Why is the Web so full of Katherine Heigl haters?
Maybe you've been too busy following the California budget crisis or the healthcare reform debate in Washington to have noticed that "Grey's Anatomy's" Katherine Heigl has been pilloried all across the Web during the last week.
The hating got into full swing after she showed up on David Letterman to promote her dreadful new movie "The Ugly Truth" and managed to come across like a true dilettante, complaining that she'd returned to her TV show only to be forced to put in a horrific, sweatshop-style 17-hour day. As she put it: "Our first day back was Wednesday and it was -- I'm going to keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses them -- a 17-hour day, which I think is cruel and mean."
OK, while some of you may be thinking "I'd be happy to put in 17 hours for the weekly salary Heigl is pulling down," I confess that I was a teeny bit sympathetic to her position, figuring that 17 hours is a pretty steep workload, even if a bunch of those hours are spent in a cozy, air-conditioned trailer.
But just as I was building up some Obama-style empathy for Heigl's plight, I came across a blog post from Ken Levine, the Emmy-winning TV writer-producer who's worked on oodles of TV shows, from "Cheers" to "Everybody Loves Raymond" to "Dharma & Greg," and who was -- shall we say -- supremely unsympathetic to Heigl's position, apparently having done a little digging into the real reason why she got stuck with a 17-hour workday. As Levine writes:
Poor Katherine Heigl. What she neglected to add was this: This "cruel" shooting schedule was only to accommodate HER and her needs. The producers graciously shuffled things around so she could go off and do promotion for her new film. Also, with union rules, the producers had to pay a ton of overtime and penalties to make this happen. The thanks they get is Katherine Heigl going on national television hoping to embarrass them.
This is an extreme case of chutzpah, but it's not uncommon that when shows become big hits cast members become much in demand. They're offered movie parts, plays, free cruises, you name it. All of a sudden, the show that launched their success is now sort of an imposition. [...] So producers are put in the sticky position of either denying them these outside projects or moving heaven and earth to accommodate them -- as if it's easy to complete principal photography on a normal schedule. (This is of course irrelevant to Katherine the Ingrate who only thinks of herself).
Levine goes on to detail the unhappy Hobson's choice that TV showrunners often have to make to keep their star talent happy, an especially difficult task when, as he puts it, "if you say 'No' your actor sulks and becomes a huge pain in the ass. If you say 'yes' you inconvenience 200 people who are already hopelessly overworked and behind schedule anyway." Maybe the next time Heigl goes on Letterman, she could bring along a couple of key grips from her show and persuade Letterman to let them read the Top Ten list or sit in with the band. Or maybe she could just spend a few minutes of airtime begging their forgiveness. It would be a good way for her to climb out of the deep hole she's dug for herself.
You can watch Heigl digging that hole right here:
Photo: Katherine Heigl in "The Ugly Truth." Credit: Saeed Adyani / Columbia Pictures