Ellen Pompeo will only be in eight episodes of the new season of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Here’s why

A close-up woman in glasses with a large frame poses with her head tilted

Ellen Pompeo attends the Disney 2022 Upfront presentation at Basketball City Pier 36 in New York City on May 17. (Charles Sykes/Invision/Associated Press)

Ellen Pompeo, who long played surgeon Dr. Meredith Gray on the ABC medical drama will be cutting back on screen time in the upcoming 19th season as she reportedly heads to work on a new Hulu project.

Pompeo will appear in a “limited capacity” on the network’s flagship series, which begins production this week, including appearing in eight episodes, The Times confirmed Wednesday. However, she will narrate every episode and serve as an executive producer. (It’s unclear how many episodes have been ordered for the new season, and ABC hasn’t said if it will be the show’s last.)

The Shonda Rhimes-created show, which premiered in 2005, continues to be ABC’s top scripted series and has spawned several spinoffs, including “Private Practice” and “Station 19,” on which she has also guest-starred.

While several members of the original cast — Patrick Dempsey, Eric Dane and Katherine Heigl — have left “Grey’s,” Pompeo has remained a fixture along with Chandra Wilson’s Dr. Miranda Bailey and James Pickens Jr.’s Dr. Richard Webber. Both Wilson and Pickens Jr. they will be back for season 19 as well.

In the season 18 finale, Meredith decided to remain at the show’s Gray Sloan Memorial Hospital as the interim chief of surgery instead of moving to Minnesota. When “Grey’s Anatomy” was renewed in January, the host of the “Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo” podcast reportedly signed a one-year deal to return to the series.

Although Bailey left last season after the show’s medical center shut down his residency program, the new season will introduce audiences to a new batch of interns when it premieres on October 6. They include Alexis Floyd as Simone Griffin, Niko Terho as Lucas Adams, Midori Francis as Mika Yasuda, Adelaide Kane as Jules Millin and Harry Shum Jr. as Daniel “Blue” Kwan.

Pompeo’s reduced shift on “Grey’s” comes as she prepares to take on her first major role outside of the ABC series. He will star in an eight-episode limited series for Hulu, ABC’s sister streaming service, currently operating as the Untitled Orphan Project. He came on board earlier this summer, Deadline reported.

This production centers on the strange true story of Ukrainian-born Natalia Grace, a young woman with dwarfism who tricked her Midwestern adoptive parents into thinking she was a child. They claimed she was a life-threatening adult sociopath, and their situation turned into “a battle fought in the tabloids, in the courtroom and ultimately in their marriage,” according to the logline.

The Hulu project draws parallels from the 2009 horror film “Orphan,” which spun a similar thread.

Pompeo will play the mother in the series created and written by Katie Robbins (“The Affair” and “The Last Tycoon”). He will also executive produce the project through Calamity Jane’s production banner with Laura Holstein.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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