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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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I thought that was addison, and the others are burke, the chief and I think that's alex right?
Anyway I love this pic of merder, look so cute.

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I see the red dress, but I sure can't tell who is in the picture. Do you think it is Cristina?

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well, if you look really close, you can see what looks like Cristina in a red dress ((definetly not a wedding dress)) .... so unfortunatly, i think the rumors of a george and callie wedding might be true... i just think its odd that they have known each other the shortest amount of time and they are already getting married?!?!?! i wish the wedding was between Derek and Meredith or, better yet, Burke and Cristina...
who knows though... maybe this picture isnt quite what it seems. Guess we'll have to wait till "January to find out!!!!

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awwww how cute do they look in that pic....;)

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The picture of Ellen and Patrick is GREAT! Always like to see new pics of them together because they are so cute as a couple. Kinda like all of the pics from the NY & CO. ads! Can't wait to see that upcoming episode from this new picture! They are definately the best couple on TV! THey seem like a real life couple because they have such great chemistry and get along so well! They laugh at each other and smile at each other all the Time when they are together!
Someone was asking about the comment from the magazine article that Ellen said "I can't work with him anymore"......she(Ellen) said was a joke. I took that as if she couldn't stop laughing in that particular scene and was joking around! Why she did that, I don't know, whether she and Patrick were joking around or just her joking???? I didn't take it to mean anything but a JOKE.
Anyway, excited about the Entertainment Weekly naming Grey's Cast as Entertatiners of 2006 and excited about Patrick Ellen and Katherine with their Golden GLobe nominations and The Grey's Show as well! I wish them ALL so much luck and can't wait to tune in for that show on the 15th of Jan.

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That picture is great, and you gotta see the rest of the pictures and read the article in Entertainment Weekly! It's fantastic!

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This is a pic from the wedding. Where did they find this?? I wonder who is getting married???

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Great picture!! Can't wait to see what episode this is from. They look gorgeous together.

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Thanks, luvthisshow. I am feeling better about it all the time. Sydney, if this is the prmo for the wedding, it won't be Meredith and Derek since she is definitely not wearing a wedding gown. Really cute picture though. I still can't believe the wedding would be George and Callie, so I am still hoping for Burke and Cristina, though I am probably just wishful thinking.

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ahh i just figured it out,
IT'S THE PROMO FOR THE WEDDING!