Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dispatch from ABC: Shonda 'didn't feel insulted'

As mentioned below, "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes was just here for a panel with her fellow ABC drama showrunners and, shockingly, we had a question or three about the Katherine Heigl/Emmy situation...

So, to recap: Emmy historian Tom O'Neil notices that Heigl, the reigning Emmy winner for drama supporting actress, hasn't submitted herself for Emmy consideration this year, and when he contacted her (or her representative) to ask, she said she didn't feel her writing this year merited Emmy consideration. This was interpreted as Heigl taking a shot at her writers, either because she has a tendency to insult people in public or because she's angling to get off the show so she can do movies full-time.

A reporter asked Shonda about ABC president Steve McPherson's comment yesterday that Heigl would be staying with the show, and that Shonda had an "unbelievable" storyline in mind for her apparently unhappy star. Shonda, who hates to give up info about future plots even in good times, said, "Story-wise, we have a really great story worked out that we're all really excited about, and things (on set) are going fine."

"Oh, put her in a coma, why don't you?" Silvio Horta, creator of "Ugly Betty," cracked. (Horta's pictured above with Rhimes.)

When asked how she first responded to hearing about Heigl's comment, Shonda said, "When I was told about it, I have to say I found it surprising. I actually have a really wonderful working relationship with Katherine. I love and respect her as an actress and I love Izzie as a character..."

Whatever she was going to say next will be lost to history, as the answer was interrupted by another reporter asking about the lesbian relationship between Callie and Dr. Hahn, and though she seemed willing to be candid in that moment, the moment quickly passed.

Later, someone asked "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry if he had any thoughts on dealing with star-related turmoil, given that he had that infamous Vanity Fair cover shoot with his actresses in season one.

"Usually, the best way to deal with actors is to pretend they're real people and you talk to them," Cherry said, while explaining that the Vanity Fair reporter only saw one side of that story, and that Cherry himself defused that particular situation by "hugging a sobbing actress in her trailer for 30 minutes and telling her, 'This too shall pass. It's not real life, it's showbiz.'"

Shonda then suggested that the press had only told one side of the Heigl story, and when someone asked her what we had missed, Cherry called out, "She was drunk!"

Finally, a reporter asked her to continue her original story about how she reacted to being publicly insulted by her biggest star.

"I don't know that she was necessarily insulting the writers per se," Shonda insisted. "There's two things: One, in the first half of the season she had a very strong storyline with george that played out a lot more comedically than Katie's stories in the past. (And then) in the back half of the season, Katherine asked me to write her light so she could do her movie... I didn't feel insulted."


Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just because her show seems to have had more turmoil than the others, but whereas everyone else on the panel comes off as pretty sincere and straightforward Shonda never ceases to come off as incredibly phony.

Joe Reid said...

Given how much flak Katherine Heigl continues to get for failing to deliver diplomatic answers to questions, I would think Shonda's "phoniness" would be welcomed.

I'm starting to get the impression the Grey's ladies can't win.

Anonymous said...

I think it is generally because there is a real (imo justified) antipathy towards the show by most critics, so they like to go after it.

It doesn't help that Heigl comes accross as a pretty horrible and ungrateful person, while anyone who has read Shonda's writeing blog can see she is either deluded or incredibly insincere.