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Shonda Rhimes confirms T.R. Knight's exit from 'Grey's Anatomy'*

June 19, 2009 |  8:18 am

Tr Earlier this week, Entertainment Weekly reported that the rumors were true: T.R. Knight would be leaving "Grey's Anatomy." But ABC and representatives of the actor would not confirm that Knight was in fact leaving.

This morning, however, ABC e-mailed a statement from the show's creator and executive producer, Shonda Rhimes, that says yes, Knight is no longer with the show, which will enter its sixth season this fall:

“I think I speak for the entire Grey’s Anatomy family when I say we wish T.R. Knight the best in his future endeavors. 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 "Grey's" cast became breakout stars -- if not overnight ones -- when the show became a smash 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." At the time, Knight had not yet come out publicly as gay, but he did so shortly after that widely publicized incident. 

Knight and Katherine Heigl, his close friend who plays Izzie Stevens, were unhappy that Washington was allowed to remain on "Grey's" for the rest of the season, particularly after the actor repeated the slur in front of press backstage after the show won a Golden Globe for best drama. (In June 2007, Washington was let go.)

For the past year, the scandal-prone show has been beset by rumors that both Heigl and Knight wanted to leave for good. And in February, James Pickens Jr. ("The Chief") further fueled speculation when he told Us Weekly that both actors would indeed go.

The "Grey's season finale in May paved the way for a double death, albeit by very different means. The Izzie character had been suffering from cancer for most of the season, and it appeared to have gotten the best of her. George, meanwhile, had been run over in the street, injured so badly he was an unrecognizable patient to his close 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 that could be further buoyed by the forthcoming "The Ugly Truth," will return to "Grey's" next season, the final one in her contract.

Through Kelly Bush, his PR person, Knight issued the following statement:

"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.  I continue to wish them the very best, and wholeheartedly thank all of the fans who have supported me and the show with such passion and enthusiasm."

[UPDATE] And now we know what he'll be doing next. Our sister blog Culture Monster has learned that Knight will star in a revival of the 1998 musical “Parade” at the Mark Taper Forum in downtown L.A. Previews start Sept. 24. Read the full story here.

-- Kate Aurthur

Photo credit: Associated Press

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