LOS ANGELES — Last week, Patrick Dempsey struck fear in the hearts of “Grey’s Anatomy” fans during the TCA panel for his new reality show, “Patrick Dempsey: Racing LeMans,” when he said he would rather be racing cars than playing McDreamy.
ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee assures viewers that “Grey’s Anatomy,” which will return for its 10th season in September, will not be driving off into the sunset any time soon.
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“I think it should and will go on for many years to come,” Lee promised at the ABC executive panel at the summer Press Tour in L.A.
As for whether Dempsey’s character Derek Shepard will continue to be a part of “Grey’s,” “[Showrunner] Shonda [Rhimes] is an extraordinary creative force,” Lee said. “If I commented on who was coming in and out, I think Shonda would yell at me.”
In other words, it is possible that there will be more cast changes for the show that has already survived the departure of several original cast members including Katherine Heigl and Isiah Washington, and seemingly killed off another, Richard (James Pickens Jr.), in last season’s finale.
After the panel, Lee elaborated, “[Rhimes] obviously has her plans. She’s managed over the years to do twists and turns and reinvent that show, which is really why it’s sustained for such a long time. It’s been hard to think of a show, maybe ‘ER,’ that did such a good job of reinventing storylines.”
Lee has sound business reasons for wanting to keep “Grey’s” on the air even if the writers need to invent an entire new set of characters. “Its the number one drama on television when you look at the C3s [viewers who watch the show within three days of its initial airing], which is an extraordinary accomplishment after so many years.”
Dempsey and the other half of the couple known as MerDer, Ellen Pompeo, went through protracted contract negotiations prior to the show’s ninth season, but ultimately signed with the show for two more years. That means that after the 10th season, they will have the option of leaving.
Lee also teased the upcoming season of Rhimes’ other Thursday night series, “Scandal.” “I couldn’t be more excited by this season. You’ve got to give it to Kerry [Washington] and that team how they create a huge amount of social buzz for the show over the summer. Nobody turns over the cards like ‘Scandal’ and there are going to be a lot of cards turned over this season.”