Exclusive: Grey's Anatomy's Chyler Leigh Joins NBC Comedy Pilot Holding Patterns

Chyler Leigh Holding Patterns NBC Comedy PilotChyler Leigh has landed her first major TV gig since checking out of Grey’s Anatomy last May, scoring one of the lead roles in NBC’s comedy pilot Holding Patterns.

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From Office scribe Justin Spitzer, Holding Patterns is a multi-cam ensemble about a group of friends whose lives are altered after surviving a plane crash — ironic considering it was an air disaster that claimed the life of Leigh’s Grey’s character, Lexie.

Leigh will play Leah, the irresponsible, absent-minded, perpetually late slacker. Her life’s a mess and she lacks direction, but she’s not a loser; she’s intelligent, funny, and genuinely values her friends, even when sarcastically mocking them.

Rachel Kaplan (Do No Harm) and Peter Traugott (Samantha Who?) are also attached as EPs.

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63 Comments
  1. Jane says:

    She seems to have a thing for place crashes. Thankfully she survived this one.

  2. Brigitte says:

    Ironic since she totally bit the dust in the last show she was on in a plane crash. I hope it does well :)

  3. Doesn’t that seem…fitting? Given how she died in Grey’s, I mean. *laugh*

  4. Fida says:

    haha so she dies in a tragic plane crash only to survive it and star in a comedy about it? makes total sense

  5. Stuart Yael Gordon says:

    Pretty meta/ironic choice. I hope the pilot gets picked up. I still miss Lexie.

    • KathyNYC says:

      I will always miss Lexie..but I dunno. Starring in a show about surviving a plane crash – when she was just killed in plane crash in another show. That’s just too weird for me.

  6. Shiran says:

    “after surviving a plane crash” – oh the irony..

  7. Lindsey says:

    Will her character’s name be Lexi, and will it be an alternate universe? Either way, glad she will be back on TV.

  8. Chyler <3 I was hoping she'd join a procedural with a ten-year life-spam possibility, but I'm glad to see her back :)

  9. Sarah says:

    Holy ironic batman!!

  10. Stacy says:

    Is this real? She’s really joining a show about survivors of a plane crash? Ironic…

  11. I love Chyler, but this situation is so Katherine Heigl. Leaving your job after 5 years to spend more time with family only to return to work less than a year later? Once again, something is up in Shondaland.

    • Stuart Yael Gordon says:

      The lesson here should be well-learned by the cast. Never get more press than Shonda. Ever. I fear for poor Camilla Luddington, who made the error of appearing on Spoiler Report. Bye-bye Wilson.

    • Rob says:

      That’s not exactly a fair statement. Chyler did leave to spend more time with her family, but the schedule on a one-hour drama is insane and the hours are sometimes unpredictable. I might be inclined to agree with you if she signed on for another one-hour drama or even a single-cam comedy (those hours are also similarly insane) but a multi-cam comedy’s hours are FAR more flexible and palatable for someone who wants to spend time with her four kids.

      • Chyler and her husband have three kids – not four. However, it goes both ways. Whether you’re working an hour drama or a half-an-hour comedy, you’re still working long hours. Shooting TV movies or 2 films a year is fair enough, but she’s essentially jumping in to a whole new show with a whole new commitment for at least 5 years. I wish Chyler the best, I do, but I’m just not impressed with the timing.

        • Rob says:

          That’s not true, though. It’s a much more conducive environment for someone with a family. Grey’s is known for being quite amiable to people with children (as Shonda has two herself) but it’s a matter of spending time with her family. In this case, they film an episode on one afternoon and, yes, there are rehearsals and such, but it’s nowhere near as time-consuming as a one-hour drama. The timing is what it is, it’s a job and you can’t hold that against her. I genuinely don’t think there’s bad blood between Chyler and Shonda, that’s not what I got from any of the interviews with them. Heigl is a different story. But I promise, I know what I’m talking about when it comes to the time issue of one-hour vs. multi-cam sitcom.

          • In all fairness, majority of the cast on Grey’s have children and made time for them whilst appearing on the show. Chyler took out an extended summer hiatus last year to be with her family, so why not lighten your workload altogether? Whether she’s spending 8 hour days on set rather than 12, it’s still a TV series she’s joining therefore another commitment. This multi-cam comedy may be less time consuming, but the fact remains that she is still joining a TV series that will take up just as much time as Grey’s. Nonetheless, I was at least happy with Chyler sticking to her word about wanting to join comedy work.

          • anakinjmt says:

            Sorry but how is “less time consuming” and “just as much time as Grey’s” the same? Either this show is less time consuming or it takes up just as much time as Grey’s. Can’t have it both ways.

            I just imagine this is like the Lost Sideways world and the character secretly is Lexie.

          • taliesin says:

            When filming a 1 hour drama you can be on set 14 hours a day, several days a week. Most dramas take 8 to 10 days to shoot. A half-hour comedy is generally filmed in 1 day in 4-8 hours, with roughly a week’s worth of rehearsals; rehearsals that generally are only a few hours ever day.
            It might not seem like it but there’s a vast difference between filming a 30 minute comedy and a 1 hour drama.

      • Ali says:

        Wow, I just had to re-read as I had skipped over the “comedy” pilot part. Pretty heavy subject for the basis of a comedy but I’m interested in how they spin it. Guess the days of comedies being shows about nothing (Seinfeld) are over.

    • neil says:

      Heigl really isn’t working that much, though. At least not as much as she would have been if she had stayed on Grey’s Anatomy. She’s mostly taken smaller roles in ensemble movies (New Year’s Eve, The Big Wedding). If she had stayed on Grey’s she would be working a lot more than she needed too, considering that after all those romcoms she probably doesn’t even need to work.

      I’m happy to see Chyler Leigh working again, she was great on Grey’s.

      • kimski says:

        Heigl has been the lead actress in several movies, most recently One For The Money, based off of the series of books on Stephanie Plum, female detective. If the movie faired well they were planning on casting her in the whole series of movies based on the books. Heigl is doing very well and on top of that she and her husband have adopted 2 babies and she runs an animal rescue league also.

  12. shuayb says:

    Yup, was just gonna say, something must be up in Shondaland. How could she leave Grey’s to spend time with family only to move back to work? Altho a comedy is easier to work on so she could still spend more time with family.

  13. connie says:

    Jarrod. That is exactly what i thought when i read this. Wasnt that the tag line for her leaving. She wanted to spend more time with the kids. That lasted only a year. Now another series. Something has to be wrong in Shonda land.

    • I still remain confident that she (Chyler), Eric Dane and Kim Raver were all paid out of their contracts for budget reasons, seeing as Shonda herself confirmed it for Eric Dane. Not to mention, Kim has never done any talking about it – just Shonda – with Eric and Chyler’s departures both sounding extremely similar to Shondas.

      • dude says:

        Kim was let go because she wanted more screentime. I have to assume Chyler’s departure had to do with creative differences and wanting some time off. She was really getting underused in the end as just some puppy dog, following Mark around wherever he went.

  14. SylwekG says:

    I wouldn’t be too excited. I mean, it’s NBC’s comedy, so even if it get picked up, it will be cancelled after first season anyway.

  15. Ana says:

    I’m not going to get excited about this until it gets picked up. But it honestly doesn’t sound too strong of a premise. Actually kind of morbid for a sitcom.

  16. NM says:

    OMG!!! I am so happy she is finally back on TV. I have missed seeing her on screen. I think it’s hilarious she is going to be a plane crash survivor. What a way to give the finger to Shondaland!!

  17. davoor says:

    I don’t know, but I was kind of hoping she’d be cast as the mother in HIMYM… That would be just great

  18. dude says:

    LOVE her and want her to be the star of a show but this isn’t exactly a pilot with a ton of buzz. Hopefully it does well anyway.

  19. N says:

    I love Chyler! Happy for her!

  20. Elysa says:

    Happy for her! I love her and will definitely be tuning in.

  21. Brooke says:

    Are people really being negative about Chyler joining a new show? Trading in a 1 hour drama for a 30 minute comedy itself is a reduced workload. At this point she’s had a year off. Maybe she took the time she needed and is now wanting to work again with a lighter schedule. Why should it bother any of you?

    • taliesin says:

      Because the world can’t turn without hateful gossip or something to beeitch about. :)

    • Martoukian says:

      I still think of Chyler Leigh as the star of Not Another Teen Movie, especially the opening scene when she was using an appliance on herself when her family came into her room to wish her a happy birthday.

  22. Amanda says:

    She was my favorite Grey. Very happy to see her in a lead role instead of shoved in the background. Good for her!

  23. guest says:

    I find it very strange that many of the comments on this article seem to be blaming Chyler for coming back to TV after leaving Grey’s Anatomy to “spend more time with family”. While this certainly could have been true, I think there must be some pressure on Shonda to reduce costs and the budget on Grey’s Anatomy now that the show is becoming more expensive while the ratings continuously decline and the reducing the cast was one way to accomplish that. TV shows get more expensive as they get up in seasons with bigger contracts for the acting and producing talent. Now that Grey’s Anatomy is no longer such ratings juggernaut as it was several seasons back, and is even beginning to be passed in the ratings by Scandal, ABC must be putting at least some pressure on to reduce the cost of producing the show. While Chyler may have wanted to have a reduced schedule, or off the show entirely due to her diminished role, part of the decision may have been budgetary as well. Anyways, congrats to Chyler for getting a job on another show!

    • Martoukian says:

      Besides, it’s been months since she made the move–maybe her kids get on her nerves, or maybe she found out that there’s just not that much to do.

    • Luke says:

      Scandal has yet to pass Greys in the ratings. There was one occasion where they thought it had happened when Greys had a 2.7 and Scandal had a 2.8 in the 18-49 demo in the preliminary ratings. However, in the final ratings for that day, the situation was reversed. Greys had the 2.8 and Scandal had the 2.7. As for Greys rating, if you add the DVR + 7 ratings, Greys is in the top three in the 18-49 demo across all broadcast networks. It is still ABC’s number one drama.

  24. Katie says:

    so she left greys because she wanted to spend time with her family, and now she is another show, that´s just great.

  25. tiffany says:

    I am so happy for her. I really missed Chyler on tv. Especially missed her on Grey’s as Lexie. I’m still hoping and wishing Chyler and Dane will come back and do 2 episodes and the series finale of Grey’s. They have earned the right to be in these episodes. Come on Shonda.
    But I hope Chyler new show will be a success like The Cosby Show and Friends. And last a long time. But it’s on NBC. I Hope NBC can get their groove Back. <3 Chyler.

  26. JKR says:

    Well, maybe she did want to spend time with her family and did so until she could comfortably afford it. It’s been almost a year. Maybe she needs to get back to work to provide for them… or maybe they are different ages now and don’t need her as much?

  27. LaurenMC says:

    I actually find this obnoxious. She quit Grey’s Anatomy, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family, so fans had to suffer through the death of Lexie Grey… and now she’s joining a new show not even a year later? Annoying.

    • Coolio Jackson says:

      I don’t get while people feel like they have the need or the right to judge her. These are all her choices. I loved “Lexi” Chyler’s performance and I miss the character a lot…she brought a great deal of heart to Grey’s but stuff happens. People are acting like she should never work again because she chose to make a change. Get off your high horse and get over it. I wish her the best.

      • LaurenMC says:

        When did I say she should never work again? I am just saying it’s annoying that she quit Grey’s, disappointing fans of Lexie Grey who had to watch her get crushed by a jet engine, and then immediately took another TV job.

      • Ninna says:

        I think you didn’t quite understood. People aren’t judging her. People are reacting to the fact they were lied about it. By her, by Shonda with that big fat liar face, by everyone involved. They want loyal fans but don’t think necessary giving loyalty back to those who support the show. They don’t treat people with fairness. Yes, these are all her ‘choices’,such as the one in which she lied to us. Then, we also ‘choose’ to not like to be cheated on . Afterall, her SL was cutted abruptely bc of her/their ‘choice’.

    • Bob says:

      Lauren – It just means the REAL reason for leaving the show wasn’t about family time (hint, hint).

    • NM says:

      She claims she left for personal reasons. Yet, only gave one interview since and refused to talk about why she left the show. And, then she disappeared for almost 8 months. I believe there was drama behind the scenes. Too many things put to that.

  28. connie says:

    My earlier comment was not meant to diss Lexie. I was just curious about her comeback. But after reading a lot posts. And thinking about the fact that Shonda could have been cutting back as well. I love Chyler no matter what. I wish her success in this. Though i dont have faith in NBC. I just think there is more going on in Shondaland then meets the eye

    • NM says:

      I agree about the drama in Shondaland. Look how many actors and actresses have left that show. The actress who played Sadie Harris in season 5 said Shonda is great until she doesn’t need you anymore.

  29. Tommie Usry says:

    We didn’t want Lexi to die! duh. Don’t you get it? We liked her and wanted her to stay on the show! It was almost ok if she was going so she could spend more time with her kids, but to leave us and get another gig!!!!!! That hurts so we have to blow off steam!

    • NM says:

      I don’t think Chyler actually wanted to leave or have Lexie die. Lexie Grey was Shonda’s ugly step-child. She originally planned to have Lexie die at the hospital by hitting her head. She was supposed to die alone without Mark by her side. Lexie’s character was given no respect when she died. Shonda even went out of her way to say that Lexie’s body was eaten by animals!

      After the finale, we didn’t hear a word from Chyler for over two weeks. Kim Raver released a statement that night. But, two weeks later, we got a statement from Chyler stating she left for personal reasons. She gave one interview and the only way she agreed to that interview is if the reporter didn’t question why she left the show. Sorry, but I don’t buy it. I think Chyler’s fate was sealed from the moment she was asked by a reporter if she would be the Grey is Ellen Pompeo left (summer 2011) and she said yes.

  30. Bob says:

    Ughhh! Enough with the Pixie-cut hairstyle. Thank you, Ginnifer Goodwin. Grow your hair out!

    • NM says:

      I’m pretty sure she cut her hair to distance herself as much as possible from Grey’s and Lexie Grey. It’s not my favorite style, but she can pull it off.

  31. Lucy says:

    This background story sounds like a re-hash of “Reunion”, on which she also starred. Perhaps in a comedy (??) form it won’t get so lost in its own melodrama?

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