ABC execs used Patrick Dempsey as 'leverage' in pay negotiations — Ellen Pompeo

Carla Harmon
January 17, 2018

As announced this morning, Ellen Pompeo, the star of Grey's Anatomy who plays titular character Meredith Grey, has extended her contract with ABC for another two years.

Pompeo now makes $20 million a year - or $575,000 per episode - along with another $6 million or $7 million, thanks to a seven-figure signing bonus on her latest contract, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She called Dempsey's leaving the show in 2015 a "defining moment" for her and said she "had a nice chuckle" about the show's ratings spiking after he left.

While the long-running TV show has been a hit for over 12 years, Pompeo says that she's always been unhappy with her compensation. I don't know if they also did that to him, because he and I never discussed our deals. At one point, she said she was denied a raise by ABC after asking for $5,000 more than the salary of her costar Patrick Dempsey, whom she was making less than at the time.

Just because Pompeo signed on for two more seasons doesn't mean Grey's Anatomy will end after Season 16.


"They wouldn't give it to me", she said in the interview. "You think, 'Not only do I have to show that I'm a good actress, but that director also has to in some way fall in love with me and at least become enamored with me, '" she recounted. I'm sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: "Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy?" said the star. "You feel conflicted but then you figure, 'I'm not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.'" Damn, straight. Add that to her producing fee and backend on the spin-off, as well as deals in place with her Calamity Jane production company, and she'll reportedly net more than $20 million a year.

"The show will go on as long as Ellen wants to do it", the show's creator Shonda Rhimes, also behind "Scandal", told the Reporter.

Rhimes' was in full support of Pompeo's negotiations for more money. "I was like, 'Are you people f-king nuts?" I need to feel empowered and to feel ownership of this show.' And she was like, 'I absolutely want to keep the show going.

Unlike Ellen, many actresses have come forward with tales of alleged sordid encounters with Weinstein in hotel rooms. "We take it season by season really", she said.


"She's growing up in an environment where she's completely comfortable with power". But Pompeo didn't give up, either on her show or on her ambition.

She also recounts a meeting with disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein: she says she went up to his room in NY, and an assistant was present. "'We don't need you; we have Patrick.'".

"So, what does it look like when he leaves the show?" "I should also say this: I don't believe the only solution is more women in power, because power corrupts". She left for six years to go work with John Wells and do Shameless, and when Shonda chose to step away and go to her Netflix deal, she enlisted Krista to come on and run the show. "It's not necessarily a man or a woman thing".


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