The Emmy Race: Katherine Heigl Drops Out

Heigl: Not this year.
Heigl: Not this year. (Chris Weeks - AP)
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By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, June 12, 2008

In about a month, when nominations are announced for this year's Primetime Emmy Awards, last year's drama-series actress winner, Katherine Heigl of "Grey's Anatomy," won't be among them.

That's because she took herself out of contention this year, she told Mr. All Things Trophy Show, Tom O'Neil.

O'Neil, who wrote the definitive book on the Emmys, appropriately titled "The Emmys," and who writes for the Los Angeles Times', gets the ballots that list all the contenders for Primetime Emmy nominations. He noticed Heigl's name was missing. He investigated.

She responded via an intermediary with a statement: "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention."

No, she's not kidding. And yes, there is more:

"In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials," Heigl continued, turning the knife in the gullet of "Grey's" Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes. Apparently Heigl did not think much of that whole save-the-deer, save-the-world story line she was given at the start of the 2007-08 TV season.

Interestingly, Heigl was advised last year -- by her own manager/mother -- she "didn't have a shot in hell of winning," as Heigl made a point of telling the Primetime Emmy Awards audience when she picked up her trophy.

And yet, she went ahead and threw her hat into the ring. And we're thrilled she did, as her on-camera reaction to her win gave the FCC, Parents Television Council, et al., the unprecedented opportunity to mull whether it constitutes a fineable offense when an actor mouths -- but doesn't audibly say -- one of those naughty words that have caused this great country of ours to become the open cesspool it is.

This has replaced the old "if a tree falls in the woods but no one hears it, did it make a sound" debate:

If an actress sitting in the audience at a trophy show says "oh, [expletive]!" in shocked response to hearing her name called out as a winner because her own mother/manager had told her there was no way she was going to win, but her reaction is not heard by the viewing public and the camera was not see-the-pores close up, did it really happen and can the TV stations that aired it be slapped with tens of thousands of dollars' worth of fines?

We hear students in "The Future Is 'Lost': Economic, Social and Technological Impact of a Cult Phenomenon" classes have been known to take a break and debate the Katherine Heigl Weltanschauung on casual Fridays.

Anyway, back to Heigl, who has a history of being extremely, some might say insufferably, honest about how bad is the material that has catapulted her to stardom and $6 million-a-flick paychecks.

Last December she told Vanity Fair "it was hard for me to love" the movie "Knocked Up" (which the mag credits with hurling her onto the A-list, demonstrating a stupendous lack of understanding of the role of television in pop culture today. But that's another story). She called the flick "a little sexist," saying it "paints women as shrews, as humorless and uptight" and that she "had a hard time with it" because she was "playing such a bitch."

"Why is this how you're portraying women?" she rhetorically asked the movie's screenwriters/director/producers/studio in the Vanity Fair piece.

Apparently she did not read the script before she agreed to take the role.

Sadly, this would have been an easy year for Heigl to repeat her Emmy win.

First, for all its "integrity," the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences tends, once it has named some thespian the industry's best fill-in-the-blank, to get a death grip on that actor and not let go until the person is embarrassed enough to withdraw his name from contention. John Larroquette did so after winning the Emmy for sitcom supporting actor four times; Candice Bergen likewise removed herself from the running after winning the sitcom-actress nod five times.

And, we think, Heigl's being too hard on herself. Kidding. But seriously, hardly any actor was given fabulous material this season. There wasn't time to warm up to serious material -- this season hardly got going before it was mowed down by the writers' strike.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company