Ellen Pompeo pursues new direction on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

 

TV Pipeline

 

Ellen Pompeo

Q: I was impressed to see that Ellen Pompeo directed a recent episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Has she also done others? – Jill Crane, Columbus, Ohio

A: That was her directing debut, and she’ll likely have more of those opportunities if she wants them in the medical drama’s 14th round on ABC next season. The show and its mentor, Shonda Rhimes, are known for giving regular cast members their chances to call the shots, literally … since Chandra Wilson and Kevin McKidd have directed over a dozen “Grey’s” episodes each. So has recurring guest star Debbie Allen, though she’s also an executive producer of the series, so she’s essentially giving herself those jobs.

Q: I’ve always wondered, who sang the theme song for “Friends”? – Julie Wendell, via e-mail

A: The duo known as the Rembrandts co-composed and sang “I’ll Be There for You,” which stands as one of the most famous series themes in TV history. Originally, no more was written than what was used in the show’s opening credits.

After a Nashville radio station had success with a version it assembled on its own, basically running the TV recording together three consecutive times to make it the length of a music single, the Rembrandts’ label wanted an official single that it could profit from. That became the case when “I’ll Be There for You” reigned atop Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 chart for two months in 1995.

The Rembrandts

Q: What ever happened to Lee Horsley, who starred in “Matt Houston”? – Jim Boardman, Macon, Ga.

A: He’s still acting, though not frequently … but when he’s done it in recent years, he’s had someone quite prominent behind him, namely Quentin Tarantino. The director has cast Horsley in both “Django Unchained” and “The Hateful Eight,” and since Tarantino is a known connoisseur of pop culture, it’s entirely possible he knew of Horsley from watching “Houston” and hired him on the basis of that. Horsley also has been part of the audiobook world, and he rather famously recorded Larry McMurtry’s classic Western “Lonesome Dove” for that format.

Q: I saw a photo of Bryan Cranston with his wife recently, and she looked familiar. Does she act, too? – Greg Phillips, Boynton Beach, Fla.

A: She does – and in fact, Robin Dearden even turned up briefly on her husband’s “Breaking Bad.” Her credits extend back to “Knight Rider,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “Magnum, P.I.,” and more recently, she’s been featured in the online comedy “Fantasy Hospital.”

Q: I’ve enjoyed seeing Lloyd Bridges in repeats of “Sea Hunt.” How many other series did he do? – Thomas Wise, Norman, Okla.

A: Throughout his career, Bridges was a television reliable, often guest-starring on other shows if not doing his own. “Sea Hunt” was his first series, and its success earned him the Aaron Spelling-produced anthology “The Lloyd Bridges Show” in the early 1960s.

Then came “The Loner” (a Western created by Rod Serling), “San Francisco International Airport” (which rotated with “McCloud” and other elements of NBC’s “Four in One” concept), the “Police Story”-originated “Joe Forrester,” “Paper Dolls,” “Capital News” and “Harts of the West,” the latter of which also starred Bridges’ son Beau.

Q: In the scene in “Ocean’s Eleven” where Brad Pitt teaches some young TV stars of the time how to play cards, who are all of them? – Doug Warren, via e-mail

A: Topher Grace (“That ’70s Show”) gets the most dialogue in a walk-and-talk with Pitt in the 2001 remake, but the others seated around the table – and eventually joined by George Clooney, too – are Holly Marie Combs (“Charmed”), Joshua Jackson (“Dawson’s Creek”), Barry Watson (“7th Heaven”) and Shane West (“Once and Again”).

A lot of them were from shows that were running at the time on the then-still-existing WB Network, and since “Ocean’s Eleven” was a Warner Bros. release, it was fairly clear the studio was using that scene to promote its network (while it also served as a plot device to bring the Clooney and Pitt characters back together).

Send questions of general interest via email to tvpipeline@gracenote.com. Writers must include their names, cities and states. Personal replies cannot be sent.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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