BREAKING: ABC Pres. disses Melissa George and Brooke Smith, says Callie will soon be in a “dedicated lesbian relationship”

Steve McPhersonABC
Entertainment President Steve McPherson faced a series of questions about Grey’s
Anatomy’
s revolving door of characters after the ABC panel at
the TCA Winter Press Tour today (Melissa George just
announced
she was leaving the show, Janina Gavankar quietly
departed,
and of course, Brooke Smith was famously fired
in October).

Here’s a transcript of the exchange, which took place in a hallway after the
panel (thanks to AfterElton.com‘s Michael
Jensen for reporting back!):

McPherson: Melissa George was a guest for one episode.
Reporter #1: …so many guests just leaving — no, she
was in more than one episode.
McPherson: I’m not going to answer the question, that’s an
absurd question. The only person who has left the show is Isaiah Washington.
Reporter #2: Brooke Smith.
Reporter #3: Melissa had contracted for 8 to 11 episodes,
and she hasn’t gotten 8 to 11 episodes.
McPherson: She didn’t contract for that many episodes, she
was a guest —
Reporter #3: That’s what she said.
McPherson: Well, we all know what everybody says when they
leave the show, they want to say what works best for them."
Reporter #3: She was in more than one episode.
McPherson: Yeah, I think she was in three. She was mentioned
in one and then shown in two other episodes, I think.
Reporter #4: Brooke Smith was in the opening credits at the
start of the season. Was that just, you didn’t like the character —
McPherson: Yeah, the character was not working for us, and
the dynamic with the relationship was not working for us. We felt like Sara
[Ramirez] is such a dynamic character, an amazing actress and woman, and we
really just weren’t seeing the excitement out of that relationship. There
was some mention that we were upset by the lesbian nature of it. She’s going
to be in a dedicated lesbian relationship (chuckling) in the show. So again,
that was an actress who was trying to talk about something in a manner that
would serve her and not the reality.

Hmmm, where to start. First, McPherson calls the reporter’s question about
why there are so many actors leaving "absurd," then he throws
Melissa George under the bus, then he throws Brooke Smith under the bus, and
then he laughs away the idea that anyone could accuse Grey’s of having
a problem with lesbian relationships.

Unfortunately, Steve didn’t do his homework. Aside from not knowing how many
episodes George was in (five), he incorrectly attributed the information about Melissa
George being signed for more than a few episodes to departing comments from
the actress trying to make herself look good.

In fact, the only thing George said in her
announcement
last week about leaving the show was, "It was my choice.
I love the show so much. I’ve made some beautiful friends. I love T.R. Knight.
I love Patrick Dempsey, Justin Chambers … I adore Ellen Pompeo. I think
she’s a strong, incredible woman. And Katherine Heigl is the most beautiful
creature on Earth."

How self-serving of her!

Then there’s McPherson’s implication that the only speculation about ABC execs
having a problem with Callie and Erica’s relationship came from Brooke Smith,
when in fact many other Grey‘s insiders reported it as one of
the factors contributing to the decision to fire her.

Both EW and E! Online reported being told when Smith was fired that the execs
didn’t like Brooke’s character in general, or her relationship with Callie, and E! Online’s Kristin reported
even more widespread de-gaying on the show:

I’m also told by insiders connected to the ABC series that some of the gay-themed
storylines are being downplayed and even erased from upcoming scripts…And
that goes for the series’ latest newcomer, Melissa George of Alias,
who joins the show this month…Melissa came on to the show as a bisexual
character and love interest for Callie (Sara Ramirez), but a reliable insider
tells me, "They changed the script, and now she isn’t. She starts off
flirting with Callie but it never goes anywhere.

And as we’ve seen, Sadie’s flirtation with Callie did, in fact, go nowhere.

Nowhere in McPherson’s comments is any acknowledgment that the writing or storytelling
decisions on the show may even partially responsible for viewers’ mixed reception
to Dr. Hahn’s character or the relationship between Erica and Callie. And the
idea that there’s a revolving door of characters is just, well, absurd, according
to Steve, even though it’s painfully noticeable to viewers and the press.

Buried among all this defensiveness and denial is the news that Callie will
soon be entering into a "dedicated lesbian relationship," presumably
with Dr. Arizona Robbins, played by guest star Jessica Capshaw,
who was unofficially reported
to be a potential love interest for Callie (although she’s only signed for three
episodes so far).

Call me crazy, but I’m having a hard time getting excited about this news given
ABC’s history with the queer storylines and characters on this show, and its
apparent refusal to acknowledge or learn from its mistakes (don’t even get me
started on the Denny-Izzie storyline!)

But what do you think — are you excited about this development?

(For more Grey’s news, see what
McPherson said
about rumors of T.R Knight leaving the show.)

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