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Shonda Rhimes: Killing McDreamy ‘Wasn’t Easy or Fun’



In this Dec. 10, 2014, file photo, Shonda Rhimes arrives at the The Hollywood Reporter's Women In Entertainment Breakfast in Los Angeles. Rhimes is arguably the most powerful producer in television these days. ABC has turned over to her its entire Thursday night lineup, where she delivers weekly episodes of “Grey's Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder.” (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

In this Dec. 10, 2014, file photo, Shonda Rhimes arrives at the The Hollywood Reporter’s Women In Entertainment Breakfast in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

The Associated Press

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Here’s a roundup of news Tuesday from the Television Critics Association summer meeting, at which TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs:


Shonda Rhimes says it “wasn’t easy or fun” to kill off Patrick Dempsey’s character on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Dempsey played Dr. Derek Shepherd, a brain surgeon nicknamed McDreamy, who was Ellen Pompeo’s love interest for 11 seasons on the long-running medical soap.

The creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” said she was faced with either having Shepherd leave Pompeo’s Meredith Grey and taint their love story, or be killed off, keeping it intact.

“The only way to preserve what felt true to me was that Derek was gonna have to die,” she said.

Pompeo said the loss was an interesting challenge creatively because “those are the best scenes to play” as an actor.

She also pointed out the realism of the situation.

“So many people lose their spouses in a myriad of different ways and feel they can’t get up again and to tell the story of how life goes on after … that’s a story worth telling.”

Earlier Tuesday, ABC President Paul Lee addressed the polarizing choice to kill off Dempsey’s character. “It was great to see ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ so relevant and taking the national conversation,” he said.

Lee said “it was a difficult decision. Patrick obviously has lots of interests outside,” referring to Dempsey’s career as an amateur race car driver. “Shonda decided that was the way to go.”

Rhimes teased that season 12 will be “lighter in tone” and shows Pompeo’s Grey in a position she never thought she’d be in, as a widowed mother.

The new season of “Grey’s Anatomy” will premiere Sept. 24 (8 p.m. EDT).



Jeff Garlin puts the chance of new “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episodes at “51 percent.”

“I’d say a decent chance. Not good, not bad, decent,” Garlin said.

He’d like to see the show return but everything rests with creator-star Larry David, said Garlin, who plays David’s Hollywood agent on the HBO comedy.

It’s “the only show that I know in the history of television that only moves forward because the creator is basing his decision entirely on creativity,” Garlin said.

David, who profited handsomely from co-creating and producing “Seinfeld,” is so “rich that he doesn’t have to do anything unless it’s good,” he said. “He doesn’t want to embarrass himself. It’s pretty pure.”

David, who plays a tongue-in-cheek version of himself on the show, has been otherwise occupied. He starred on Broadway this year in “Fish in the Dark,” which he wrote.

HBO is patiently waiting for David, the channel’s programming president, Michael Lombardo, told the Television Critics Association summer meeting last week.

“I don’t think it’s out of his system,” said Lombardo. “I think he’s enjoying his life, and I think he’ll come back to it. And when he comes back, we’ll figure it out.”

Nothing is planned for next year, Lombardo said, but he wouldn’t be surprised if the show returned at some point. Its last new episodes aired in season eight in 2011.

Garlin also stars in ABC’s 1980s family comedy “The Goldbergs,” which returns Sept. 23.



Indian film star Priyanka Chopra says she was eager to add a U.S. TV series to her resume.

“It’s like the golden age of television right now and I wanted to be part of that … revolution,” Chopra said of her role as a FBI recruit in ABC’s new drama “Quantico.” It debuts Sept. 27.

But she told the network that she didn’t want to be cast for the color of her skin, what she looks like or where she’s from, Chopra said. The goal was a worthy project that “gave me the respect of being an actor.”

Chopra said she’s glad to bring further diversity to ABC, which includes characters of various ethnicities in “Fresh off the Boat,” ”black-ish” and other series.

Since coming to America as a student, “I never saw anybody who looked like me on TV, and this was an opportunity for me to change that.”

She plays Alex Parrish, an Indian-American whose fledgling FBI career and freedom are in jeopardy after a New York terrorist attack. It’s a juicy role in a “smart show” that any actress would covet, she said.

Parrish is “Jason Bourne in female form,” Chopra said.

Despite her new job, she has no intention of abandoning her film career back home.

“I love doing my Indian films, and it’s amazing that I can balance both,” Chopra said, labeling herself an effective multitasker. After this season wraps she’ll jump back into a film.



Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, who have been on-again, off-again over the years, have now called it quits. But they’re vowing to remain professional on their new prime-time comedy, “The Muppets,” premiering Sept. 22 on ABC.

The pair confirmed their breakup and a statement followed on their official Twitter accounts.

“People change. So do frogs and pigs. … We were together for a long, long time and it’s personal,” Kermit said.

Kermit also acknowledged starting a new relationship with another pig, a woman named Denise who works in ABC Marketing.

“The Muppets” is a mockumentary-style look at Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie and the gang as they produce a late-night talk show for Miss Piggy called “Up Late With Miss Piggy.”

The former couple sat at Tuesday’s panel with co-executive producers Bill Prady and Bob Kushell.

Prady said the idea to bring back “The Muppets” to prime time came up eight years ago but the timing wasn’t right. He took the idea to ABC in February. He said the network wanted a pilot right away so he created a 10-minute presentation.

He hoped to take the summer to do more, but ABC ordered the show to series with a fall premiere.

“There’s no part of me whatsoever that did not want to wait,” Prady said. “This went very fast and, you know, it makes the work harder.”

Although there will be musical guests, the show will be less like a variety show and more like “The Office” or “Modern Family.”

This is a new direction for “The Muppets,” but Kushell said he believes it will appeal to both old and new fans.

“Anybody that hasn’t seen ‘The Muppets’ in the past will see this whole new world and it will seem fresh and original and new to them, and anybody that has grown up with that will have that nostalgic feel but also their minds blown by the way we are doing the show,” he said.



“Community” cast member Ken Jeong has a new gig on ABC but he’d be glad to see the comedy stay alive.

Yahoo gave the canceled NBC sitcom a sixth season that rolled out this spring, but whether there’s more to come is unclear. In a statement Tuesday, Yahoo said it and producer Sony Television continue to discuss “future opportunities.”

Jeong, on hand to promote his new family comedy, “Dr. Ken,” premiering Oct. 2 on ABC, said he was “completely in the dark” about the status of “Community.”

But he would “love to do a movie,” he said, and showered his co-stars with gratitude.

They made him “the actor that I am today. I wouldn’t be here as a lead on my own show,” Jeong said.

Joel McHale, part of the “Community” cast, offered an optimistic tweet Tuesday: “Easy sugar-bear, Community is not canceled.”

But in an interview last month with Metro Weekly, McHale was quoted as saying “no” when asked if it would get another season on Yahoo.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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