Ex-Grey's EP Reveals Backstage Drama Behind Derek's Death in Season 11: Patrick Dempsey and Shonda Rhimes 'Were at Each Other's Throats'

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Apparently, that car crash wasn’t really to blame for Derek’s death. In an excerpt from Lynette Rice’s How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy published Thursday by The Hollywood Reporter, former executive producer James D. Parriott reveals that behind the scenes, things had become so tense between Patrick Dempsey and series creator Shonda Rhimes by Season 11 that she “needed an OG to come in as sort of a showrunner for 14 episodes” to usher the actor off the canvas.

“There were HR issues” with Dempsey, Parriott continues. “It wasn’t sexual in any way. He sort of was terrorizing the set. Some cast members had all sorts of PTSD with him. He had this hold on the set where he knew he could stop production and scare people. The network and studio came down, and we had sessions with them.”

What was the leading man’s beef, exactly? “I think he was just done with the show,” Parriott says. “He didn’t like the inconvenience of coming in every day and working. He and Shonda were at each other’s throats.”

Things weren’t always hunky-dory between Dempsey and on-screen wife Ellen Pompeo, either. “There were times where Ellen was frustrated with Patrick, and she would get angry that he wasn’t working as much,” ex-EP Jeannine Renshaw. “She was very big on having things be fair. She just didn’t like that Patrick would complain that ‘I’m here too late’ or ‘I’ve been here too long’ when she had twice as many scenes in the episode as he did.


“When I brought it up to Patrick, I would say, ‘Look around you. These people have been here since 6:30 am.’ He would go, ‘Oh, yeah.’ He would get it,” she adds. “It’s just that actors tend to see things from their own perspective… He’s so high energy and would go, ‘What’s happening next?’ He literally goes out of his skin, sitting and waiting. He wants to be out driving his race car or doing something fun. He’s the kid in class who wants to go to recess.”

How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy hits bookstores and online retailers on Sept. 21.

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