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Greys-anatomy

An Extended Interview With the 2006 Entertainers of the Year

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Yesterday, we reported the exciting news that the Grey's Anatomy cast was named Entertainment Weekly's entertainers of the year. Clearly, the Insider agrees they are a deserving bunch. Below is the full article from the publication explaining why it made its choice:

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Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo are snuggled in a rumpled bed, and he is looking at her. And by looking at her, we mean looking at her.

It is the look that has sent several fictional lives on Grey's Anatomy into dramatic tailspins and has given millions of fans endless fantasy material.

Ellen & PatrickAnd yet, Ellen Pompeo is... giggling. Hysterically.

She apologizes, but she cannot stop.

A patient Patrick Dempsey morphs from smoldering leading man to bemused costar to, finally, stern taskmaster: "Quiet, close your eyes, and breathe deeply." She does, and for a take or two, it works â€" Dempsey, as Dr. Derek Shepherd, can peacefully (well, except for the snoring) observe his lover, Dr. Meredith Grey, as she slumbers.

Then her laughter breaks loose again, and Pompeo storms off the bedroom set, shouting, "I can't work with him anymore!"

She is careful, later, to explain that this was just a joke (people are a bit sensitive around the set of the ABC hit these days). But emotions do run high â€" and fast â€" when it comes to Grey's Anatomy. Its myriad moods change from sexy to funny to dramatic to silly, making for an intoxicating thrill ride that is as unpredictable as it is unmissable.

Since their first half-season in 2005, Seattle Grace's improbably hot surgical staffers have gone from midseason replacements to bona fide stars. And now, having relocated to the toughest time slot on TV, Grey's has become nothing short of a phenomenon, luring an average of 21.4 million fans every week and consistently topping Thursday-night behemoth CSI in the 18-49 demographic.

How did they do it?

"The characters are so human," says ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson. "Life is messy, it's funny, it's tragic, it's dramatic, and this show captures that."

For maintaining that deft dramatic balance, for performing a powerful emotional alchemy that transforms the hospital-show genre into something exciting rather than exhausted, and for casting perhaps the most telegenic assemblage of actors in the last decade â€" for all of these reasons, we have chosen the cast of Grey's Anatomy as our Entertainers of the Year.

Grey's Anatomy makes good use of familiar soapy tropes â€" on-again/off-again couples, tangly love triangles, gratuitous shirtless scenes â€" but it never devolves into cliché. You can say the Preston Burke-Cristina Yang romance is nothing more than the old opposites-attract shtick... but you can't say you've seen the old boy-gets-tremor-in-hand-and-girl-must-help-cover-it-up-to-prove-her-love story too many times.

And just before a will they or won't they moves into eye-rollingly tiresome territory, most of these couples do â€" sometimes successfully, oftentimes not. The triangles keep evolving. And nobody, especially our put-upon title character, is above making some astoundingly bad judgment calls.

"We don't make apologies for anything," says Chandra Wilson, 36, who plays the hard-nosed, softhearted Dr. Miranda Bailey. "We're not the morality police."

That attitude allows the show to take risks: making Derek's estranged, cheating ex-wife, Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh, 39), a likable character; letting sensitive Dr. Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl, 28) fall for a heart-transplant patient (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, 40), only to kill him accidentally and inherit his $8 million; consummating the crush that sweet intern George O'Malley (T.R. Knight, 33) harbored on mixed-up Meredith.

The Meredith-George liaison "was shocking, even for me personally," says Pompeo, 37 (Knight, along with Walsh and Heigl, declined to participate in this story.) "I've been kissing Patrick since I met him, but I was like, No, that's my T! I can't make out with him!"

Adds Sandra Oh, 35, who plays tightly wound Dr. Yang, "When we saw that for the first time at a table read, we were like, Nooooo!"

That's precisely the reaction creator/exec producer Shonda Rhimes, 36, was hoping for. "When people say they hate what's happening, and then go on to describe in detail everything they hate, I know they're really paying attention and have strong feelings about the characters," she says.

"That's a good sign."

True enough: Few other shows can inspire so much fan ardor with such flawed characters.

"You see them when they're not nice, but by the end of the episode they're doing something heroic," says James Pickens Jr., 54, who plays chief of surgery (and former lover of Meredith's mom, Ellis) Richard Webber. "The show takes you through these murky waters of these people's lives, and you come back because you want to see them heading north again."

Pompeo certainly spends a good part of her press time defending her boy-crazy, whiny alter ego.

"If Meredith Grey were a man," she insists, "everyone would say, Oh, how interesting he is!"

But recent addition Eric Dane â€" a.k.a. Mark "McSteamy" Sloan â€" would like to see Pompeo's broke-up-a-marriage story line and raise her a no-discernible-redeeming-qualities character.

"Dr. Sloan's the most flawed," Dane, 34, contends. "But he's just trying to cope with his issues, and using some pretty interesting tools to cope."

He needn't worry too much. The show's audience has easily embraced new additions like Dane, Walsh, and Sara Ramirez, 31 (brash orthopedic surgeon Callie Torres). The secret, Rhimes says, is to make sure they're integral to developing story lines and to give them a hell of an entrance â€" like Sloan stepping out of the shower wearing a cloud of steam and not much else, which Rhimes calls "one of my favorite moments ever."

The weekly medical cases are just as satisfyingly over-the-top, from the grotesque (kid impaled by tree), to the naughty (a couple stuck together mid-coitus), to the grippingly personal (Bailey's husband in brain surgery while she's giving birth), to the spectacular (an explosive lodged inside a patient's chest). All of them, of course, resonate metaphorically with the doctors' own struggles.

"To have these deep, disturbing medical cases and also have us laughing about our love interests is really powerful," says Ramirez. Are the medical maladies ridiculous sometimes? Sure â€" but they're rarely boring.

"Real doctors do not have this many amazing cases," says Justin Chambers, 36 (Dr. Alex Karev), "but we need to be appointment television every week."

That said, being appointment television brings with it certain rites of passage â€" and this fall, the cast experienced a big one: the behind-the-scenes scandal going public. An on-set blowup between Dempsey, 40, and Isaiah Washington, 43, received almost instant, worldwide press.

The attention increased exponentially when it leaked out that Washington had reportedly used a homophobic slur during the dustup â€" and 10 days later Knight confirmed he is gay via a statement to People magazine.

At that point, everyone on Grey's Anatomy experienced first-hand the dark side of the hit-TV-show spotlight. "We learned that we have to watch what we say," explains Washington (who plays the sexy, aloof Dr. Burke). "We have to make sure we're more accountable."

Dempsey says getting past the flap has strengthened the cast's bonds: "I think the explosion really healed the show.... No one passed the buck, and everyone owned up to the situation and moved on."

Fans have remained loyal, and the ratings haven't suffered. Now all Rhimes and Co. need to do is figure out how to keep our hearts pounding, while also moving the show beyond twisted romantic geometry.

"I'm more interested in what happens when a couple stays together," Oh says. "I'm thinking of, like, The Sopranos, with Tony and Carmela's relationship â€" that sort of thing really allows you to move with your character."

Rhimes agrees.

"I hate when characters keep breaking up for no reason," she says.

She promises the surgeons will progress, both professionally (in Grey's Anatomy time, they've only been interns for six or seven months) and, more importantly, with the fascinating and maddening character development viewers have grown dependent on.

"I like things to happen," Shonda says. "I like characters who mess up. And I want to make this a show that I want to watch."

Well, Ms. Rhimes, you have extremely good taste.

Patrick & Ellen

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

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The tv guide website says on Jan. 4th there will be back to back episodes of GA, which are the last two episodes shown in Nov. and the new episode will be aired on Jan. 11th.
Gosh, we have to wait an additional week before we have a new episode...I don't like that!
7 weeks is way too long to wait for a new episode of Grey's Anatomy! They didn't do it like that last year. They only had 1-2 weeks without a new episode during the holidays! Oh well, maybe they will have alot of commercials the week before leading up to the NEW episode like they did when the new season started! I feel like we have waited forever! (ha) Can't wait to see whats in store for MER/DER. On the writers blog from the last episode in Nov. she said she knew everyone was disappointed that we had not seen alot of Mer/Der time since they got back together, but there was so much to cover in those few episodes from the other characters. But, not to worry......she said that they were very happy and very much in love and there was alot of good stuff ahead for Mer/Der. I Can't wait! Love Ellen and Patrick together as a couple!

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omg! lol, there is so much 2 talk about from that one article, but did u ever think it might be bailey's son's birthday or sum1 elses birthday? when is the air date for aus? coz i'v been downloadin the eps... have the us eps. been put on hold or somethin? is that what ur all talkin bout jan the 11th 4? oh well... plz give more info!!! :p

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To the one who asked if Chandra is younger than Ellen. Chandra is three months older than Ellen, and Kate is two years older than both of them.

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LOL That doesn't look like Burke in the picture to me unless he grew a goatee between Thanksgiving and whenever this was shot. LOL. It doesn't look like the Chief to me either. Maybe they are relatives of the Chief though and maybe this is a retirement party or the renewal of wedding vows that someone suggested a few weeks back. Or, maybe it is simply a staged photo shoot with no relevance at all to the storyline.

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I don't know that the picture was staged for the article. It looks to me like it was something from one of the episodes so whether or not they were in the article doesn't necessarily mean they would not be in the picture. If it was a picture posed simply for this article it isn't of the wedding of anyone and we really don't know any more than we did before about who is getting married. If it is a wedding, the person in red could be any wedding guest. It just didn't look like Cristina to me, but you may be right.

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WHATTTT? it isn't starting again till the 11th? what the heck, why not the 4th?

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Oh, that is such a Great Pic of Ellen & Patrick!
Can't wait for the episode behind that Picture!!!!!

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I saw where GA is NOT starting back on Jan. 4th with a new episode...it will be Jan. 11th!
What a disappointment!

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Kate Walsh, Katherine Heigl and TRK declined to do the photoshoot and the article so the girl is sandra in the read cause the 3 above dont appear in it because they didn't want to for some reason!! I think ita just a photshoot and mer/der are so cute!

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I was thinking that if the Richard did happen to retire is there a possibility this could be his party? Just a suggestion because when Shonda mentioned the wedding she didn't say how soon it would be did she?

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)

There's a reason I said I'd be happy alone. It wasn't 'cause I thought I'd be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It's easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don't have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It's like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.

Meredith
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