Shonda Rhimes

The new seasons of ABC's Scandal and Private Practice are still three months away, but we already know who won't be back. Henry Ian Cusick (Scandal's Stephen Finch) and Tim Daly (Private Practice's Pete Wilder) will not return to their respective dramas.

Shonda Rhimes — the creator of both series, as well as Grey's Anatomy — explained to me what went into her casting decisions.

"Henry Ian Cusick is such a great guy," Rhimes told me at the 4th annual Produced By conferences held this past weekend in Los Angeles. "In the making of the show, there was less for him to do than is deserving of him. I felt, why hold him back from doing other things?"   

Cutting costs seems to have played a big part in Daly's departure after five seasons of the medical drama. "There's a lot of budgetary issues on that show," explains Rhimes. "We need to make sure the show is viable and that we can produce it. I feel as though Tim's character had a wonderful journey." Rhimes adds that she isn't yet ready to declare ABC's initial order of 13 episodes for the 2012-2013 season as Private's last stand. "I have been told that I'm not allowed to think of us only doing 13 episodes."

Oh, and I finally got an explanation to one Grey's Anatomy finale burning question: What the heck were those strange wind chimes heard in the hospital and out in the forest near the plane crash?

"I'm glad you noticed that," says Rhimes. "They were just chimes. I just liked the noise. We were very proud of those chimes. I felt like it was just the tolling of the bells, more stylistic than anything else."

As for who might fill the holes left by outgoing Grey's actors Kim Raver (Teddy) and Chyler Leigh (Lexie), the answer may be nobody just yet. Rhimes suggests that she'll be focusing on the favorite vets who have all signed on for two more seasons. She adds: "I'm not really looking for new characters at the moment."

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