Pickens Vows to Rein in Crazy Interns

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Actor James Pickens Jr., who plays "The Chief" on Grey's Anatomy, knows he's got to do something about the libidinous interns on the hit show.

"They're driving me crazy," Pickens said in a recent interview, adopting his character's familiar look of exasperation. "I've got to put them on lockdown or do something. Hopefully, I'm going to start putting a rein on them."

The results of his efforts, however futile, are back on display as Grey's Anatomy begins its third season. In last week's premiere, Izzie struggled to accept Denny's fate, Dr. Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) professed his love for Meredith, and Dr. Burke's career was still in jeopardy. As for the Chief, a.k.a. Dr. Richard Webber, he was given an ultimatum by his wife, Adele.

James Pickens, Jr.
Just another day at the office.

Some viewers might consider the romantic hijinks on Grey's to be somewhat far-fetched, but Pickens said doctors tell him the show is right on the mark.

"Right after the first season... I happened to be at a social gathering where there was a physician couple who were both pediatric surgeons. The first thing they picked up on was the sex. They said 'Yeah, the on-call room, that's always the place,'" he said.

Pickens, 51, whose previous TV credits include Beverly Hills 90210, Roseanne, and The Practice, acknowledged that the show's staggering popularity has changed his everyday life.

"This thing has gone above and beyond what I believe anyone thought it would," he said. "The downside of that -- if there is one -- is, you know, you come into 20 million households every night, now, walking down the street has a different flavour to it. Your privacy is not so private anymore. But it kind of goes with the territory."

To get away from the spotlight, Pickens turns to his favorite hobby -- cattle roping.

"It's a great escape from the craziness of Hollywood. It's a nice therapy for me. Even when I don't rope, just getting my horse outside is a great way to collect myself and be out in nature," he said.

Pickens couldn't reveal what's in store for The Chief this season, but if the premiere was any indication, it's looking tumultuous. His character's rocky marriage and history as an alcoholic will surely be explored, along with his relationship with Meredith's mother, Ellis Grey (Kate Burton).

As for whether the antics at SGH can maintain their hold on viewers, Pickens lauded the writers on the program, suggesting there are plenty of wild plot turns to come.

"We've only seen part of the onion peeled back. The residents technically still have three years left, which in TV time could be seven years," he said. "There's a lot of story there."

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


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I am so looking forward to this evening's episode, which is amazing because I strongly resisted watching Grey's Anatomy the first season. I used to hang around with interns and residents. In real time, they were the most sex-crazed partiers(?) I've ever experienced and I just thought I didn't want to watch another sex-crazed TV series. Then, one Sunday during the second season, I watched and got hooked. Grey's is so much more than I thought it would be. For me, it's all about relationships and people, reflecting their personal development, spiritual growth (yeah!) and there is so much wisdom. It's intelligent soap opera for Baby Boomers!! It's my Thursday night "date." I really do live vicariously through it. Please, please keep it on forever. Incidentally, I watched Shonda pitching "General Hospital." Wow, she rocks -- what an alluring and beautiful person; a thoughtful writer! I love her blog on abc.com. To everyone connected with the show -- keep up the good work. Thanks.


In the pilot episode, I thought the chief said the interns would spend 7 years at Seattle Grace as a surgical resident. Surely 4 years couldn't have gone by already. I disagree that the interns only have 3 years left. That's crazy talk! ;-) I think Shonda addressed the passage of time somewhere in her blog - I just can't remember where at the moment.


If the three years of internship can last seven on television as James Pickens, Jr. says, I am looking forward to the next seven years of Grey's Anatomy. Hopefully this season we will find out more about why Ellis and the Chief ended their relationship and why he chose to stay with his wife way back in the beginning. It is hard in the light of today to put those decisions into the perspective of twenty years ago. This is my favorite show since the end of Friends. Every character is so well developed and portrayed. The diversity of ethnic and racial backgrounds represented each week is not only refreshing, but makes a profound statement. Thank you for creating people that we care about and for whom we want the best. I'm rooting for my favorite character, Dr. Burke, to keep both his career and Cristina. I hope Meridith and Derek will find a way to be together. I like Addison and hope she can find happiness with someone else, like Mark or even Finn. I'm cheering for Izzie to be reinstated in the program and to pick up her relationship with Alex. I want nice guy George and Calli to be happy. I love Bailey and would like to know more about her life away from Seattle Grace. You have brought me and I'm sure many others back to network television.


Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)

Burke was- He took something from me. He took little pieces of me, little pieces over time, so small I didn't even notice, you know? He wanted me to be something I wasn't, and I made myself into what he wanted. One day I was me Cristina Yang, and then suddenly I was lying for him, and jeopardizing my career, and agreeing to be married and wearing a ring, and being a bride. Until I was standing there in a wedding dress with no eyebrows, and I wasn't Cristina Yang anymore. And even then, I would've married him. I would have. I lost myself for a long time. And now that I'm finally me again, I can't. I love you. I love you more than I loved Burke. I love you. And that scares the crap out of me because when you asked me to ignore Teddy's page, you took a piece of me, and I let you. And that will never happen again.