks to her two-year, $20 million deal in 2018, Pompeo is signed onto the show through its sixteenth season, though hinted she could stay on for the already confirmed Season 17. (Too Fab)
Taika Waititi to Guest Star in IFC/Channel 4 Comedy Series 'Year of the Rabbit. Waititi joins Matt Berry, star of his own 'What We Do in the Shadows' comedy series, in the Victorian era comedy detective show. Taika Waitiki is stepping in front of the camera again, but this time for someone else's comedy creation. The New Zealander, who directed himself as Adolf Hitler in the upcoming dark WWII comedy feature Jojo Rabbit alongside Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell, and is set to helm an upcoming Time Bandits TV series for Apple and a live-action feature adaptation of Akira, will guest star in an episode of IFC/Channel 4 series Year of the Rabbit. Set in Victorian era London, the comedy focuses on a crime-fighting trio, led by Matt Berry's Detective Inspector Rabbit, assisted by Susan Wokoma (Chewing Gum, Crashing) and Freddie Fox (Victor Frankenstein, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword). Details of Waitiki's character have yet to be revealed, but Berry, who stars as the vampire Laszlo in Waitiki and Jermaine Clement's What We Do in the Shadows series on FX, says to expect him to feature in episode three of Rabbit. "Taika would do anything, he would," says Berry when asked if Waitiki takes on anything particularly outlandish for Year of the Rabbit. The pedigree on the series is robust. It's directed by Ben Taylor, recently lauded for both Netflix's Sex Education and Amazon/Channel 4's Catastrophe and is written by Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil (Emmy Award winners for their work on Veep), with additional material written by Berry. Rabbitalso boasts Bodyguard's Keeley Hawes as a recurring main player throughout all six, half-hour episodes. Hawes is playing against type; her character described as the "mysterious Lydia," in a move that Berry hopes viewers will appreciate. At a recent early screening of the first two episodes at BAFTA's London headquarters, Hawes' role evoked evident delight. "Hopefully the audience (when Rabbit airs) will with any luck react like that," says Berry. "You know, 'ooh, it's the famous drama lady' do you know what I mean? That's the function (of casting Hawes)." If the first two episodes of Year of the Rabbit are anything to go by, the series is set to lampoon stereotypes of Victorian and modern life, while being playful with the tropes of the detective series. There's also much playfulness with profanity, which went down a treat with the early British audience at BAFTA. And Berry doesn't sense that any of that humor from swearing will get lost in translation when American audiences get to see DI Rabbit in action. "Certainly, the reaction to Shadows over the past couple of months, they've gone for [heavy swearing]," notes Berry. "This [show] is with an accent, this is with stronger accents, so that might be difficult, but I don't think that swearing ... the c-word can be a problem, but they can bleep that." Year of the Rabbit is due to air on Channel 4 in the U.K. on Monday, June 10, with a specific launch date yet to be announced for IFC. (Hollywood Reporter)
Disney+ Streaming Service Tracking Well Among Key Demographics Before Launch. A survey by Ampere Analysis of potential U.S. customers found more than a third of 18-24-year-olds, and households with children, are eager to subscribe to the SVOD service. The U.S. launch of new streaming service Disney+ is more than five months away, but American customers are already chomping at the bit. A new survey by research group Ampere Analysis, shown exclusively to The Hollywood Reporter, found that customer awareness of the new platform was high and that a significant portion of the U.S. audience is eager to subscribe to Disney's upcoming subscription VOD service, which will launch stateside on Nov. 12. Of the more than 1,000 people surveyed, just over a fifth (22 percent) said they were likely or highly likely to subscribe to Disney+. But that figure jumps among two key Disney demographics: 18-24-year-olds and households with children. And 34 percent of 18-24-year-old respondents said they intended to subscribe to Disney+, while 36 percent of households with children (a group nearly twice the size of the 18-24-year-old demo) agreed. Ampere noted that there is very little cross-over between these two demographics, so they represent a cumulative audience potential for Disney. "This is highly significant, given that Disney has not even begun their direct-to-consumer marketing campaign for the platform," Minal Modha, consumer research lead at Ampere Analysis, told THR. "That they have reached this level of awareness and demand already is quite encouraging." The demographic most eager to sign up to Disney+, however, is not households with children, but those living with friends. On average, 37 percent of those households said they were likely to subscribe when the SVOD service becomes available. Ampere also noted that a further 20 percent of respondents are on the fence with respect to subscribing to Disney+, an audience the studio may be able to win over once it begins its marketing campaign in earnest. Disney also seems to have got its pricing right. Potential customers who said they intended to subscribe to Disney+ told Ampere they were ready to pay the $6.99 per month (or $69.99 per year) the studio has set as its subscriber fee. "They haven't priced anyone out," Modha said. Interestingly, the average respondent cited Disney's film catalog -- particularly the Marvel universe films and Disney and Pixar's animated titles -- as the most valuable content on the new platform. Disney is investing in several original series for Disney+ -- including Marvel Universe-set Falcon & Winter Soldier and Loki, starring Tom Hiddleston, and The Mandalorian, set in the Star Wars Universe. So far, however, it appears the Disney's film library -- which will be exclusive to Disney+ in the U.S. after the studio pulls its movies from Netflix from 2020 -- is the new service's unique selling point. Netflix, however, need not worry that Disney will cannibalize its subscriber base, Ampere found. The majority of respondents who said they planned to subscribe already have a SVOD service and see Disney+ as a complementary, not replacement, source of content. (Hollywood Reporter)
Chris Jackson -- one of the actors in Ava DuVernay's new series about the Central Park 5 -- says it's up to viewers to decide how accurately they portrayed real people ... but most importantly, he wants viewers to be inspired. Chris was out in NYC Wednesday when we asked him why he wanted to be a part of "When They See Us," and aside from the obvious -- working with Ava -- he says the story was too important not to tell. As for the backlash against key figures in the case, specifically Linda Fairstein, he says it can't make up for the 5 boys being falsely convicted -- or the ordeal the Central park jogger, Trisha Meili, had to endure. Chris played the attorney for Raymond Santana -- one of the 5 -- and says he doesn't believe filmmakers have to be married to ALL the facts when retelling real incidents. He says above all else, they're storytellers -- and viewers should do their own research to get ALL the details. As we've reported, the Central Park jogger case has been a hot button issue this week due to "When They See Us," and Fairstein's taken the brunt of the backlash. Many folks, including Santana and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, believe her reckoning is overdue. Fun fact: We cannot tell a lie ... Chris Jackson also played George Washington in the original Broadway cast of "Hamilton." (TMZ)