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Old 11-04-2008, 04:08 PM   #1
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ABC Dropping Gay Storys: Grey's + Betty Lose Characters

Brace yourselves, Grey's Anatomy fans: The show has parted ways with a female doc who is blond, beautiful, outspoken – and not Katherine Heigl. It's Brooke Smith. As in Dr. Erica Hahn. As in one half of Callica, Grey's first-ever significant gay couple. And that's only part of the story. I'm told this was not Shonda Rhimes' decision but rather an order that came down from the network. (ABC declined to comment.) According to one Grey's source, the suits "had issues" with both the explicit direction Callica was taking (think: undiscovered country, south of the border, etc.) and, more importantly, with the Hahn character in general. Basically, they didn't like her and wanted her gone ASAP. But how soon? And what does this mean for Callica? Keep yourselves braced, because the shocks don't stop in the following Q&A with the sublime Ms. Smith. She deserves better treatment than this, and next go-round, here's hoping she gets it.


AUSIELLO: What the hell happened?!
BROOKE SMITH: I was very excited when they told me that Erica and Callie were going to have this relationship. And I really hoped we were going to show what happens when two women fall in love and that they were going to treat it like any heterosexual couple on TV. And so I was surprised and disappointed when they just suddenly told me that they couldn't write for my character anymore.

That's all they said?
Yes. Frankly, it was you that warned me this might happen on the red carpet back in July. You said [sometimes networks get cold feet] with gay relationships. And I was so naive. I'm like, "It's 2008." But I'm starting to realize that not everyone feels the way I do. [Scroll down to watch our now-infamous exchange.]

Did you get the feeling that the story was making people nervous?
No. At work I had no sense of it. And more fans seemed to like it than not. I don't think I'm ever going to know [why this really happened].

When did you find out?
I found out in mid-September soon after shooting the monologue that aired last week where Erica has the revelation that she's gay. They even came down and told me it was a great scene -- one of the best they ever shot on the show. So I was really, really shocked. I was floored when they told me [I was being let go]. It was the last thing I expected. In fact, when they told me I asked, "When is this happening?" And they said, "The [next episode] is your last," which is the one that airs this Thursday. So it was very sudden.

Wait a second – your last episode is this Thursday?
Yes.

How are you written out?
I'm not written out. My final scene is just me heading to my car. I honestly don't know what happens in the next episode. I heard not much. [Quick sidebar: This sheds new light on Mary McDonnell's arrival next week as a top cardiac doc.]

Who broke the news to you?
Shonda.

I'm hearing that this wasn't her decision, but rather ABC's.
You know, I have to tell you, I got that feeling. I don't know for sure, but it definitely seemed like [Shonda's] hands were tied. That was just my gut.

Did she seem upset?
She did seem upset. I wasn't having a very good week that week. I was like, "Oh, God, what is it with this business?!" And she said, "No, no, no. You are such a great actress. We love you." It seemed like some decision came down from above. It didn't feel like it was her.

What was Sara Ramirez's [Callie] reaction?
She was shocked. I'm the one who told her. It took her a few days to get back to me because she was surprised. It was surprising to everybody.

Were you happy with the direction the story line was taking?
You know, I was starting to get there, yeah. I was personally a little impatient with the gay panic, but it was more Callie's thing anyway. I think Dr. Hahn was sort of figuring it out.

How are you doing with all this?
It's actually never happened to me before. I never had a moment where I thought I did something wrong. I was just really surprised. I just moved my entire family to L.A., so it was kind of like, "What?" But for some reason I feel like I'm fine. I feel like I'm going to be okay.

Okay, Grey's fans. I'm guessing you have some strong opinions about Smith's ouster. Share them in the comments section below. But first, check out my aforementioned (and eerily prescient) interview with the actress from last July.

UPDATE 1: Shonda Rhimes has just released the following statement in response to this story: "Brooke Smith was obviously not fired for playing a lesbian. Clearly it's not an issue as we have a lesbian character on the show – Calliope Torres. Sara Ramirez is an incredible comedic and dramatic actress and we wanted to be able to play up her magic. Unfortunately, we did not find that the magic and chemistry with Brooke's character would sustain in the long run. The impact of the Callie/Erica relationship will be felt and played out in a story for Callie. I believe it belittles the relationship to simply replace Erica with "another lesbian." If you'll remember, Cristina mourned the loss of Burke for a full season."

UPDATE 2: I’ve just spoken with a contact at AfterEllen.com and she is confirming that Brooke Smith is not the only one being let go. Apparently Sara Ramirez will be exiting at roughly episode 15 or 16 and they’re jockeying for an interview with her. According to what I’ve been told, Melissa George has been brought in for Mark’s character because the ABC brass wanted a ‘name’ actor for him and liked Melissa from her stint on Alias. The head honchos are the ones who lured Melissa George into the show and asked Rhimes to create a backstory for her that would connect her with Meredith (or another established character) to ‘ground her’ with roots from the beginning.

-----------------------------------


ABC has also fired Rebecca Romijn from "Ugly Betty", who has played a transgender for two years on the show.


Greys Anatomy - Spoilers
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Old 11-04-2008, 04:39 PM   #2
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What is this all about?
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Old 11-04-2008, 05:28 PM   #3
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No More Girl-On-Girl for 'Grey's Anatomy'
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Old 11-04-2008, 06:29 PM   #4
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And Calli/Sara Ramirez too?
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Old 11-04-2008, 08:12 PM   #5
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I didn't like Hahn anyways...
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Old 11-05-2008, 02:43 AM   #6
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A friend of mine says that ABC is owned by Disney and since they are so ultra conservative, they decided to make this huge move, in backlash to Prop 8.
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Old 11-05-2008, 08:13 AM   #7
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I didn't like Hahns character, and didn't think that Callie and her had any chemistry, but they have to let her go because of that? And Ugly Betty too what the heck is that all about? I wonder if it has anything to with the fact that she's pregnant?

Grey's seems like one show you would definately not want to work for.
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Old 11-05-2008, 09:06 AM   #8
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Disney is ultra conservative? I thought they were openly supportive of gay rights, maybe I'm wrong.

I don't think the Grey's case has anything to do with any anti gay sentiments, but it is VERY poor practice to deal with an actor and storyline in that way. I don't think that show knows how to handle many situations, maybe it's imploding and this is a symptom.

Don't know enough about the Ugly Betty issue- I would think they would tread very carefully with a pregnancy situation.
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Old 11-05-2008, 11:33 AM   #9
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Yeah, I don't think Disney is known for being ultra-conservative, either. Last I heard, they were indeed supportive of gay rights.

I don't watch either show, but to have both of these things happen around the same time does not bode well for ABC's intentions. It should be interesting to see how this all plays out.
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Old 11-05-2008, 05:59 PM   #10
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If it has nothing to do with the lesbian storyline it must be the ultimate in lazy writing/producing to just abruptly get rid of a character like that because you don't know what to do with a storyline (that's what daytime soaps do). I think the show is evidence of lazy writing in general, and I think the well has probably dried up long before this fiasco. But it does make them look really bad, especially in light of the Isaiah Washington scandal and all that followed..


Today "Grey's Anatomy" star Patrick Dempsey goes on Ellen and talks about the surprise firing of Brooke Smith, one half of the show's new lesbian relationship:

"ABC actually sends me over what I should [say] ...," he tells Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show Wednesday.


So what's the official spin?

"ABC's response ... is that [I] should say: 'We've had a great time working with her and that the conclusion of her [character] has been orgasmic' -- I'm sorry, I'm dyslexic! -- 'organic' ending to the story line.' "

Some have argued that Smith was axed because of her character's developing relationship with Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez).

Grey's Anatomy's creator, Shonda Rhimes, previously released a statement insisting that "Brooke Smith was obviously not fired for playing a lesbian."

"Thursday night is her last show, which is too bad she has been a great character," McDreamy continues. "I don't know what happened with that story line. They decided not to continue it for some reason."
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Old 11-05-2008, 06:53 PM   #11
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I've still not heard anything in the media from either of the show's producers, from ABC, from Disney or anyone that helps me understand what's transpired this week regarding story lines and/or show characters being let go from shows regarding gay issues. Maybe we, the viewers will never hear the entire story or understand it.
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