It's true. Sources confirm that Brooke Smith, who plays Dr. Erica Hahn (a doctor who recently realized she is gay), has been axed from Grey's Anatomy.
Executive producer Shonda Rhimes has issued a statement tonight about her dismissal (see below).
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."
Melissa plays Meredith's (Ellen Pompeo) best friend and a new intern at Seattle Grace.
Grey's has included a prominent bisexual/lesbian storyline this season in the blossoming (and complex) relationship between Hahn (Smith) and Callie (Ramirez). I'm told that storyline will end in this Thursday's episode, which will be Smith's last appearance on the series.
"They don't really give her a goodbye," an ABC source tells me. "It ends rather abruptly."
Update: Executive producer Shonda Rhimes issued the following statement tonight:
"Brooke Smith was obviously not fired for playing a lesbian. Clearly it's not an issue as we have a lesbian character on the show—Calliope Torres. Sara Ramirez is an incredible comedic and dramatic actress and we wanted to be able to play up her magic. Unfortunately, we did not find that the magic and chemistry with Brooke's character would sustain in the long run. The impact of the Callie/Erica relationship will be felt and played out in a story for Callie. I believe it belittles the relationship to simply replace Erica with 'another lesbian.' If you'll remember, Cristina mourned the loss of Burke for a full season."
E.W.'s Michael Ausiello first broke the news of Brooke's dismissal today. "I was very excited when they told me that Erica and Callie were going to have this relationship," Brooke told E.W. "And I really hoped we were going to show what happens when two women fall in love and that they were going to treat it like any heterosexual couple on TV. And so I was surprised and disappointed when they just suddenly told me that they couldn't write for my character any more."
ABC also demoted Rebecca Romijn—who plays transgender Alexis Meade—from a series regular to recurring status on Ugly Betty at the end of last season. Could this be a new trend with the network, or is it a solely creative decision that we should try to understand?