In her unauthorized book, Lynette Rice explores the stories behind several of the abc drama"s best moments, consisting of — in this to exclude, excerpt — the determinants that brought about McDreamy"s shocking death.

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In How to conserve a Life: The inside Story that Grey’s Anatomy, author Lynette Rice recounts the ABC medical drama’s eventful 16-year history, revealing brand-new details behind some of the show’s greatest departures.

Included in the unauthorized, 320-page oral background (St. Martin’s Press, Sept. 21, $29.99) is a chapter the offers new insight right into leading guy Patrick Dempsey’s shocking exit in season 11 the the Shonda Rhimes-created drama.

In the chapter, Rice speaks v Dempsey’s co-stars and also exec producers who were current during filming of his final days on Grey’s Anatomy, and reveals cases of “HR issues” that added to the fatality of his alter-ego, Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd.

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“There were HR issues. It wasn’t sexual in any kind of way. He sort of was terrorizing the set. Some cast members had actually all kinds of PTSD with him,” recalls exec producer James D. Parriott, who was brought earlier to the series to oversee Dempsey’s exit.



In more than 80 interviews through current and former cast- and also crewmembers, Rice, one editor-at-large in ~ Entertainment Weekly, additionally explores the show’s at an early stage days, recounts the reasoning behind some of its an ext polarizing storylines and offers exclude, details about the show’s behind-the-scenes culture.

“After 17 seasons, fans still can’t get enough of Grey’s Anatomy,” Rice tells THR. Yet what went under behind the scenes was just as dramatic together what viewers witnessed every Thursday. I’m excited because that fans to check out what ns learned around those beforehand days, in addition to what that was like to work for Shonda Rhimes, and why the drama was so freakin’ headline-prone.”

Below,The Hollywood Reporter shares an excerpt — the full eighth chapter — indigenous How to conserve a Life, and tune in Friday to TV’s peak 5 for an interview v Rice about her book and also the other huge reveals she uncovered in she reporting because that it.

(Reps because that ABC, alphabet Signature, Shondaland, and also Dempsey declined comment on the reveals in Rice’s book.)

“He’s really Dreamy, yet He’s not the Sun,” Or, exactly how Grey’s Anatomy loved — climate Learned come Live there is no — Patrick Dempsey

Ellen Pompeo may have played the titular role, however for numerous fans over numerous years, Patrick Dempsey to be the real attract to Grey’s Anatomy. Few of it had actually to execute with his celebrity: Dempsey to be the most well known member that the original cast at the moment of the pilot and brought through him rather a cult adhering to from his 1987 movie Can’t buy Me Love. However a most it was as result of the way Rhimes created her McDreamy and also how Dempsey illustrated him.

James D. Parriott I would say, “The guy would never say that,” and Shonda would certainly say, “He’s McDreamy. He’s the perfect man. He would say that.” I’d say, “Okay. It’s your show.”

Eric Buchman Shonda had a an extremely clear idea of how vital it to be to save Derek together this nearly idealized love interest, not simply for Meredith but for the audience. Naturally, the writers—especially authors who had been functioning on one-hour dramas because that a while—were like, “Well, maybe have McDreamy make a large mistake in surgery and also kill somebody. Or he creates an seeks of part kind. What is his deep, dark secret?” Shonda was really insistent: that’s no the personality we execute that with. Also when you uncover out he’s married, that was excellent in a really sympathetic way that retained him gift a hero. He was wronged by his spouse and in despite the of it every he was still gonna give his marriage a 2nd chance.

Stacy McKee Shonda to be protective the McDreamy, however it was really with an eye toward being safety of Meredith. Ns don’t think the two were different from one another. I don’t think she want to put something the end there that probably on the surface might seem a little frivolous. At its core, there to be something really an extensive that she wanted to say. She wanted to it is in very details about the form of connection values the she put out there.

Tony Phelan i was in modifying with Shonda once, and also it to be the scene where Meredith and also Derek had damaged up. He comes over and she’s like, “I can’t remember the critical time we kissed.” and also he says, “I remember. You to be wearing this and also you smelled the this …”

Joan Rater “Your shampoo smelled favor flowers, you had that pullover on …” He defined their critical kiss.

Tony Phelan typically in modifying you start on Derek, climate you reduced to Meredith for a reaction, and also then you’ll go earlier to him. I noticed that us weren’t ever cutting ago to Meredith. Ns asked why. Shonda said, “Because the mrs in Iowa who’s city hall this present wants to believe that Patrick is talk to her, and also if you cut ago to Meredith, it pushes them the end of it.” In those distinct moments, us would simply lock right into Derek and also let him perform his thing.

Joan Rater and also he was a master at it.

Patrick Dempsey He’s the appropriate man, and also that’s what Shonda constructed. There’s a projection ~ above me once you come in call with fans, absolutely with the younger and also older fans. There is a certain amount the expectation. Over there is a duty to it. The made me grow, too. There were good qualities that you work on to obtain.

Off camera, Dempsey to be equally together charismatic come his fellow actors, crew members, and also anyone that would pertained to visit the set.

Lauren Stamile i was walking in to meet him, and I remember I had actually this little cardigan sweater on and also I take it it off prior to I gained into the room. Dempsey is just one of those people—it’s virtually like there’s a light shining approximately his body, and you feel like you’re the only human in the room. I gained so hot and I remember saying, “Gosh, I would take turn off my pullover if I had actually one on due to the fact that I’m so hot, however I take it it off.” ns was simply babbling. The said, “You look at nice,” and also I said, “You look at nicer.” i felt so awkward and also he was so gracious and lovely. I was having actually a worried breakdown. It’s prefer this “it” factor. I was like, God, every little thing he has, i wish i had. I think the was an extremely obvious exactly how nervous i was, and also he went the end of his means to make sure he presented me to everybody and made certain I feel comfortable, i beg your pardon he definitely didn’t need to do. However he did.

Joan Rater the knew I had a huge crush on him, and he loved it. And when we’d go to table reads—I was an actress in ~ one suggest in mine life—they would always give me Meredith if Ellen wasn’t there. And I’d be acquiring my chicken tenders at handmade services prior to the table read and also he’d come increase behind me and also say, “Are you reading Meredith?” in mine ear, like, therefore sexy. I’d it is in like, five my God. I mean, I could barely … I might not look in ~ him.

Tina Majorino I functioned with Patrick a ton. I love him so much. We had a really good time working together. I think he’s together a an excellent actor and also he yes, really made me laugh a lot. Ns feel favor we had actually a good dynamic in scenes together, and also it was always fun come play the contrary him. Yes, he’s the charismatic in genuine life. Yes, his hair is the awesome. Yes, that is dreamy increase close.

Chandra Wilson Patrick Dempsey will forever be known as Grey’s Anatomy’s McDreamy. Derek Shepherd is a permanent part of television history.

Norman Leavitt he is a big, personable guy.

Jeannine Renshaw us all love Patrick. Patrick is a sweetheart. If I saw him ~ above the street, I’d offer him a hug. Ns love the guy.

Mark Wilding I’ve constantly had a soft spot for Patrick. He yes, really does shot to perform the best thing.

Brooke Smith, who played Dr. Erica Hahn, remembers just how Dempsey safeguarded her as soon as the decision to be made to fire she from the display in 2008.

Brooke Smith ns remember calling him and also saying, “Oh my God, they said they can’t create for me anymore, so ns guess I’m leaving.” and also he was like, “What are you talking about? You’re the just one they’re writing for.” i beg your pardon at that time, it sort of go feel the way. Yet I guess someone didn’t prefer that. They provided me a statement and also I never said it. Patrick claimed that he actually took it out of his jacket on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and read the statement. That won’t permit me forget it. He was like, “I safeguarded you, see?” and also it to be true.

By season eleven, however, fans witnessed a disturbing rest in MerDer’s once unbreakable bond. 6 episodes had gone by there is no a peep native Derek, who was supposedly in Washington, D.C., whereby he had apparently do out v a research study fellow. Fans began threatening to bolt if their hero didn’t return quickly to Seattle. “I have never missed one episode,” wrote a fan on Dempsey’s on facebook page. “But ns swear if kills you off I’m done.” however there to be a critical reason because that Derek’s weird absence: behind the scenes, there was speak of Dempsey’s diva-like fits and also tension in between him and Pompeo. To help manage the explosive situation, executive, management producer James D. Parriott was brought back in to offer as a really Dempsey whisperer.

Patrick Dempsey was the first year that i haven’t been in every episode. Ns in every episode due to the fact that the pilot— close to 250 episodes. That large run.

James D. Parriott Shonda needed an OG to come in as kind of a showrunner because that fourteen episodes. There to be HR issues. It wasn’t sex-related in any way. He sort of to be terrorizing the set. Some cast members had actually all kinds of PTSD with him. He had actually this host on the collection where he knew he can stop production and scare people. The network and also studio come down and also we had actually sessions through them. Ns think the was simply done with the show. The didn’t favor the inconvenience of coming in every day and working. He and Shonda were at each other’s throats.

Jeannine Renshaw There were times whereby Ellen to be frustrated through Patrick and also she would obtain angry the he wasn’t functioning as much. She to be very big on having things be fair. She just didn’t like that Patrick would certainly complain that “I’m here too late” or “I’ve been below too long” as soon as she had twice as plenty of scenes in the episode as he did. When I brought it as much as Patrick, I would say, “Look about you. These world have to be here due to the fact that six thirty a.m.” He would go, “Oh, yeah.” the would get it. It’s just that actors often tend to see points from their own perspective. He’s like a kid. He’s therefore high energy and would go, “What’s continue next?” the literally goes the end of his skin, sitting and waiting. He wants to be the end driving his race auto or doing something fun. He’s the child in course who wants to walk to recess.

Patrick Dempsey It’s ten months, fifteen hours a day. You never know your schedule, so your kid asks you, “What are you act on Monday?” and also you go, “I don’t know,” due to the fact that I don’t know my schedule. Doing the for eleven year is challenging. Yet you have to be grateful, because you’re well compensated, so girlfriend can’t yes, really complain because you don’t really have a right. You don’t have control over your schedule. So, you need to just it is in flexible.

Longtime Crew Member bad Patrick. I’m no defending his schtick. I choose him, yet he was the Lone Ranger. All of these actresses were obtaining all this power. All the rogue actresses would go running to Shonda and say, “Hey, Patrick’s doing this. Patrick’s late because that work. He’s a nightmare.” that was simply shut the end in the cold. His habits wasn’t the greatest, but he had actually nowhere come go. He was so miserable. He had no one to speak to. Once Sandra left, i remember him informing me, “I should’ve left then, however I stayed on because they verified me every this money. They just were dumping money ~ above me.”

Patrick Dempsey the difficult to speak no to that kind of money. Exactly how do you speak no come that? It’s impressive to it is in a functioning actor, and also then on optimal of that to be on a display that’s visible. And also then on optimal of the to be on a phenomenal present that’s known approximately the world, and also play a character who is beloved roughly the world. It’s very heady. It a lot come process, and not wanting to let that go, because you never understand whether friend will job-related again and also have success again.

Jeannine Renshaw A many the complain … ns think Shonda ultimately witnessed that herself, and also that to be the final straw. Shonda had to say come the network, “If the doesn’t go, i go.” Nobody want him to leave, due to the fact that he to be the show. Him and also Ellen. Patrick is a sweetheart. The messes friend up, this business.

James D. Parriott i vaguely remind something prefer that, yet I can’t it is in sure. It would have actually happened appropriate toward the end, due to the fact that I understand they were negotiating and negotiating, trying to number out what to do. We had actually three various scenarios that we actually had to break since we didn’t understand until i think around three days before he came earlier to set which one us were going to walk with. We didn’t understand if he was going to have the ability to negotiate his means out that it. We had actually a whole story line where we to be going to store him in Washington, D.C., therefore we might separate him from the rest of the show. He would not need to work v Ellen again. Then we had actually the one where he come back, doesn’t die, and also we figure out what Derek’s connection with Meredith would certainly be. Climate there to be the one us did. The was sort of crazy. We didn’t recognize if he was going to have the ability to negotiate his method out the it. It to be ultimately decided that just bringing him earlier was walk to be too difficult on the other actors. The studio simply said it was going come be much more trouble than it to be worth and decided to relocate on.

Stacy McKee i don’t think there to be any way to exit him there is no him dying. He and Meredith were such an incredibly bonded couple at the point. It would be completely out of character if he left his kids. There to be no exit that would certainly honor the character various other than if he were to die.

Patrick Dempsey ns don’t psychic the day . It was no in the fall. Probably February or March. That was simply a organic progression. And the method everything to be unfolding in a really organic way, it to be like, “Okay! This is obviously the appropriate time.” points happened an extremely quickly. Us were like, “Oh, this is where it’s going come go.”

So that was that: McDreamy would die in episode twenty-one the season eleven, even though Dempsey remained in year one of his recently signed two-year contract extension. Rhimes created a manuscript that to be befitting of she lead’s heroic persona: she started “How to save a Life” by having actually Derek witness a automobile crash and also helping the injured. Once it appeared everyone was the end of harm’s way, Derek proceeds on his road trip yet is suddenly broadsided by a truck.

Rob continuous (Director) The paramedics leave. He’s over there by himself. He’s having a moment. The nice music is playing, and every one of a sudden, bang. It comes out of nowhere, which, you know, is how mishaps happen. So as opposed come watching it as a viewer, we observed the accident happen through Derek’s perspective.

Derek end up at Dillard medical Center, a hospital far from Grey Sloan and also the talented doctors who job-related there. His eyes space open, but his mind is severely damaged. No one hears his plea for a CT scan; he can’t speak. To assist keep the illustration a secret, the scenes were shot in an abandoned hospital in Hawthorne, California, around twenty-two miles from the show’s home studio in Los Feliz.

Mimi Melgaard It to be really tough on all of us because it was so secretive and also we had so numerous different locations. Us shot in ~ this closed-down hospital that was for sure creepy haunted. All the scenes there were so sad anyway, and also in this yucky-feeling haunted hospital? that was really weird. His whole last illustration was really tough.

Patrick Dempsey It was like any other day. It was just one more workday. There was still too lot going on. You’re in the middle of it—you’re not really processing it.

Rob Hardy Here’s a guy who’s immobile. Currently you’re inside of his head. Us were trying to make that feel scary from the view of a human being who’s offered to gift in control, native a person who usually has actually the strength of life and also death in his very own hands. But now the doesn’t have actually the ability to speak ~ above his very own behalf.

Samantha Sloyan as soon as I saw audition, ns didn’t recognize any kind of of these doctors’ names. Ns assumed castle were simply dummy sides so human being wouldn’t destroy the story heat or anything prefer that. All we knew is that we were dealing with a guy who’s remained in a vehicle accident. I had actually no idea the it to be going to be Derek. I simply figured ns was going to be a guest doctor and that anyone this human being was who was injured, was going to be simply a character on the show. Once it came to be clear what us were functioning on, ns was like, Oh, mine gosh. I can’t believe this is the episode I’m on.

Mike McColl (Dr. Paul Castello) ns signed an NDA before they would certainly release the manuscript to me. Ns was reading it in mine house, and also I was like, “Oh, my God.” ns didn’t phone call anyone, consisting of my agents. I simply said, “This is a really good booking. It’s a an excellent role top top Grey’s.” and they didn’t understand anything till it aired.

Savannah Paige Rae (Winnie) The very first scene i shot was in reality the sentimental scene as soon as I’m saying, “It’s a beautiful work to save lives, right?” I’m in the hospital room through Derek and talking come him. Also though I never ever watched the show, I recognized the value of the illustration I to be in and just really took it to heart. It was so one-of-a-kind that I obtained to be a part of it.

Rob Hardy had a lot of emotions during the totality shoot, which evolved. I think once we first started, he was an extremely calm and cool … the exact same Patrick that i remembered when I functioned on the present a year or therefore before. V each pass day, he was a lot more emotional. A lot an ext was top top his mind, and also that would show itself in various ways. The finality that the episode and also for his character was setting in. You’ve become a an international icon ~ above this show and then in five, four, three, two, a job … it’s over.

James D. Parriott Patrick was very cooperative and good.

Mike McColl when I met Patrick, he’s lied on a stretcher and we’re rushing him into the ER. I just presented myself, shook his hand, and also was like, “Man, ns cannot tell you what an honor it is to it is in the guy to take it you down.” He loved it. He might not have been nicer to me and also was funny through the whole shoot. He was on the table in former of me there once I cut his chest open and also all the stuff. He provided me a hug at the end. It to be a genuine privilege to it is in a component of TV background in the way.

Samantha Sloyan i remember him being extremely kind. They had his neck in a brace, and he’s strapped down to the board, so there wasn’t a ton of chatting. Ns remember him being really kind, but it was plainly intense because that him.

Stacy McKee It to be such a beautiful item of storytelling. Ns knew this event was walking to be a yes, really sad, horrible occasion for Meredith, but I also knew it was going to it is in the start of together an tremendous chapter for Meredith.

Dempsey completed his last hours of shoot on a merganser night. There was no goodbye party, no goodbye cake. Perhaps that’s because some actors members were left the end of the loop. James Pickens, Jr., told abc News that the cast “didn’t know a totality lot. The was type of top top the fly. So every little thing information we got, we pretty much obtained it type of right prior to it happened.”

Caterina Scorsone (Dr. Amelia Shepherd) i didn’t acquire to say goodbye to Patrick once he left. I perform think that helped, since I’ve been making use of the character of Derek in my internal landscape due to the fact that Private Practice. Derek to be the stability in Amelia’s life. He ended up being a father figure after they watched robbers shoot your father. When he was suddenly gone indigenous the show, we didn’t have actually that closure, so I acquired to play it out. She’s around to use drugs again before Owen confronts she in a way that she finally talks about her feelings around losing Derek. She doesn’t end up using.

James D. Parriott The job he left, that was my critical day. There was a details sadness come it, yet I think he to be relieved. Ns mean, i think it take it a toll fee on him, too.

Rob Hardy i didn’t see various other actors showing up and saying, “Hey, it’s the last day! wanted to come and wish you well.” i didn’t obtain that. That was more the Patrick show. We were in the Patrick world, and then Ellen came, and there was certainly a many emotion that both the them had actually individually … not necessarily together. The was an ext so her being over there on the day that he died. He had his own way of being through that, and also the very same thing through her. It was favor two world who prospered up together and … right here we are. They had their own means of reflecting.

Patrick Dempsey I very quietly left. It was beautiful. It to be raining, i m sorry was really touching. I acquired in my Panamera, obtained in rush-hour traffic, and two hours later ns was home.

Big news like this doesn’t remain quiet because that long. Both Michael Ausiello—who left EW in 2010 come launch the news site TVLine—and Lesley Goldberg that The Hollywood Reporter learned two weeks before Dempsey’s final episode that he would certainly be leaving the show. No reporter worth your salt wants to sit ~ above a scoop—least of all one as huge as this—but Ausiello and Goldberg didn’t desire to spoil the outcome for fans, therefore they agreed to host the story until after the illustration aired. I eventually found out, too, however in the nuttiest way imaginable: i was stand on the collection of CSI: Cyber, watching Patricia Arquette talk about some droll techno-criminal. Unfortunately, the publicist also cc’d Dempsey’s manager and ABC publicist when trying to offer me a significant story, so i couldn’t automatically report the scoop. However I did use the details to efficiently negotiate the one and only exit interview v Dempsey. 2 weeks before his last episode, i met him and his publicist at Feed human body & spirit in Venice, California, for a story that would hit newsstands top top April 24. He appeared a little shell-shocked and also at one suggest choked up, yet at the time he stated nothing about how his on-set habits may have contributed to his ouster. Mine editor, Henry Goldblatt, want to placed him on the covering of entertain Weekly, but he couldn’t insurance to alphabet that no one would check out it before the episode aired. Good thing we didn’t: part subscribers got the worry on the morning that Dempsey’s final episode— and also one in reality tweeted the story. Our PR room tried to get the tweets removed, yet the cat was out of the bag: some fans discovered out early that McDreamy was around to it is in McHistory. Outlets like variety reported exactly how the story obtained out early, while ours PR department released this statement: “We room surprised the an EW subscriber may have received their issue a day earlier than planned. We always try our finest to bring readers exclude, news first. We would choose to to apologize to pan of the present that learned the news ahead of time.” Dempsey’s last episode was watched by 8.83 million viewers—the show’s biggest audience since the premiere that season. Selection even pontificated even if it is the ratings an increase was due to my exclusive with Dempsey.

Lesley Goldberg (The Hollywood Reporter) I’m used to working through networks to organize news as component of their efforts to guard versus plot spoilers. Yet the way Patrick Dempsey’s exit was handled associated a class of paranoia and also secrecy that has been uneven anything I’ve viewed in my reporting career. News that he to be leaving, and his character being killed off, would have been a major story considering how large the present is domestically and internationally. However, it likewise would have meant spoiling the episode and, much more important, damaging key relationships I’ve worked hard come build. At some point, publishing the news of Dempsey’s exit before the episode aired ended up being an ethical question the what was much more important—a huge story and also its succeeding traffic, i beg your pardon would have come no issue what, or the relationships and trust the it took years to craft. Ultimately, i still released early due to the fact that EW subscribers obtained the issue with Lynette’s Dempsey interview before the episode aired.

Mike McColl The morning after Derek’s last illustration aired, my daughter sent out me a attach that was on YouTube or facebook or something. I in reality pulled it as much as look in ~ it, and also it was a Grey’s Anatomy showbiz cheat sheet. That asked the question “Who is the attending physician who killed Derek ‘McDreamy’ Shepherd?” It had a picture that i posted from the set. I had on a bloody rubber glove and also was in mine scrubs and mask. I never obviously would have actually posted this before it aired. Ns posted it fine after the episode aired, and also I “McDeadly.” This writer said something like, “Kill McDeadly.” maybe that’s why the producer didn’t choose a big-name actor to it is in the one who killed our lovely McDreamy! I want to it is in ultrasensitive to these hard-core fans since it method so lot to them, and I definitely didn’t mean in that situation to do light the it. It’s just, I’m an actor, and also I recognize it for what that is. Is everybody clean on the fact that this is just pretend and Patrick knew he to be going to be leaving the show? that was just like, “God. He’s okay. He really is okay.”

Peter Horton Derek to be going to be over there forever with Meredith since you went through a whole journey with them. That was extremely fulfilling. So even if he’s not there, he’s there. Ns don’t think any of us really worried about that walking away due to the fact that by climate you were so invest in it. The show can last as it has for years.

Patrick Dempsey too many of human being . “It’s an excellent to watch you alive” is the comment ns get. I’m like, “Yes, I’m an extremely much alive in reruns.” people were yes, really invested in the relationship. Ns knew it would certainly be heavy. Really happy to have moved on through a various chapter in my life.

Samantha Sloyan The montage just killed me, once Meredith says, “It’s okay, you have the right to go.” God, I’m acquiring choked up just thinking around it. The chemistry they have actually as a pair and the method they to be able to build that and sustain it! So numerous of these relationship are, like, “Will they, won’t they,” and then that wears thin. They sustained it because that the term of their relationship on the show, and it’s just, i think, a testament to what those 2 created. It was just unbelievable.

Pompeo handle Dempsey’s exit with a tweet the focused exclusively on his character, no on how she invested eleven years functioning side through side through him: “There are so many people out there who have actually suffered significant loss and also tragedy. Husbands and wives of soldiers, victims of senseless violence, and also parents who have lost children. Civilization who get up every day and do what feels favor is the impossible. So that is because that these people and also in the spirit of resilance i am honored and excited come tell the story of how Meredith goes on in the challenge of what feels favor the impossible.” Meanwhile, fans futilely created a petition come reinstate McDempsey, if other, much more desperate ones simply tweeted “We hate You” to Rhimes.

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Shonda Rhimes Derek Shepherd is and also will always be one incredibly necessary character—for Meredith, because that me, and for the fans. I absolutely never ever imagined saying goodbye to our McDreamy. Patrick Dempsey’s performance shaped Derek in a method that I know we both hope came to be a systematic example— happy, sad, romantic, painful, and constantly true—of what young ladies should demand from modern-day love. His loss will certainly be feeling by all.

Talk about the mother (father?) of every postscripts: In November that 2020 Dempsey reprised his duty as McDreamy in the season opener—but only in Meredith’s dreams. Stricken with COVID-19, an unconscious Meredith “imagined” reuniting with her husband top top the beach. After talking solely to Deadline and saying exactly how it to be “really a really healing process, and also really rewarding,” Dempsey would return for much more beach-based episodes that would ultimately stand out as the finest moments the season seventeen. “It to be a second chance thing,” one alphabet executive called me at the time. “Shonda likes a comeback. Also, they wanted him in your last season.”