AceShowbiz - This is probably the biggest casting shakeup in "Grey's Anatomy" history. Two long-time cast members, Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew, depart from the ABC medical drama after the current fourteenth season, which wraps in May. Jessica and Sarah won't be returning to the long-running series for season 15.
Jessica, who has portrayed pediatric Dr. Arizona Robbins, has been on "Grey's Anatomy" for the past 10 seasons. Meanwhile, Sarah has played trauma surgeon Dr. April Kepner for the past nine seasons.
Deadline reports that ABC Studios, which formally picks up the option of each regular cast member at the start of each season, didn't pick their options. It is reported that Jessica and Sarah are the only series regular members who will depart from the show.
A source reveals that the decision is solely based on the show's future creative direction. Showrunner Krista Vernoff says in a statement, "The characters of Arizona and April are permanently woven into the fabric of 'Grey's Anatomy' thanks to the extraordinary work of Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew." She adds, "As writers, our job is to follow the stories where they want to go and sometimes that means saying goodbye to characters we love. It has been a joy and a privilege to work with these phenomenally talented actresses."
Shonda Rhimes echoes the remarks, saying, "It's always hard for me to say goodbye to any of my characters. Both Arizona Robbins and April Kepner are not only beloved but iconic--both the LBGTQ and devout Christian communities are underrepresented on TV. I will be forever grateful to both Jessica and Sarah for bringing these characters to life with such vibrant performance and for inspiring women around the globe. They will always be a part of our Shondaland family."
Previously, the site reported that Jessica and Sarah's departures had something to with co-star Ellen Pompeo's landmark new two-year contract with the show which makes her TV's highest paid actress. Ellen quickly shuts down the speculation, writing on her Twitter account, "Its unfortunate that @DEADLINE chooses to try to pit women against eachother on #InternationalWomensDay #shameonyounotme." The Meredith Grey depicter continues in a separate tweet, "I'm a big girl @DEADLINE can take shots at me if they want but to the fans please don't fall into that trap. This is above my pay grade."
I'm a big girl @DEADLINE can take shots at me if they want but to the fans please don't fall into that trap. This is above my pay grade— Ellen Pompeo (@EllenPompeo) March 8, 2018
Krista also releases an official statement about the rumors, saying that the casting shakeup having anything to do with "Ellen Pompeo's salary renegotiation is wrong and hurtful and misguided." The showrunner continues, "Ellen Pompeo has not only advocated passionately for her fellow cast members, she has taken the time to educate women worldwide as to how to advocate for themselves and that must not now be twisted. The decision to make changes to our cast was a creative one. The only thing as constant on 'Grey's Anatomy' as Ellen Pompeo is our penchant for reinvention."
"It is a part of our succes and what keeps the show exciting. We love these actresses and we love these characters and it felt true and right creatively to wrap up their stories. And that is the whole story," she concludes.