Drea de Matteo to exit ''Housewives.'' Plus, scoop on ''The Big Bang Theory'' and ''Grey's Anatomy''

By Michael Ausiello
March 05, 2010 at 05:00 AM EST

Drea de Matteo to Exit Housewives
Avaluable piece of real estate is about to open up along America’s most popular cul-de-sac: Drea de Matteo is leaving Desperate Housewives in May. But series creator Marc Cherry insists tabloid talk that the Emmy-winning Sopranos vet was fired because she wasn’t clicking with the cast is not true. ”When I heard that stuff, I was stunned,” confesses Cherry. ”We adore her. She is the sweetest gal in the world.”

The reality is, de Matteo’s stint on Housewives was never intended to go beyond this season, according to Cherry. ”Part of the deal when we hired Drea was she was only interested in doing one season,” he explains. ”She has a baby and is eager to get back to her life in New York.”

It’s fair to say de Matteo won’t be terribly missed by Housewives fans, many of whom never warmed to her icy character, fugitive matriarch Angie Bolen. But Cherry believes that has less to do with the actress and more to do with the nature of her story line. ”We shielded parts of her character because of the mystery,” he says. ”As we build toward the end and we start undoing the many layers of [Angie], everyone will get how brilliant she is.”

Cherry declined to reveal how Angie will exit Wisteria Lane (body bag? plane ticket?). Instead, he teases that the arrival in April of Torchwood‘s John Barrowman as the man she has been on the run from will build to ”an explosive finale,” during which ”all the mysterious parts of her past will be revealed.” As long as it doesn’t involve a dungeon, we’re cool.


Will Big Bang Beam Up Spock?
Sheldon’s dream of meeting Leonard Nimoy may soon become a reality on The Big Bang Theory. Executive producer Bill Prady says the hit sitcom will likely approach the Star Trek legend early next season about making a cameo. ”We’ll make a general inquiry,” says Prady. ”And if there’s interest, we’ll develop a story. The fans have said that’s the dream get, and we agree.” Nimoy (below) declined an invitation to appear on Big Bang back in season 2, although the 78-year-old has since returned to television with a recurring gig on Fringe. ”There’s always an issue with actors playing themselves,” Prady theorizes, ”which most actors would rather not do.” Perhaps Nimoy would be more amenable to playing a cloned version of himself? Sheldon (Jim Parsons) does, after all, possess a napkin with the actor’s DNA on it. ”I think [cloning Nimoy] is beyond even Sheldon’s capabilities at this point,” says Prady with a laugh. ”Although I wouldn’t underestimate him.”

Grey’s: Heigl In, Two Others Out
After being MIA for much of the season, Katherine Heigl (above) is poised to return to Grey’s Anatomy in April, but for how long? ”No one knows,” confides an ABC insider. More certain is the fate of Mercy West transplants Robert Baker (Dr. Percy) and Nora Zehetner (Dr. Adamson), both of whom I hear will be checking out of Seattle Grace in May. There’s no word on fellow ”invaders” Jesse Williams (Dr. Avery) and Sarah Drew (Dr. Kepner), but Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes has until June to decide whether to exercise the series-regular options in their contracts. Here’s hoping Rhimes takes a pro-exercise position, ’cause we like those two.