Shonda Rhimes Explains Private Practice and Scandal Cuts, Solves a Grey's Finale Mystery

Shonda Rhimes Scandal CastThings have been a bit precarious over in Shondaland, with both Private Practice‘s Tim Daly and Scandal’s Henry Ian Cusick getting clipped from their respective casts in recent weeks. And that’s all on the heels of Grey’s Anatomy unexpectedly snuffing Lexie Grey, played by series vet Chyler Leigh. (Or is Mer’s sis not dead? More on that in a minute….)

RELATED | Kate Walsh Confirms: ‘This Is My Last Season of Private Practice‘ (Watch Video)

Showrunner (shows-runner?) Shonda Rhimes, speaking with TV Guide Magazine at a weekend event, addressed the latest cuts, explaining that Daly was a victim of “budgetary issues” as PPP heads into a sixth season that already is poised to be a truncated 13 episodes. Defending the choice to wrap Pete’s story, she said, “Tim’s character had a wonderful journey.”

RELATED | Shonda Rhimes Weighs In on Scandal Season 1, the Finale’s Killer Reveal and Fitz’s Future

Cusick, meanwhile, will not stick around for Scandal Season 2 if only because Rhimes came to realize the show would not best be able to serve the beloved Lost alum. “”[T]here was less for him to do that is deserving of him,” she admitted. “Why hold him back from doing other things?”

RELATED | Grey’s Anatomy Exclusive: Chyler Leigh Breaks Her Silence About Shocking Departure

In speaking with TV Guide Magazine, Rhimes also shed light on one of the tragic Grey’s Anatomy finale’s small mysteries — that is, the incongruous wind chime noise heard intermittently during the crash site scenes. A few of the fans hit hardest by the loss of Lexie batted around the theory that the chimes suggested a “dream” and that the crash hadn’t really happened.

Rhimes, though, effectively burst any such “Lexie’s alive!” bubbles, telling the mag, “They were just chimes…. I felt like it was just the tolling of the bells, more stylistic than anything else.”

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88 Comments
  1. I’m irritated that Daly’s gone. I feel like they could have saved money some other way.

    • Smigglesby says:

      yeah… like amy brenneman or paul adelstein

      • ted says:

        Paul adelstein and Kadee strickland are why I watch the show. I’m sorry as much as I like Tim Daly, they kinda wrote his character into some very annoying guy and very self righteous. I don’t think i’ve ever been more irritated with a character than when he decided to let his patient die against the father’s wishes and against the law.

        • Anna says:

          Agreed! Pete was awesome until season 3 then he became annoying
          But I also have to admit that Amy out of PP would be a better solution.

        • wolfenstein says:

          I agree that Tim Daly’s character was very annoying and self righteous – but that whole thing where he let the patient die? The father was being an a$$ and going against what his son wanted for himself. I think it’s crap that the father got to decide anything. The law needs to catch up to society.

          But basically, I’m glad that character is done.

        • Julio P says:

          Agreed! Paul and KaDee are holding that show together, IMO.

          • astrid says:

            so true! they are the best part. And I do like the Mason-journey for Charlotte, aka Momma…

          • I think KaDee and Caterina have completely taken over the show as the two female strengths. Seriously. And Paul has taken up the male lead. The show has shifted up so much, and for the better, IMO.

      • Spikenalabama says:

        Well, Amy Brenneman anyway….

      • Ava says:

        I’m still hoping Amy Brenneman gets a pink slip too. Maybe Violet and Pete move to Costa Rica never to be seen again.

    • Brock says:

      I got an email survey from ABC the other day asking me about the shows I watched… then it turned into a FULL ON Private Practice survey about the stories, characters, who I’d miss most, the pairing I like and hate and after about 20 PP questions it was all over. They’re not done retooling the series or figuring out its future!!!!

    • Larc says:

      Wonder if Tim’s increased salary demands tipped the scales against him? A lot of these series regulars seem to expect more money with each contract renewal at a time when TV continues to lose viewers overall. As that happens, advertising dollars that are life blood for these shows get increasingly hard to come by.

    • Red says:

      what is up with the bells this isn’t final destination i dont think it works that way

  2. George says:

    I always get a chuckle when showrunners say they got rid of an actor because they don’t want to squander there talent & don’t know how to service them. I think most TV actors would rather collect a steady paycheck playing a mundane part, then not work at all.

    • Boiler says:

      I don’t watch either of these shows but I personally think one way to get more scripted TV is to get the actors to take lower salaries. When you hear about some of the bargaining that goes on its obvious that they would rather not work thatn be “underpaid”. Cutting characters has been the death knell of some shows

    • Edwin says:

      I agree! Plus, how can you let Tim go?! The whole “budgetary issues” just smells so badly. I don’t think Shonda is a very nice person, nor do I think she actually cares. It’s about the money and she’s just ABC’s puppet. She’ll do whatever they say if it means she gets to stay on board and create other shows. Screw the fact that she’s got to step on other people! Daly tweeted about hearing from his agent about his firing. If Daly is such a great actor and Shonda has any respect for him, why on earth didn’t she call him and talk to him PERSONALLY? It just seems so wrong. I’m no Hollywood person and perhaps this is how things are done, but I still feel it’s so wrong. He dedicated himself to the role. Anyone who dedicated their life to helping create a great TV show ought to be treated better. It just seems so wrong.

      • lorna says:

        Agreed. She should’ve told him herself. He still wouldn’t be happy, but he’d prob have a bit more respect for her.

      • Floretta says:

        I tend to agree with you, I don’t think Shonda is a nice person either. I watched her the other day on “The View” and she seemed to watch each actor and actress intently to see if they screwed up. Plus, I think she is getting rid of Harrison on “Scandal” and I am going to be so angry if she does.

    • Shaun says:

      Guess he’ll be fine on the final season of Fringe then :p

  3. Emily says:

    well with Henry Ian Cusick no longer on Scandal I guess I won’t be watching any Shonda shows anymore

    • AJ says:

      Yet again with this comment. Who bases what shows they watch strictly by the actors on that show? And who quits watching in protest over a minor supporting character getting cut? Be realistic. I could understand if the lead was some tremendously annoying person that people just can’t stand, but Cusick is not even the star of the show.

      • The8treGirl says:

        Well, if I watch PP, I’m only watching for KaDee Strickland’s scenes. If she’s not on, I’m back at my book/magazine. She’s amazing and the writing that they do for her is amazing.

        Which in a way kind of proves the point that others have been making about watching for certain characters. When the writing of a character is sympathetic and clever and consistent (which doesn’t mean without change or growth, just with logical development), then the character can very well be worth sticking with a show. When the writing doesn’t CARE about the character, his/her consistency within a story line, or loses any sense of sympathy with the audience, then dropping the show becomes much easier.

        Shonda Rhimes LOVES KaDee Strickland and the character she plays, Charlotte. Shonda NEVER knew what to do with Pete, so however much she might have enjoyed having Tim Daly on the roster – and maybe she never did – the writing for him always lacked consistency, sympathy and usually cleverness.

        I know showrunners/creators have every right to feel absolutely proprietary about their creations but sometimes I think those of us are not inve$ted in them understand these “people” a little better.

      • LDSK says:

        Actually AJ, many people do. There are plenty of shows that I started watching only because I liked a particular actor or actress (or the character they were playing). And yes, I have stopped watching shows when that character left. As a matter of fact, I’m doing it again this fall with Criminal Minds. Prentiss is gone and so am I. I’m not rasing a fuss or blaming anybody or staging a protest. It’s just that the main reason I was watching the show is gone and I have lost interest. Simple as that.

  4. Beverly says:

    So, if Shonda Rhimes thinks the part of Stephen Finch isn’t good enough for a great actor like Henry Ian Cusick, why doesn’t she just make the part better instead of getting rid of him completely?

    • DL says:

      Logical logic is logical.

    • Irishgirl says:

      THANK YOU! All of her replies always sound so lame. The only one that sounds truthful is the Daly cut since his character had been written to a point that it was easy to write him out.

      I wonder if anyone told her how stupid Lexie’s death was?

  5. Abby says:

    Why is Private Practice referred to as PPP? Where is the 3rd P?

  6. Natasha Hagan says:

    It is very sad to hear about Tim Daly but he will always be remembered. I am so glad they didn’t do that with KaDee Strickland because she is one talented, special person and truly brings Private Practice more real.

  7. matthew c says:

    I wish she would discuss why none of the characters seemed to even notice Arizona was hurt nor did a thing to help her in any way.

    • Irishgirl says:

      I thought Cristina came to help her and Arizona told her to help the pilot instead?

    • lorna says:

      because she annoys them as much as she annoys me?

      • irene says:

        lol, hear hear! I just can’t stand her and that fat chick. I just hope that Rhimes come to her sense n focus the show back to MerDer

        • LARA says:

          Just saw this thread, a little late to the party but I have to ask…
          Who the heck is the “fat chick”? Are you referring to the stunningly beautiful & talented actress (Sara Ramirez) that plays Callie Torres? And who in this day and age calls anyone a “fat chick” and thinks that’s a smart thing…? wtf. People like you need to learn to THINK before you type (and speak) and stop referring to people, especially WOMEN, in such derogatory terms. Just because someone isn’t a size 6-or smaller- doesn’t make them “fat”. Get a clue.

          –and for the record, because I know you’re going to reply “then you must be fat, too”…I’m 5’5”, and a size 2 but I don’t diet. Never have in my life. I just take care of myself and eat healthy things when I’m hungry. But I would never call a person “fat”. Not on a forum like this. Not behind their back and definitely not to their face. Not cool. Not cool at all. :P

        • mmmmbop says:

          I agreed with you until the bit where you called Sara Ramirez, the most beautiful and talented actress in the world,a ‘fat chick’. If she was a fat man would you be able to stand them together? And what is there to focus on about MerDer? They just repeat the same old stuff for them

  8. matthew c says:

    yeah what is the third P for?

  9. Amelia Hale says:

    Sadly, the decision to leave is not Shonda’s, but the actors’. Tim and Kate are tired, and after all Shonda has turned their amazing character (watch seaon 1 and 2!!!!) into annoying repetitive ones. Now PPP is Charlotte and Cooper’s, because they have a more interesting storyline and you have to admit it, the show revolves around them now. I started to watch it because of Kate, and I loved Pete (And Kate and Tim together are awesome) but now their time is over.

    • Babygate says:

      Tim Daly didn’t seem to be happy to be leaving when he tweeted that his option or contract had not been picked up…

    • Franklin says:

      Tim’s exist was not his decision. He was let go.

    • Irishgirl says:

      It’s obvious from his comments that it was not Tim Daly’s decision to leave. As creator and producer, Shonda Rhimes has a key role in the decision making when it comes to picking up an actor’s contract option. All three of these exits were TOTALLY her decision. I also think that Chyler Leigh’s lack of PR around the finale and cold, business-like press release are big indicators that she wasn’t really ready to leave Grey’s either. And as someone stated above, if she wasn’t happy with the depth of the character for Henry Ian Cusick, then fix that issue. Don’t ditch an actor of that caliber who’s also a big fan favorite. That’s weak decision-making.

      • Amelia Hale says:

        What I meant was that Chyler and Tim decided not to renew their contracts. Shonda then decided how to make them leave the show.

        • anon says:

          Chyler wanted out and decided to leave, but Tim was let go – it was not his choice. He found out he was let go through his agent. Doesn’t sound like it was his choice at all.

          • Svenja says:

            It wasn’t his choice. You are right. He confirmed on Twitter that he got a call that he wouldn’t return to show. She didn’t even tell him in person. Very disappointing. Chyler is another story…we don’t know what made her leave, but with Tim Daly it is cristall clear what happened

      • redrobin says:

        Ok, I understand that people are frustrated, but stop all the Shonda hate. It has gotten to the point where Shonda Rhimes is blamed for every bad decision made on these shows. Is she partially responsible for Grey’s uninteresting finale and rushed death scene, PPP’s writing Tim Daly’s character into a corner and Henry Ian Cusick’s exit from Scandal? Absolutely! But I think it’s absurd to say that any of this was TOTALLY her decision. After all, there are other writers and producers for each of her shows, and Shonda herself has said that she has a great deal of help. There are also ABC head honchos and show budgets to consider. There have been a lot of mistakes on these shows, like George getting hit by a bus, Izzie’s random exit, and Lexie’s rushed and somewhat unemotional death, but one thing we can say is that T.R. Knight, Katherine Heigl, and Chyler Leigh have all made it abundantly clear that for whatever reason, it was their decision to leave, not Shonda’s. So can we please just take a minute and realize that Grey’s Anatomy will go on without Lexie, Private Practice is nearly over anyway, Scandal is only beginning, and Shonda Rhimes does not have a personal agenda against you and your favorite characters.

        • EmmaY says:

          Well said RedRobin!!!! I absolutely agree! I will miss the characters on PPP and Scandal but I will continue to watch these shows along with Grey’s because they are some of the best shows on T.V nowadays.

        • lorna says:

          Understandable, she is the big honcho. She could keep on whomever she wanted, or at least fight harder for them.

          • Jules says:

            Im sure she has a say but look at Criminal Minds in 2010. It was my understanding that it was CBS’ decision to get rid of AJ Cook and reduce Paget Brewster’s screen time (and eventual exit), not Erica Messer’s. Ultimately backlash (and the failure of CM: Suspect Behavior) was largely responsible for them coming back. Shonda, while of course having input, is not the head honcho always making the decision. I’m sure abc had at least something to do with budget cuts on PP.

          • Irishgirl says:

            Jules….as the creator and executive producer, she has more than input in the decision. There are other executive producers (Mark Gordon, Rob Corn, Betsy Beers, etc) who have some input as well, but Rhimes’ say has more weight and responsibility. Typically, the decisions are made due to budget. There are times when actors are let go due to dislike of a character, or some sort of scandal (Isaiah Washington anyone??), but mostly it’s budget. And budget is driven by the network. So yes, ABC may have said you’re going to need to cut $$$ from the budget, so we suggest you cut a secondary character, but the decision on who to cut comes down to Rhimes and the other producers. The exception is when contract negotiations for an actor go south…..he/she wants $$$, network only wants to pay him/her $$……alot of times these disputes are settled by giving the actor/actress a Producer credit.

        • Melanie says:

          While I agree that Rhimes isn’t in control of budgets or contract issues, she was totally responsible for the Grey’s finale. She wrote it. She admits she took it apart and put it back together numerous times so the finale is on her. IMO the second to the last episode would have made a better finale. She takes credit for being the creator, executive producer, writer so she takes the hit when people have issues with it. If ABC has enough faith in her to have three current shows on the air, I’d wager that they let her decide which actors to cut. While I will give her credit for creating some great characters that I care about, it’s the actors who elevate the writing that keeps me watching.

          • redrobin says:

            @Melanie You are absolutely correct about the Grey’s finale, which I thought felt rushed and uninteresting for the most part. My only point was that (most of the time) it was the actor’s decision to leave, and Shonda simply wrote their character out of the show. But I agree that this year’s season finale left quit a lot to be desired, especially with how Lexie died.

        • Amaia says:

          Completely agree with you but I think many “Grey’s Anatomy” fans are angry because how Lexie ended. The character didn’t deserve either a huge cut in her appearances in the series or that ending. Anyway, the whole season was upsetting for me so I didn’t expect a better ending.

  10. Sam says:

    ok so PPP is only going to be 13 eps, and Daly was cut because of the budget. this to me says sadly they are tightening the purse strings in order to cancel it, but I really hope not. I love PPP and will be sad to see it go.

  11. Babygate says:

    It’s borderline condescension for Shonda to always call these pivotal and ill-conceived moments ‘wonderful’. Lexie and Mark’s moment was wonderful, even though she died, Really? Why? Because after 3 seasons of teasing us they ended up not being together? And now Pete’s journey has been ‘wonderful’. I don’t like Pete, but let’s be realistic. His relationship with Violet is in the crapper. And now they won’t have time to fix it in any kind of organic and realistic way. MerDer’s journey has been wonderful. Calzona’s horrendous storyline of S7 was wonderful. I mean, c’mon! I wonder if Shonda realizes that the reason people watch her shows is because of their attachment to the characters. Not because of the writing which has been so erratic, contrived, incoherent and inconsistent. We put up with the crappy storylines because those of us who still tune in are hoping for the happy ending, in spite of the less-than-stellar writing. To her credit, she does create amazing characters that we can relate to and cheer for.

  12. Amy says:

    The 3rd P makes no sense, no matter what the reason for it

  13. hello says:

    I don’t care what the writer of the Britney Spears-classic Crossroads do anymore

  14. eli says:

    I didn’t understand, Is Lexie alive ot not ??? Was the crash real or not??? please somebody explain that to me :)

    • Cindy says:

      Lexie is dead. no dream.Mark will also be dead when the new season starts. And quite possibly Arizona also. Shonda is cutting budget. she doesn’t care how the fans feel. she doesn’t. care about the actors either . She will do what it takes to keep her job and her paycheck coming in. l believe she even coerced Chyler into saying it was her idea to leave. Really,then why did she say in January that she was in for the long
      run and would become the last remaining Grey if it came to that?! She didn’t have the decency to tell Tim she fired him. Wonder if Eric Dane. knows. l am done with all her shows. She said it made. her sick to kill Lexie. Well she makes ME sick!

      • Svenja says:

        I am having similar suspicions. As much as I appreciate Shonda for what she created and did, I am not amused by the way she is handling things right now. She just gave Daly’s agent a call. Not more. At least that’s what Daly tweeted. Shonda worked years with this man. I also don’t get why she killed Lexie. I mean, she could have written Chyler out differently without leaving the fans all shattered with another pointless and painful death. Also not telling Eric Dane whether he will return or not…not cool at all. Maybe I am just spoiled because the NCIS showrunner would never do such a thing, but I am still shocked about the way she spilled the news to Daly. It is also obvious that ABC decided to “kill” PP slowly by changing its time slot… no wonder Kate decided to leave. I don’t want to know what else happens behind the scenes concerning certain things (especially the budget stuff). I am very disappointed in the way Shonda and the ABC are handling things and trust me I used to defend it. But now I am just not able to do it anymore. I am very sad about the outcome of this whole administrative issue.

      • Larc says:

        If Mark and Arizona are out, that will be OK with me. They had got to the point they weren’t very interesting anyway, IMO. Plus it would open up 2 spots at Seattle Grace for those who just passed their boards.

  15. Jen says:

    I’m a big Shonda supporter, but not anticipating some departures early in the writing and/or casting makes for an awkward sloppy corner to write oneself out of in the next season. PPP is aging and contracts are up for renewal – Pete seemed to be on the chopping block since last year – I wish there had been some forethought so he could’ve had a more graceful exit. In general, it’s harder to see this cast of characters in their 40s continue to act childishly, GA actually does a better job of allowing the characters to mature (and most of them are younger). PPP should start allowing the characters to make better decisions so it can end on a satisfying note.
    Regarding HIC on Scandal, there seems to be more behind his exit than the explanation at hand. I cannot believe he was hired with no attention placed on the potential storyline of his character. Was he supposed to hook up with Olivia, but the presidential connection end up having more staying power? Were there holes in HIC’s contract? Whatever the reason, the writers are left holding the bag creating a scenario for an awkward exit of a character everyone was eager to learn more about next season. I do wish Shonda’s shows can start to write with an eye to the series arc vs an exclusive season arc.

  16. maltru says:

    Sorry for this possibly ridiculous question- why does “Private Practice” get shortened to PPP? What’s the third P for? The first time I saw it, I thought it was a typo, but I’ve seen it quite a few times now.

  17. Shari says:

    Why couldn’t they just get rid of Amelia? That character is just the worst.

  18. Jane says:

    Shonda should stick with 1 show. Grey’s started to slip when P.P. started, and now who knows what will happen with Scandal on. I hope she’s nixed that Downton Abbey ripoff idea. I don’t think I could take another Shonda show. I’m a big Grey’s fan and the first season of P.P. was pretty good. I tried to watch Scandal but it didn’t hold my attention so I gave up halfway through the first episode. I loved HIC on Lost, but he did have a reputation for being difficult on that show. Maybe his old problems resurfaced.

  19. treasures229 says:

    It’s so sad that Tim Daly leaves without even saying goodbye but it’s clearly that PP’s cast is beyond expensive right now. I mean, almost all of them can be headline for their own show: Kadee Strickland, Taye Diggs, Amy Brenneman, Tim Daly, Paul Adelstein. But i still wish they cut Taye out instead of Tim :(

  20. Michelle says:

    Shandra is just sucking at life lately isn’t she… fail

    • Jamie says:

      Yeah…three successful shows on TV right now and ABC kissing her a** to keep her happy. She is so sucking right now.

  21. Bob says:

    Since all producers know that a hit show will run up against “budgetary concerns” the longer it’s on the air, why not just produce shows with smaller casts? That would be ridiculous. So instead, try getting rid of all the extra producers, associate producers, executive producers, show consultants, some of the writers (after 5 or 6 seasons, you’re on autopilot, anyway), the various assistants to all the producers, and so on. It’s called overhead in the corporate world.

  22. My friend said that Shonda Rhimes lost all the actor budget trying to get Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo to stay, so, she had to let a bunch of others goes. Pretty such that affected all of ABC’s budget too, considering the whole Body of Proof massacre and all O_O

    • Sandi says:

      “My friend said….” Well that must mean it’s true. Pure speculation.

    • Watchout! says:

      Well a friend of a friend of mine said Chyler is a horror to work with so that was why she was let go. And Shonda was being nice when she said it was Chyler’s “choice” to leave. And another friend of a friend said that Shonda and Tim have an ongoing fued so that is why she didn’t bother to tell him his contract was not renewed.

  23. Lo says:

    Okay can someone PLEASE tell me why Private Practice is abbreviated as PPP? Where is that 3rd ‘P’ coming from?? It’s been driving me nuts

  24. J says:

    There were SO many things that bugged me about the Grey’s Anatomy finale and I’ll just list a few:
    1) Lexie dying obviously. I mean..come on in Chyler’s statement if i remember correctly she said about how this would be her last season. I would be a tiny bit more accepting if Shonda gave us Slexie fans a season to remember. Like we’ve been dancing around it for 3 seasons clinging to the hope we were finally going to get there..then we got Lexie’s amazing confession in 822..then that finale..URGH! Not impressed I feel it could have been handled differently like we were given some kind of closure but I don’t know kept it open for a potential return in the future. And what..she was a beloved character and had a few minutes of the episode..died right at the beginning and that was that? Ok so she may have died but I would have preferred the group to move near her body at least…instead of just..leaving it.
    2) How the HECK did that helicopter crew not see a plane wreck. Cristina even said it herself..the plane hit the trees..now basic logic here but if a crashing plane hits a tree it’s going to smash it to pieces – hence were those flying that helicopter sat doing a crossword or something?
    3) Just the sheer predictability of it. Of course the flare wasn’t going to work..When Cristina gave Lexie that look we knew she was going to be the one to die..of course the last match was going to go out.
    4) No moment between Lexie and Meredith. COME ON! this was the perfect moment to finally have a full on sister moment where they fully expressed what they meant to each other.

    That’s just a few things..and oh my days those chimes!! Why bother putting them in? Tsk giving me false hope! But you know what heck I’ll carry on living in denial because it’s a happier place! I just hope someone is begging Chyler to come back her and marks relationship was a refreshing change from MerDer, Calzona and Crowen. But I still wish her all the best for the future!

    Sorry for the rambling – I’ll probably watch the first episode and see how I go..but I don’t know now my favourite’s gone I’m kind of iffy about it. I just wonder what we have for the season 9 finale..we’ve had bombs, plane crashes, car crashes – I’m putting my money on a freaking asteroid!

  25. abel says:

    If it came to this, I would rather have Lexie live and and Merideth be the one pushing daises.

  26. ShondaRipper says:

    I think in Shonda f3ckup mind that the only ‘perfect’ closure for her show is to keep the old living n the young dying. Lexie was the baby of the group so you literally just killed a baby Shonda.Baby murderer, that so Cristina of you, Shonda!

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