‘Grey’s Anatomy’ screenwriter takes on show inspired by Erin Brockovich: Part 4

In 2020, television writer Krista Vernoff met with Brockovich to talk about creating a show which led to “Rebel” on ABC, inspired by her years of activism.
5:41 | 06/11/21

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Transcript for ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ screenwriter takes on show inspired by Erin Brockovich: Part 4
Alright, we're going to stage two. I love it. The Hollywood sign, look at the Hollywood sign. Oh my god. There it is. I wouldn't have seen it. There it is. I never stopped being excited about the Hollywood sign. Okay, your driving was superb. Thank you so much. Krista vernoff, the day I met Krista, oh, that was just a game changer. So in case you're not recognizing the name Krista vernoff is the current creative force behind television's blockbuster hospital drama, "Grey's anatomy," which is now in its 17th season. Hey. I've been calling your cell all night. Oh, well, it's a long story. Along with its younger spinoff, station 19, back in 2020, Krista was asked to meet with Erin brockovich to brainstorm about creating a show that would be inspired by her years of activism. I'm going to go meet Erin brockovich. She's amazing to me. And we just got to talking. Supposed to be an hour meeting, I don't even think an hour. It went two, and then three, and then four. Listening to Erin talk about her family, listening to her talk about her causes, it was like, "I know what the show is." That show, of course, is "Rebel." Premiering this past April, it stars katey Sagal as Annie "Rebel" Belo now, like Erin, rebel has no law degree but is a strong, outspoken advocate for regular people who've been victimized by corporate greed. Stonemore medical heart valves are poisoning people. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been improved because of that heart valve. They're causing auto-immune disease and wreaking havoc on their bodies. Erin is messy and she's flawed, and she has three ex-husbands. It's like a writer's dream. You gonna get off my property? No. Mom. What the hell, rebel. The magic of Erin, is that she doesn't come in and fight the fight for you. She comes in and inspires you to join her in fighting the fight. When Erin and Krista first met to talk about producing a show, they felt a strong connection. Different life stories, but two women cut from the same cloth. I was a product of the '70s. My parents were Venice beach hippies. My dad was a drug addict and he was a drug dealer. So you're 12 years old and you're left with that, and one of the ways that kids will treat their anxiety is with drugs and alcohol. I sort of had two lives. I had like my partying on the weekend life and my school life. I did well, although I was a falling-down drunk. I took myself to al-anon, as I shared about my own drinking I was guided into recovery. And I have, one day at a time, stayed sober for 27 years now. Erin had to wage her own battle to just be taken seriously. When I began my work out on that case in Hinkley, I felt suppression. I felt what was oppressive. "You're a crazy mom. You're a crazy . What do you know?" You're not this, you're not that I was like, "Oh, whoa, I have so been here before in my life." And like so many other women over the years, Erin and Krista faced sexism at work. My first interview to be a TV writer, I walked into the interview and the man looked me up and down a couple of times and said, "Did someone help you write this script? My coworkers, I wish some of them were here to tell you I didn't fit in, I guess I'll never forget when one of them came out and measured my skirt and how many inches it was above my knee. I think it was 18. You have no proof. You got an online group of angry women and their anecdotal evidence. Angry women and their anecdotal evidence. I swear, Nate, that could be the name of my next book. Here I go. This is you, Erin. It's been just so interesting to take on what Krista has written, it's inspired by your intensity and your passion and your, you know, stick to ittiveness. To say like, this is what it takes to create change, and to let her be funny and sexy and likable and smart, and fierce and relentless and flawed. No one move, no one leave. Sit down benji. Cruz, you're gonna want to hear what I have to say. Now. And relentless, while at first blush someone might go, "Argh, nagging." See, that's that stereotype that we'll put, sometimes, on women. Relentless is a strong word. It's rebel. I brought a few folks that would like a word with you, is now a good time? It's really not. If it is relentless to refuse to be defeated by sexism, by ageism, by misogyny, by the cruelties of life, if it is relentless to take your kicks and dust yourself off and learn what you can and keep going, then all three of us are relentless. A. Okay, they're rehearsing. To be sure, Erin's been riding a whirlwind from Kansas to Hollywood. But it came with a cost, in part because of the time spent away from Erin's three kids. Especially for her youngest daughter, Elizabeth. Come close to me. Erin had no idea that right in her home, her own daughter was abusing drugs.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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