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T.R. Knight leaves 'Grey's Anatomy,' Katherine Heigl stays

June 20, 2009|Kate Aurthur

After months of speculation, the questions surrounding the returns of T.R. Knight and Katherine Heigl to "Grey's Anatomy" have been answered. Heigl will be back for its sixth season and Knight will not.

On Friday, ABC e-mailed a statement from the show's creator and executive producer, Shonda Rhimes, confirming that Knight is no longer with the show, while adding, "He is an incredibly talented actor and a person whose strength of character is admired by all of us."

Knight and the rest of the cast became stars when the show became a success after its debut in the spring of 2005. He played George O'Malley, a sensitive doctor from a working-class background.

But it has been a rocky road for Knight at "Grey's." In October 2006, his fellow cast mates Patrick Dempsey and Isaiah Washington had an on-set fight during which Washington reportedly referred to Knight as "a faggot." Knight had not yet come out publicly as gay, but he did so shortly after that widely publicized incident.

Knight and Heigl, his close friend who plays Izzie Stevens, were unhappy that Washington was allowed to remain on "Grey's," particularly after the actor repeated the slur in front of the media at the Golden Globes. (In June 2007, Washington was let go.)

For the last year, the scandal-prone show has been beset by rumors that both Heigl and Knight wanted to leave for good. And the season finale paved the way for a double death. The Izzie character had been suffering from cancer, and it appeared to have gotten the best of her. George, meanwhile, had been run over, injured so badly he was an unrecognizable patient to his friends.

Which, logically, would have made it difficult for Knight to come back under any circumstances. Heigl, on the other hand, who has a burgeoning film career, will return to "Grey's" next season, the final one in her contract.

Through Kelly Bush, his PR person, Knight issued a statement that read in part: "Leaving 'Grey's Anatomy' was not an easy decision for me to make. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to play this character and will miss my fellow cast and crew very much."

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kate.aurthur@latimes.com

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