After Heigl's Emmy comments, the ''Grey's Anatomy'' writers might send the doctor to the morgue

Between her botched romance with George and her lack of purpose in the Seattle Grace OR, Izzie Stevens never did seem like she could live without her beloved Denny Duquette. Now she may not have to: Two sources have confirmed that producers may allow her portrayer, Katherine Heigl, to exit Grey’s Anatomy — by way of the morgue. Spokeswomen for both ABC and the actress are denying the rumor, but the insiders say killing Izzie may be the most obvious way to silence the candid actress, who took a swipe at the Grey‘s writers last month when she said that she was dropping out of this year’s Emmy race because ”I did not feel I was given the material…to warrant a nomination.” The declaration, which came less than a year after she scored her first statuette, was construed by many as a not-so-veiled attempt to leave Grey‘s so that she can focus on her promising film career. (Click herefor columnist Mark Harris’ take on the Heigl brouhaha.)

After the success of Knocked Up and 27 Dresses, Heigl has been widely pursued for future movie roles; next April, she’ll appear opposite Gerard Butler in the romantic comedy The Ugly Truth. And if she really does want to leave Grey‘s, it wouldn’t be the first time Heigl has tried to prematurely bolt a TV series: In 2001, the actress and her agent rallied to release her from the sci-fi drama Roswell when it moved from The WB to UPN, but that request was nixed. Like all of the Grey‘s actors, Heigl is signed to a multiyear contract that’s not set to expire until roughly 2010, though fans still harboring a grudge over last season’s awkward George-Izzie pairing may welcome her early departure. Of course, cooler heads could ultimately prevail once the Emmy flap dies down. If that’s the case, it seems unlikely that creator Shonda Rhimes would grant Heigl an exit strategy, especially when making the actress fulfill her contract could be seen as a harsher penalty. That is, if anyone can call collecting a $100K-plus weekly salary a penalty. — with additional reporting by Michael Ausiello

Some highlights (and one hilarious low point) from Katherine Heigl’s career

Emmy’s: 1
Television series: 2
Pairs of pants in this season’s Katherine Heigl Collection scrubs line: 9

Total gross for Knocked Up: $149 million
Total gross for Zyzzyx Road: $30
Total Movies: 25