20 Questions with Lynette Rice

Lynette Rice

20 Questions is a Q&A interview series with musicians, authors, and everyone in between, celebrating experiences both shared and individual in the messy game of being human.

Lynette Rice has covered the entertainment industry for over 25 years. Currently a senior TV writer and editor for Deadline, she was previously a long-running editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly — and was the only journalist to secure an exclusive interview with Patrick Dempsey after his 2015 departure from Grey’s Anatomy — as well as a writer for The Hollywood Reporter. A native of Redlands, California, her first book, How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, was published last year. Lynette joins me on this week’s new edition of 20 Questions to talk everything Grey’s as well as what she’s been reading and watching lately.

What is the earliest memory you have of wanting to be a writer?

My sophomore year at San Diego State University. Since I wanted to be an actress in high school, I compromised by thinking, “Gee, I’ll be a theater critic instead.” I joined the school paper and reviewed my friends in a play. I hated it. I decided to be a plain old journalist after that.

What time of day are you most inspired?

After I nap.

Favorite book of all-time?

Disney War by James B. Stewart. It was my first introduction to the crazy machinations of Hollywood, and I was immediately hooked.

What’s one vice you wish you could give up?

Watching TikTok while I lie in bed at night. I never sleep well afterwards.

One movie that will always make you cry?

The scene in the field at the end of The Color Purple. Whoopi playing patty cakes with her sister gets my every time.

What’s the most challenging part of writing for you?

Writing. I wish I could do all the reporting and interviewing myself and then hand the writing off to someone else.

The best book you’ve read in the last year?

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. It’s lowkey depressing but should be required reading for everyone in our miserably polarized nation.

Your first book, How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, serves as a type of tell-all about the beloved long-running medical drama. What drove you to want to write a book about Grey’s?

My agent, who used to be a book editor at Crown, emailed me while I was working for Entertainment Weekly and asked if I wanted to do it. I said, why not? It’s probably best that I had absolutely no indication of how hard it would be to complete.

The last series you binge-watched?

I love GOOD TV and frequently revisit old series. Before House of the Dragon debuted on HBO, I binged Game of Thrones for a fourth time. I am currently revisiting The Crown because — hi! — the Queen died.

As an entertainment journalist, how would you describe the power of pop culture in an age of isolation?

I have mixed feelings about this. One the one hand, all those readers keep me employed. On the other hand, FAR too much attention is focused on pop culture and NOT enough on important national and world affairs. More people know about Olivia Wilde’s affair with Harry Styles than they do about Gov. DeSantis’ appalling stunt involving those poor, duped immigrants.

As a writer and artist, what would you say is the best way to decompress?

I’m telling you, TikTok is the best, man. And streaming old movies. I love rewatching A Few Good Men and The Exorcist. They were so well made.

The best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The only way out is through.

If you could have one writer, dead or alive, to compose your obituary, who would it be and why?

Larry David. I want my obit to be entertaining and he’s the man who could do it.

One song that you will never be sick of?

24 Karat Magic in the air air air!

How difficult was it securing interviews and contributions of worth with actors and crew members for How to Save a Life?

Difficult to impossible. Some of the current leads refused to participate, so I had to rely on my old EW reporting to fill out the book. Fortunately, I had talked to many of them in the past.

What’s your current read?

I listen to books on tape when I walk and drive. I like thrillers, so I’m currently listening to The Golden Couple by Sarah Pekkanen.

You’re stuck on a long flight. Which world-famous musician would you want sitting next to you?

Ann Wilson.

Favorite quote of all-time?

Bill Paxton in Aliens, 1986: “I don’t know if you have been keeping up with current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!”

One thing that’s been keeping you sane during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I do Crossfit and the gym coach sent us workouts to do at home. Also, my twins were home from college, and we were all under the same roof. One of them cooked every night!

What can we expect to see next from you?

An oral history/audiobook about Sons of Anarchy for Pushkin! The plan is to release it next fall for the show’s 15th anniversary.

Follow Lynette Rice on Twitter and Instagram, and find her book How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy wherever books are sold.