Can Private Practice really continue without star Kate Walsh?

That's the question being pondered among ABC execs right now, as word is breaking that the show's leading lady may be opting to leave after 13 more episodes this fall. Fun fact: I'm also told this is something ABC has considered before.

So is Walsh really leaving? The show's ABC rep does not comment on contracts, however, inside sources reveal:

Walsh is planning to leave the show after shooting 13 more episodes for this fall, according to insiders. This comes on the heels of the news earlier this week that Tim Daly (Pete) would not return for the sixth season. The fate of the rest of the cast is not yet known, and an ABC source tells me that any reports of Kate Walsh leaving are speculatory and premature. Nothing has been finalized.

A network insider says it's "unlikely" the show would continue without Walsh, but adds that it's actually something ABC has discussed before. I'm told a few seasons back, Walsh asked for a pay bump, things got a bit heated, and the network said at that time that they would continue Private Practice without Walsh. You can probably tell by the fact that Dr. Addison Montgomery didn't turn into a hologram and/or another sexy starlet that Walsh decided to stay on. You are so smart like that.

Now, with Private Practice entering into its sixth year, it seems less likely ABC would continue without the show's leading lady, however it's still possible they could pull an Office-like maneuver, assuming the ratings don't go south.

Deadline first reported the news of Walsh's plans to exit.

Fans, what say you? Would you watch Private Practice without Kate Walsh? Are you hoping the show continues beyond season six?

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