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James Pickens Jr. is a steady hand for 'Grey's Anatomy'

May 13, 2009 |  9:23 pm

'The Chief,' as is character is known, avoids the show's many off-camera soap operas.


Whether on screen or off camera, it's always seemed stormy at ABC's "Grey’s Anatomy." But amid the many swirling tempests around one of prime-time's most popular soap operas, James Pickens Jr., the deep-voiced actor who plays the authoritative Dr. Richard Webber, has consistently been a center of calm.

But earlier this year the 54-year-old Cleveland-born actor suddenly found himself a lightning rod for the show, which airs its season finale tonight. During a red carpet interview, he sparked a round of shock, denials and corrections when he said that cast members T.R. Knight and Katherine Heigl would be leaving the show by season's end.

"I didn't think anyone ever listened to me," Pickens said, laughing inside his North Hollywood loft. "All these people were coming up to me, saying 'You're the talk of the town.' I just couldn't believe that this became such a big deal."

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-- Greg Braxton

Photo: James Pickens Jr.. Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times