‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Book Says Katherine Heigl Found It ‘So Hard’ Working With Shonda Rhimes

  • Katherine Heigl reportedly found it “so difficult” to work with Shonda Rhimes on “Grey’s Anatomy”.
  • An anonymous source spoke to Lynette Rice for a new all-encompassing book about life on the set of the drama.
  • Heigl said she had “ambushed” writers when she infamously withdrew her name from Emmy’s consideration.

Former “Grey’s Anatomy” star Katherine Heigl gained a reputation for being “difficult” in Hollywood after her infamous 2010 departure from ABC’s hit medical drama, as Entertainment Weekly editor-in-chief Lynette Rice recounts in “How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy,” But according to the all-encompassing book, there was more to the story behind her departure.

Rice spoke to several sources who chose to remain anonymous for “How to Save a Life.” A “person familiar with the situation” suggested that Rhimes shares some guilt in the matter of Heigl’s departure. According to that source, the “big problem” was that Rhimes “felt like the star of the show and resented the actors becoming their own stars.”

While it was suggested at the time that Heigl had left the hit show because she wanted to pursue a career in movies, Rice’s source said that wasn’t exactly the case. “It had nothing to do with her film career,” the source told Rice. “She wanted out because it was so hard to work with Shonda.”

The source said that while Heigl wasn’t always the easiest person to deal with on set, they feel “Katie got a rough deal” in how the situation played out in public.

A separate anonymous source, identified by Rice as a former ABC Studios director, added that “there could have been a happy medium” where Heigl could have pursued a film career and “stayed six to eight episodes”. [a year]” on “Grey’s Anatomy”. By the book weekly.

“I think Steve McPherson and Shonda were just so fed up, they just said, ‘Get her out,'” said the former studio director per Rice.

Representatives for Rhimes and Heigl did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Shonda Rhimes and Katherine Heigl

Rhimes and Heigl in 2006.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images


Heigl has apologized for some of the public drama between herself and the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ writers

Before her departure, Heigl made headlines for her extremely candid comments about the quality of her storylines on the show.

In 2008 – after already winning an Emmy last year for her role as Dr. Izzie Stevens – Heigl told Entertainment Weekly in a statement that she withdrew her name from Emmy consideration because she “didn’t feel like I had the material” worthy of one of the highest accolades in television during that year’s eligibility period . She also said she wanted to “maintain the integrity of the academy organization.”

“How to Save a Life” tells Heigl’s regrets about that incident, which was seen as a disdain for Rhimes. According to the book, she told Entertainment Weekly in 2010 that she “could have handled the situation more graciously” and discussed the matter privately with the writers of “Grey’s” without causing an “ambush.”

Heigl had also spoken out about working conditions on the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ set in a 2009 appearance on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’, calling the length of her workday “cruel and vicious” and specifically stating that she said hoping to “embarrass” the forces present in the show.

According to the book, Heigl also told Entertainment Weekly in 2010 that she felt “embarrassed” afterwards by how “nagging I sounded” during Letterman’s performance.

Patrick Dempsey, Katherine Heigl, Shonda Rhimes

Heigl and Rhimes pose with Patrick Dempsey in 2005.

“Grey’s Anatomy” (Photo by Carley Margolis/FilmMagic)


“How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy,” out now, gives readers new details about life on the set of the mega-hit drama.

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