Fall TV Preview

ABC Boss Weighs In on the Big Grey's Changes and a Private Practice Without Kate Walsh

Speaking with reporters after his formal appearance at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills, ABC president Paul Lee shared his forecast for two Shonda Rhimes shows — Grey’s Anatomy and its spin-off Private Practice — as well as one that didn’t quite make it to the schedule.

Asked to weigh in on the many cast changes in place for Grey’s Season 9 — including the exits of Chyler Leigh, Eric Dane (read story) and Kim Raver — Lee was bullish, saying, “If you look at what Shonda’s done… she has maintained the critical dynamic behind that show, the creative dynamism, for such a long time. And I love to see her taking risks and reinventing the show every year.”

Citing the “great cliffhanger” that capped Season 8 with a plane crash and facilitated the departure of Leigh’s Dr. Lexie Grey, Lee said, “We’re excited about where [Rhimes] is going with that show. She is ambitious … so I am fully supportive.”

As for anyone else being trimmed from the Grey’s cast, the network boss ventured: “I think you’ve seen the major moves.”

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TVLine asked Lee if, given Private Practice‘s 13-episode renewal and the departure of cast member Kate Walsh thereafter, he was ready to dub this the medical drama’s final season. “No, we’re not [calling it that] yet,” he retorted. Claiming that Private Practice saw a ratings bump with its move from Thursdays to Tuesdays (in part to make room for Rhimes’ Scandal), he said, “We think the show has got a lot of energy, and we’d like to see that continue.”

But has Rhimes presented ABC brass with any vision for what PPP would look like beyond the next 13 episodes sans Walsh, who has announced her exit at the end of her contract? “We’re looking at various options,” he told us. “We’ll see where it goes.”

RELATED | Private Practice Shake-Up: Tim Daly Out!

Later in the aprés-press conference confab, Lee was asked about Gilded Lillys, a period drama pilot that was exec-produced by Rhimes for the coming TV season but didn’t get picked up. “[Lillys] nearly did make it. The script there was beyond brilliant,” he shared. “We didn’t quite deliver the promise of the script, but had we done so, I would’ve done that straight away.”

Do you think Grey’s will be energized by its cast changes? Can Private Practice stand strong sans Addison? Share your thoughts in Comments!