The show must go on. That is the mindset Shonda Rhimes is holding firm to as she plans out Private Practice Season 6, which after 13 episodes will bid adieu to original cast member Kate Walsh and the character of Addison.
Visiting the ABC drama’s set on the occasion of its 100th episode, TVLine presented Rhimes with what ABC boss Paul Lee told us last month, that ideas are being bandied about to keep the doors of Seaside Wellness open beyond Walsh’s departure.
“I get asked by the network specifically to not think of this as the last 13 episodes of the show,” Rhimes responded. “I’ve said this before: I want us to keep going. We have great creative ideas that we’re excited about and we want to push forward with.”
As Rhimes noted, “This is such a great group of people…. The actors are so talented, the crew is so amazing…. We all want to stay together if we’re telling great stories and we’re doing it well.”
Walsh herself echoed that sentiment, believing whole-heartedly that Private Practice should and will thrive even in her absence.
“Absolutely! The show is so solid — the writing, the characters, the stories. It’s got a huge, huge foundation and roots,” she told us. “So yeah, I could absolutely see it going on.”
But what story will usher Addison — who in the Season 5 finale dove into her new role as mom and fielded a marriage proposal from off-and-on sweetheart Sam — off the canvas when the time comes? Rhimes said that while she is stilling mulling ideas for Walsh’s exit story (“I change what that is almost weekly in my head”), she seems to know one thing for certain.
“The character deserves a happy ending,” she asserted. “We’ve watched Addison from the beginning. She started out as one of the most hated characters on Grey’s Anatomy and has grown to be this person that we really love. That character’s journey, I think, deserves a happy ending.”
In the meantime, Walsh is electing to just sit back and enjoy this final ride with the character she created more than seven years ago, on Grey’s.
“I am honestly just trying to stay totally present and enjoy every second,” she said. “It’s been a profound experience… like a really good dream. I have no idea what’s going to come next, but I’m really excited about it.” (Reporting by Vlada Gelman)