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'Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Star Ellen Pompeo Credited Her $20 Million Deal To Perfect Timing & Patrick Dempsey's Exit

by Jessica Rapir / Jun 22, 2018 04:39 AM EDT
'Grey's Anatomy Season 15 star Ellen Pompeo credited her $20 million deal to perfect timing and Patrick Dempsey's exit. Photo by Grey’s Anatomy/Facebook

Grey's Anatomy lead star Ellen Pompeo has finally spoken up about how she negotiated her $20 million salary deal for the next season of the medical drama. Pompeo said it was because of perfect timing and the two people she had worked with on the show.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Pompeo (Meredith Grey) has secured a salary bumped to the tune of $20 million a year for Grey's Anatomy Season 15 and 16. Soon after, ABC announced that cast members Sarah Drew (April) and Jessica Capshaw (Arizona) are leaving the show after Season 14.

Many speculated Drew and Capshaw were written off the show to accommodate Pompeo's fat paycheck. Although Pompeo already stressed that her pay increase is not the reason of Capshaw and Drew's exit, some still think that the show needs to cut back on cast members because of Pompeo's salary bump.

At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity recently, the actress explained how vital timing is in contract negotiation. She was referring to the recent campaign in Hollywood for pay equality.

Fortunately, Pompeo also has leverage when she sat down in the negotiation table. It turns out that the exit of co-star Patrick Dempsey and creator Shonda Rhimes from the show also helped her negotiate with ABC.

"The studio didn't have two key players to leverage against me. They no longer had Patrick Dempsey or Shonda [Rhimes]. They had nobody left to hang the franchise hat on," she said (via Entertainment Tonight).

Dempsey, who played the role of beloved Dr. Derek Shepherd, exited Grey's Anatomy in Season 11 after his character died in a car crash. Rhimes, on the other hand, left ABC and signed a new deal with Netflix late last year but she remains as an executive producer of Grey's.

Pompeo earlier wrote a powerful essay for The Hollywood Reporter about how she struggled to get the salary she deserves. In her piece, the actress mentioned how ABC used Dempsey as sort of bargaining chip during salary negotiation.

"They could always use him as leverage against me-'We don't need you; we have Patrick'-which they did for years. There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that.

At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey's Anatomy and I'm Meredith Grey. They wouldn't give it to me," Pompeo wrote.

The actress' new salary deal makes her the highest-paid actress on the primetime drama. Among the other drama series' actresses in the list are Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order: SVU ($12.5 million), Scandal actress Kerry Washington ($11 million), Robin Wright of House of Cards ($9 million), and NCIS' Pauley Perrette ($8.5 million). Modern Family star Sofia Vergara is still at No. 1 with $41.5 million.

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