Fall TV Preview

Ellen Pompeo Scales Back Grey's Anatomy Workload, Will Appear in 'Limited Capacity' in Season 19

The fine print of Ellen Pompeo‘s new Grey’s Anatomy contract is coming into view.

The actress — who last January extended her deal with the venerable ABC medical drama through the upcoming 19th season — will be scaling back her Meredith Grey duties to pursue other opportunities. According to sources Pompeo will appear in a “limited capacity” — said to be just eight episodes (or less than half of the roughly 20-23 episodes that will be produced). She will remain as an exec producer, and will continue to narrate every episode.

Meanwhile, among those opportunities Pompeo will be taking on is a new Hulu series, in which she will star in and EP.

As TVLine reported earlier today, the Hulu series — which is being referred to as the “Untitled Orphan Project” — is inspired by the true story of a Midwestern couple who adopts what they believe is an 8-year-old girl with a rare form of dwarfism. But as they begin to raise her alongside their three biological children, they slowly start to believe she may not be who she says she is. As they question her story, they’re confronted with hard questions of their own about the lengths they’re willing to go to defend themselves, falling into a battle that’s fought in the tabloids, the courtroom, and ultimately their marriage.

Curiously, Pompeo foreshadowed her new part-time Grey’s status back in May. Responding to a question from Entertainment Tonight about whether the series could live on without her, she hedged, “Shonda [Rhimes] and I, I think — we’ll see, we’ll see,” before adding, “Trying to reinvent the show and continually trying to reinvent the show is the challenge at this point, and listen, the show speaks to a lot of people, and the young people love the show. It’s inspired so many generations of healthcare workers, so, I think for for the young people, it’s a really good piece of content and we’re going to try to keep it going for the young people, not necessarily with me, but keep it going beyond me.”

As announced in recent weeks, a quintet of first-year surgical residents are about to roam the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial this fall. You have Adelaide Kane (Reign) as Jules Millin, who was raised by drug addled artist/hippies “and somehow emerged as the only real grown-up in the family,” plus Harry Shum Jr. (Glee) as Daniel “Blue” Kwan, a sharp-witted, impatient and brilliant resident who is “generous by nature but competitive to a fault.”

Also new for Season 19 are Niko Terho — who starred opposite Grey’s‘ Jake Borelli in the 2020 Freeform movie The Thing About Harry — as Lucas Adams, who is determined to prove himself as a surgeon (just like many in his family that have come before him), and Midori Francis (Sex Lives of College Girls) as Mika Yasuda, a middle child with eight siblings who is used to being overlooked and underestimated (and uses it to her advantage).

Last but perhaps most curiously, you have Alexis Floyd (Inventing Anna) playing Simone Griffin, a high-achieving and whip-smart young woman who grew up in Seattle… “but never wanted to work at Grey Sloan because of a painful personal history with the hospital.”

Production on Season 19 is set to begin this week, ahead of a Oct. 6 premiere on ABC.