Katherine Heigl to Take Leave of Absence From Grey's Anatomy

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Katherine Heigl will be taking a five-episode hiatus from Grey's Anatomy to film the Greg Berlanti-directed romantic comedy Life as We Know It, EW reports this afternoon.

Grey’s Anatomy producers have accommodated Heigl’s busy schedule before, but this is the first time they have given her permission to leave for an extended period.

Heigl’s absence "will be explained on screen," although it’s not yet clear how.

The fact that Katherine was granted such a lengthy leave is surprising in light of the public tongue-lashing ABC president Steve McPherson gave her last month for complaining about a 17-hour work day on the set filming this coming season.

Also, Heigl’s departure - which starts this month and will kick in on screen around November - will almost certainly overlap with co-star Ellen Pompeo’s maternity leave.

Translation: Grey’s Anatomy will be without Izzie and Mer at the same time.

Ready to Get Married

What do you think prompts Izzie Stevens to temporarily check out?

Of course, Grey’s Anatomy boss Shonda Rhimes said over the summer that this kind of change would be in the air this season: "Eventually, everybody is going to leave the show,” she said, referencing T.R. Knight’s exit and the temporary loss of Pompeo.

"So we’re looking at [ways] we can mess with the structure now. Season 6 is about finding the longevity of the show and figuring out if there is a future beyond these characters.”

Not so coincidentally, Grey’s Anatomy recently announced it was adding three new doctors to its rotation at Seattle Grace Hospital: Nota Zehetner, Robert Baker, and Jesse Williams are joining Seattle Grace as recurring residents /medical professionals.

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


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I don't like the new people characters and actors. Especially the two guys. They don't fit in, don't like their looks or the characters. I guess I can get use to the actress though. On a side note. I hate the lesbian theme. They need to do away with it. They are beautiful women who should be dating men. I hate the intimate scenes, makes me cringe. The show can stand on it own, I don't think they have to use a gay theme to reach that market. I don't have a problem with them as humans, I work with many and get along with them great, but I don't want to see them display intimacy.


well i've been a fan of this show since it began, and my favorite have always been Izzie and Alex and if they are no more i don't think i would watch it. I hope she comes back.


There will need to be a really strong storyline to keep GA going if both Ellen adn KH are away at the same time. Two very big holes to fill. Der getting a Mer free storyline, Chandra directing hope they don't do a botch job


I've just read an article that says KH is the only breakout star from GA, she's the jennifer Anniston while everyone else is Matt Leblanc. The article said ABC would be in a difficult position if the most bankable star were to leave. She is a film star who people follow even if she appears in rubbish romcoms. I kinda get the point of the article. But actress' have a shorter career span in romcoms than their male counterparts. How many good actresses have complained about the lack of parts once they reach a certain age. I think KH is making the most of her opportunity whilst its there.


I think Iz disappearing for 5 episodes will have consequences for her marriage to Alex. I think it would never have occured to Alex to marry Iz if he hadn't been given the wedding on a plate.


I agree with kiki, she's gonna die


Un-frickin-believable! C'mon Shonda...you've been doing sooo good all this time! Please tell me you're not messing it up now! What's with all this talk about 'all the characters leaving eventually' and what not! I agree with the person that said, well then what reason would we have to continue calling it "Grey's Anatomy"? I just can't imagine the show being as great as it is now WITHOUT Bailey's interns-now residents- was hoping to see them EVENTUALLY become attendings and so on and so forth. I'm still gonna keep my fingers crossed, though, and really hope u know what you're doing...


DELIGHTED that we'll have a 5 epi respite for her whining & annoyance!


This is the problem with these corporate TV shows. They think more about how long can we make money - vs how long can we tell good stories. I think this could really suck for Grey's if it gets to the point where people go..why is it called "Grey's Anatomy" The problem with Season 5 was that it was seriously bloated with new DRs in and out. The scenes were not directed well - choppy - unlike the brilliant direction in the first few seasons. They should focus on these characters that they have - come up with a way to end the series and be done at least by season 7. Gone is the time where people really love seeing shows last years and years. I think Lost, Sopranos, Sex and the City and Six feet under prove this.


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.