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Rhimes says she and Heigl have a 'wonderful working relationship'

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Shonda_l

Shonda_l Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes (pictured) said she was “surprised” but “wasn’t insulted” by comments made by Katherine Heigl about her decision to drop out of the Emmy race and added that she has a “really wonderful working relationship” with the outspoken actress.

“We have a really great story worked out for Heigl,” said Rhimes, who participated in a showrunner panel at the TV critics press tour on Thursday along with Lost’s Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, Ugly Betty’s Silvio Horta, Desperate Housewives’ Marc Cherry, and Brothers & Sisters’ Greg Berlanti. “It was not an insult of the writers per se,” Rhimes went on. “The first half of the season had a very strong storyline with Izzie and George, but it [played] more comedic than most of Katie’s storyline in the past. I wrote the back half light for Katherine so she could do her movie. So I didn’t feel insulted.”

Inside sources have told EW.com that Rhimes has considered killing Izzie off in the coming season of Grey’s, but Rhimes would not confirm those rumors. When Rhimes was further pressed by a reporter who wanted to know what it’s like to deal with difficult actors, Cherry jumped in with an anecdote from Housewives’ notorious Vanity Fair cover shoot a few years back that mushroomed into a tabloid tale of dueling divas fighting over who stands where in the now-memorable photo.

“You have to pretend [the actors] are real people and you talk to them,” said Cherry, whose comment was met with laughter. “What was so sad about that disastrous Vanity Fair thing was that the writer saw it from one perspective. It was so much more complicated, real, and understandable. I ended up hugging a sobbing actress in her trailer by saying,`This, too, shall pass.’ I try to give [the actors] the best advice. This isn’t real life. It’s showbiz. It may be controversial now, but pretty soon they are going to forget you and really attack Lost.”

Speaking of of Lost, it turns out it was that show’s story line that inspired Cherry to forward Housewives‘ action five years into the future for the upcoming season. “I was so impressed with the bold stroke that Damon and Carlton did with the season finale,” Cherry said. “I wanted to pare down the show to have small but relatable problems. So I said, why not just go forward in time? Originally, I wanted to do an eight-year jump but someone explained to me how the actresses may react to being eight years older. So I said, `Okay, let’s do five.’”

Cherry also declared that he’s ending the show after seven seasons.

Other highlights from the showrunner panel:

  • Rhimes said she met with GLAAD representatives to discuss how to further the lesbian storyline between Callie and Erica. In the Grey’s season finale, the two characters exchanged a kiss. “We talked about women who figure out they are lesbians later in life,” she explained. “We are really able to find humorous and serious emotional stuff to play.” As for Private Practice, Rhimes said the 100-day writers’ strike allowed her to rethink the show and where it should go in the second season. “The medical cases bring a moral and ethical dilemma for the characters. Those shows really brought heart and made me excited [for the new season]. I don’t think we’re talking about less soap, per se. We’re talking about making the medical cases stronger.”
  • Lindelof said the strike was a blessing in disguise because it gave him and Cuse a chance to “course correct” on the back end of last season after getting feedback from family and peers. This upcoming season “we will not have that safety net,” he says. “We’ll begin at the end of August and we’ll be done writing by the end of February. So there’s no opportunity to get feedback, which quite frankly scares the sh– out of us.”

Speaking of of Lost, it turns out it was that show’s story line that inspired Cherry to forward Housewives‘ action five years into the future for the upcoming season. “I was so impressed with the bold stroke that Damon and Carlton did with the season finale,” Cherry said. “I wanted to pare down the show to have small but relatable problems. So I said, why not just go forward in time? Originally, I wanted to do an eight-year jump but someone explained to me how the actresses may react to being eight years older. So I said, `Okay, let’s do five.’”

Cherry also declared that he’s ending the show after seven seasons.

Other highlights from the showrunner panel:

  • Rhimes said she met with GLAAD representatives to discuss how to further the lesbian storyline between Callie and Erica. In the Grey’s season finale, the two characters exchanged a kiss. “We talked about women who figure out they are lesbians later in life,” she explained. “We are really able to find humorous and serious emotional stuff to play.” As for Private Practice, Rhimes said the 100-day writers’ strike allowed her to rethink the show and where it should go in the second season. “The medical cases bring a moral and ethical dilemma for the characters. Those shows really brought heart and made me excited [for the new season]. I don’t think we’re talking about less soap, per se. We’re talking about making the medical cases stronger.”
  • Lindelof said the strike was a blessing in disguise because it gave him and Cuse a chance to “course correct” on the back end of last season after getting feedback from family and peers. This upcoming season “we will not have that safety net,” he says. “We’ll begin at the end of August and we’ll be done writing by the end of February. So there’s no opportunity to get feedback, which quite frankly scares the sh– out of us.”