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Shonda Rhimes Creates Private Practice

Published September 25, 2007 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of ABC.
Private Practice Private Practice

In every hit show's life, a spinoff must come. Some can be lucrative like CSI or Boston Legal. Others may be forgotten like Top of the Heap and After MASH. Grey's Anatomy is trying its luck launching Private Practice, a show centered on Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) leaving Seattle for a job in L.A. This provides creator Shonda Rhimes with many different medical issues to explore.

Creation of Private Practice

"Not surgery, which is nice," Rhimes said. "There is the world of alternative medicine. There's the world of psychiatry. There's the world of fertility. There's a lot of great areas of medicine and the way a wellness group works that allows us to really tell some new stories."

Addison will be joined by many new doctors all of whom have their own specialties and personal issues. "I think that there are some great stories for that character to tell and there are some great places for that character to go. Addison is really interesting and really strong and really smart. We wanted to really see her lay in a new setting and see where she would go. It is an ensemble show. There are some amazing actors. They are all an amazing group of actors and it's exciting to be able to tell stories through them."

Private Practice began with an episode of Grey's Anatomy that introduce the idea of Addison moving on, with many of the characters. It gave Rhimes a chance to work out the kings before going into full on production.

"Creatively for us it was a little bit of a high wire act. We had to present to some very dedicated fans absent of Grey's Anatomy while introducing a bunch of new characters and hopefully keep people entertained and interested and want to watch more. What I learned in writing it is that the tone is a little bit lighter and that there is a little bit more fun to be had. Grey's is, in the best way, sort of high school with scalpels. Private Practice to me is more grown up and it's more like a squabbling family than it is a group of competitive interns. That was the discovery we made in shooting it and in sort of feeling the chemistry that was going on between everyone."

If they ever need a ratings boost, they can always have McSteamy or Izzy pass through town. In the beginning, Rhimes will stick to her core cast. "I think Addison made some pretty good friends. There are no plans to do crossover episodes at this point. I think that these characters stand alone and are interesting and we're really excited about the stories we ware going to tell through them this season. We do see her tender her resignation to Richard in the first episode of Private Practice."

Now with two shows to run, Rhimes is finding herself able to balance the load and give each series sufficient attention. "I think it's really evenly split between the shows. I have our writers in the same lot that I am. The shows shoot on different lots which is just a little bit of driving but it is pretty evenly split. I really feel like the thing that I do well or try to do well is focus on the writing and on the scripts and sort of let [producer] Mark Tinker do what Mark Tinker does and let the actors do what they do and really sort of sit in the editing room and let it come out of the other side where [producer] Betsy [Beers] and I are choosing the music and doing the day to day stuff. It's split and oddly, I sort of woke up this morning feeling like God, this is kind of working. It's working pretty well."

Private Practice premieres September 26 on ABC.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of ABC.

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