Krista Vernoff sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Vernoff talks about the “complicated culture” of “Charmed,” why she once told her agent she could never write a medical show, what it was like having some of the old “Grey’s” cast back this season, how and when “Grey’s” might end, and more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Krista Vernoff —
On the “complicated culture” of “Charmed” and the show’s “gross” treatment of actresses:
“[It was a] complicated and difficult dynamic at ‘Charmed.’ It was [Aaron] Spelling. It was old-school. It was a great learning ground. And it was complicated and difficult as a woman… I was a young woman with a lot of opinions. ‘Charmed’ was, I learned a lot — how to break a story. I learned a lot how to be a writer on staff. I learned a lot about how to rewrite. And I learned a lot about what kind of culture I didn’t want to be a part of moving forward in my career… It was a complicated culture. It was really tough… My experience was primarily in the writing of the show, and it was — you know I was in casting and things, it was a little gross in terms of the treatment of actresses and it was a little gross. I didn’t want to spend much more time in that culture. And so I moved out of it.”
On what it was like having former “Grey’s” stars back on the show this past season:
“We were coming back first. Like, there were two other shows that were going back into production at the same time that we were. Everyone was a few weeks behind us. So it was calling T.R. [Knight] and calling Patrick [Dempsey] and saying, ‘Do you want to do this?’ It was like, you know, they were excited. They were excited to do it. And they were game. And calling Eric Dane. It was just, it was just joy to call people who thought they would never come [back]. You know what I mean? It had been so many years since T.R. left and to say, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun? Wouldn’t it be fun to come do it again?’ Everybody just said, ‘Yes.’ It was great.”
On the episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” in which T.R. Knight’s character dies and why she “fought it, and fought it, and fought it”:
“Shonda [Rhimes] wrote that episode. All I can tell you is that when she pitched it in the room, I cried. When the script came in, I cried. When we read it at the table, I cried. And when I saw the first cut — even though I knew it was coming, when Meredith put together that it was George on the table, I leapt out of my chair and jumped backwards and gasped and cried. The experience of how deeply involved I was with all of those episodes and then Shonda made that decision, and I fought it, and fought it, and fought it. And then, it’s her show. And then it was brutal, and it was beautiful. And it’s one of the most memorable episodes, I think, in television. And it’s one of those times where I learned something. I kept saying, ‘They’ll never forgive us. The fans will never forgive us. They will never forgive us.’ But they did.”
On whether or not she knows how and when “Grey’s Anatomy” will end:
“I have something percolating in my mind. And the percolating changes. I had some ideas percolating during the first seven seasons, like, it’s like I used to pitch things to Shonda and she’d go, ‘That’s a season eight idea.’ Meaning, that’s the final season of the show idea. And now we blew so far past season eight, we’re in season eighteen. So your idea of where the characters are going to end changes each year. Every year, I never know if I’m writing the last season of the show. Literally. And so I percolate new ideas every year. If we ended it this year, what would it be?”
On how she once told her agent she could never write a medical show:
“Ironically, I was a fan of ‘E.R.’ and ‘Law and Order.’ And when I first got an agent and they were suggesting — cause I had started writing sitcom specs, all of my original specs were ‘Friends,’ and ‘Mad About You,’ and ‘Just Shoot Me’ — and it was suggested to me that I write hour-long, I was like, ‘Well I only watch ‘E.R.’ and ‘Law and Order’ and I could never write legal or medical.’ And then my first job was ‘Law and Order’ and then ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is the gift that keeps on giving. And it’s legal and it’s medical.”
On how she landed a meeting with Shonda Rhimes to get her writing job on “Grey’s Anatomy”:
“Shonda [Rhimes] was a fan of ‘Charmed.’ And so she read my play that I had written about my dad’s death and she read on my resume that I was on ‘Charmed.’ And she took the meeting, which I was pushing really hard for because I loved and I recognized how similar my voice was to hers naturally and that I would be able to succeed writing with her because I could match her voice without trying. What I’ve always said is, ‘When I read the pilot of ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ I called my agent and I said, ‘If I didn’t know better, I’d think that I wrote this in a fever-dream. I need to meet this woman.’”
On having The Creative Coalition in the “Grey’s Anatomy” writers’ room to brainstorm ways the show can tackle the issue of obesity:
“We had The Creative Coalition into the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ writers’ room earlier this year and were kicking around ways to tell that story, what needs to be illuminated. It’s an interesting conversation, the obesity conversation versus body positivity. Obesity is a disease versus body positivity. One of the writers, actually, on ‘Grey’s’ and ‘Station ’ just had gastric bypass surgery. And she’s talking about it and writing about it very publicly because she is deeply into body positivity and has the condition of obesity and her health was compromised. And she was like, ‘I want both things to be true. I can love my body and I can take care of my health in this particular way.’ It’s been a really interesting conversation, and we’re going to find some ways to dig into it.”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Mädchen Amick (“Riverdale”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“La Brea,” “The Good Doctor”), Tony Hale (“The Mysterious Benedict Society,” “Arrested Development”), Patricia Heaton (“Carol’s Second Act,” “The Middle”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Aasif Mandvi (“Evil”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), International Bestselling Author Patrick McGinnis (“The 10% Entrepreneur,” “Fear of Missing Out”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Reid Scott (“Echo”), and Matt Walsh (“Veep”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Briarpatch”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us,” “Castle”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA,” “The West Wing”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Duncanville”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Anthony Rapp (“Rent”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.