Culture&Arts

Ellen Pompeo talks negotiating her 'Grey's Anatomy' salary, meeting Harvey Weinstein

Ellen Pompeo talks negotiating her 'Grey's Anatomy' salary, meeting Harvey Weinstein

Ellen Pompeo is well known for her long-running role in Grey's Anatomy, that's landed her as the highest-paid actress in a primetime drama.

The actress confirmed that she would be joining the long-running medical drama late a year ago, but there hasn't been many details about her role.

Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo stressed the importance of artist ownership, her $20 million deal with ABC and how the industry can learn a thing or two from Jay-Z with The Hollywood Reporter. In the past, he could be leveraged against her in a "we have Patrick, we don't need you" way that she says happened for years. The actress told T.H.R. that she and Dempsey never discussed their separate deals with ABC, and that Dempsey declined to negotiate alongside Pompeo-a tactic used, for example, by the cast of Friends to ensure that every series regular was paid equally. "There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that", Pompeo said.

The interview contains such gems as a Pompeo's initial reaction to the Grey's audition as a broke up-and-comer in 2004-"I knew I was fucked.I was like, "I'm not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years". They wouldn't give it to me. Pompeo said that she - with the support of her friend, boss and mentor, "Grey's" creator Shonda Rhimes - first had to feel "empowered" enough to ask for it.

"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 enamoured with me". And directing is cool but, to be honest, it just takes me away from my kids, '" she wrote. "I'm not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house". In turn, the actress' latest contract means that she will make $20 million a year as well as a signing bonus and two full backend equity points on the show, all of which is estimated to come out to another $6-7 million. "Is that OK?" I'd call Shonda and say, "Am I being greedy?"

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About that "ducking predators" comment: Pompeo repeats a story she's told before about a meeting she had with producer Harvey Weinstein back in the day. And since Pompeo has dedicated her acting career to the show, she hasn't been able to branch out creatively, she said, making "Grey's" that much more central to her professional life and future livelihood.

Disney eventually agreed to most of her demands: Pompeo now makes about $575,000 an episode and has a stake in the series' financial success.

"For me, Patrick leaving the show was a defining moment, deal-wise". She'll get a producer's fee as well as backend points. "I saw squeaky wheels getting all the fucking grease, so I was like, 'OK, that's how you do it, ' and I behaved badly as well".

"Grey's Anatomy" returns from its mid-season hiatus on Thursday, airing at 8pm on ABC. "That should be part of this conversation we're having now".


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