HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - Some TV producers are secretive about their upcoming plots, but most are willing to leak out a few morsels to get viewers eager for the new season. Not Shonda Rhimes, creator and executive producer of ABC's Grey's Anatomy, which moves to 9 p.m. Thursday to challenge CBS' CSI when it returns with new episodes Sept. 21.
On the Seattle Grace Hospital set, Rhimes offered just a few nuggets, including news that Diahann Carroll will guest star.
"I can't tell you who she's playing, what disease she's got, if she's got a disease at all," Rhimes said, explaining that she simply dislikes spoilers.
Rhimes is more forthcoming about CSI, which CBS executives disingenuously positioned as the underdog in that ratings fight.
"I love the concept that CSI, the No. 1 drama on television, is the underdog," Rhimes said, laughing. "We're gonna take our shot. I'm a competitive person, and I think Thursday is a competitive night."
Grey's Anatomy ended in May with plenty of questions: Izzie (Katherine Heigl) quit the surgical intern program after the death of Denny and some unprofessional behavior; will she return? Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) found herself torn between the married Dr. Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), with whom she had a steamy tryst, and veterinarian Finn Dandridge (Chris O'Donnell). Which one will she pick?
If Rhimes was less than interesting in offering teasers for the new season, some cast members were eager to share what they think should happen.
"There's too much history with Addison (Kate Walsh), and they need to move on," Dempsey said. "It would be more interesting to explore a couple in the workplace than to go in the opposite direction. He should explore the relationship [with Meredith], but I don't know if he necessarily ends up with her."
Dempsey said he wants Shepherd to end it with Addison so that he can be with Meredith instead of just following her around like a puppy.
"I think it castrates him too much, " Dempsey said, standing in scrubs on the show's locker-
lined break-room set. "He needs to get his masculinity back."
That prompted an amusing response from Walsh, his TV wife, who brought up his hunky status as gauged by People magazine.
"Aw, boo hoo," she said. "The second sexiest man in America is feeling castrated."
But Walsh, too, is ready for a change.
"I think it's played itself out, and I'm looking forward to the exciting conclusion, " she said.
Meredith herself has less of an opinion on what should happen.
"You can't control things, " Pompeo said. "As long as I have a job, I'm happy. "
The "Grey's " set, located at The Prospect Studios near the Los Feliz neighborhood, came alive again this week as production began on season three. The show is nominated in 11 Emmy categories, including supporting actress nods for Sandra Oh, who plays Cristina Yang, and Chandra Wilson, the interns' boss, Dr. Miranda "The Nazi " Bailey.
"The thing I'm most pleased with is to be sharing the nomination spot with Chandra Wilson, " Oh said. "That was actually the thing I was most excited about. "
Wilson said she was surprised her character didn't yell at the interns more after Izzie's dangerous attempts to save Denny's life. That whole story made star Heigel uncomfortable.
"I was pretty horrified, " Heigel said. "I felt like I needed to stop her myself. This isn't just years of this internship, this is years of medical school, years of putting herself through college and throwing it away for a boy she hardly knew. But I think Izzie has a difficult time emotionally detaching herself from people. "
Heigel hopes the show will give Izzie time to heal while truthfully portraying the aftermath of the emotional loss of Denny.
"Grey's " certainly let poor George O'Malley (T.R. Knight) stew for weeks after his ill-advised bedding of Meredith (it ended with her in tears). Standing in the operating room, beneath the observation gallery, Knight rocked from foot to foot as he answered questions.
"He wasn't a gentleman about it ; he wasn't very honorable, " Knight said of George's "exceedingly human " reaction. "You saw an uglier side of him, which you hadn't really seen before. He was kind of petulant ; his ego was bruised. "
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rob Owen, the TV editor for the Post-Gazette, is attending the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles.
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