Ellen Pompeo says post-COVID she hopes that nobody goes back to 24 or 22 episodes a season: “It’s just causing people to be exhausted, pissed, sad, depressed. It’s a really, really unhealthy model” https://t.co/F88BUpjKh4— Variety (@Variety) October 28, 2020
The mid- to late-2000s were the height of glossy gossip magazines such as Us Weekly (and its copycats), as well as the inception of TMZ and Perez Hilton as celebrity-hounding, news-breaking forces that fueled (and soiled) the fame-industrial complex. The cast of “Grey’s Anatomy” was firmly in the sights of these new, often toxic forces in media.
Pompeo says the cast was so talented that it “was all worth it” — but yes, the transition to stardom was hard for the group: “At the time, it was just a real combination of exhaustion and stress and drama. Actors competing with each other — and envious.”
Heigl, Knight and Isaiah Washington all went through press cycles that made the show seem scandal-prone. To rehash it all now seems pointless; you can look it up. Washington was fired in June 2007. Knight and Heigl asked to be written out of the show preemptively, in Seasons 5 and 6, respectively.
Vernoff and the other writers were watching the internal messes unfold. They had to deal with how the fallout affected the show’s plot, as when Washington was fired just as Burke, his character, was about to marry Cristina. “When word comes down that an actor is leaving the show, and what you’ve got scripted is a wedding …” Vernoff trails off, laughing.
“There was a lot of drama on-screen and drama off-screen, and young people navigating intense stardom for the first time in their lives,” she continues. “I think that a lot of those actors, if they could go back in time and talk to their younger selves, it would be a different thing. Everybody’s grown and changed and evolved — but it was an intense time.”
Pompeo doesn’t want to talk about what happened with individual actors from the show, because when she has in the past, “it doesn’t get received in the way in which I intend it to be.” But she does make a point about the way television is produced. “Nobody should be working 16 hours a day, 10 months a year — nobody,” she says. “And it’s just causing people to be exhausted, pissed, sad, depressed. It’s a really, really unhealthy model. And I hope post-COVID nobody ever goes back to 24 or 22 episodes a season.
“It’s why people get sick. It’s why people have breakdowns. It’s why actors fight! You want to get rid of a lot of bad behavior? Let people go home and sleep.”
I’m constantly fighting for the show as a whole to be as good as it can be. As a producer, I feel like I have the permission to be able to do that.'
'I mean, this is the last year of my contract right now. I don’t know that this is the last year? But it could very well could be.'
'There’s your soundbite! There’s your clickbait! ABC’s on the phone!”'
'The "Grey's Anatomy" women (Chandra Wilson, Debbie Allen, Ellen Pompeo, and Krista Vernoff) opened up about some of their favorite episodes of the past 17 seasons, how they're filming during the Coronavirus pandemic, and why the prolific series might be coming to an end soon. This conversation is a part of Variety's Power of Women event.'
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