After winning an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2007 for her role in Grey’s Anatomy, Katherine Heigl was abruptly out of the show, thanks to a professional reputation of being “difficult.” She was eventually relegated to the likes of hacky B-movie comedies, the USA network, and kitty litter commercials. One of the things that made Katherine Heigl “difficult” was that she talked shit about Grey’s like how the writing wasn’t worthy of her submitting herself for an Emmy and the long work hours. Well, right at this very minute, there’s currently a potential strike on the horizon organized by members of IATSE, the union representing entertainment industry crew members. IATSE is trying to negotiate a new deal that would create safer, healthier work environments. And guess what, one of the major complaints from IATSE members is the unreasonably long hours they’re expected to work on set. Now Katherine is coming forward like, “A-HA! Turns out I wasn’t such a demanding difficult bitch now, was I??”
Here’s Katherine Heigl on The Late Show with David Letterman in July 2009, talking about working on Grey’s. David Letterman noted that filming on the sixth season had recently begun, to which she said:
“I’m going to keep saying this, because I hope it embarrasses them. [It was] a seventeen hour day, which I think is cruel, and mean.”
The awkwardness begins at the 1-minute mark below:
Seventeen hours is actually insane. That’s like showing up for work at 7 am and dragging your exhausted ass to your car at midnight. Full disclosure, I have worked a day that long, and it was on a television shoot. And yes, I fell asleep on the streetcar on the way back home, missed my stop twice from two different directions. IATSE has been bringing up stories similar to that as an example of how dangerous it is to overwork crew members. IATSE is seeking new rules for television and film sets to address “excessively unsafe and harmful working hours,” as well as reportedly unlivable wages, reasonable rest breaks, and proper compensation for those working on projects created exclusively by streaming services (some streaming services have claimed their total subscriber count is low, and therefore have justified paying crew at a decreased rate than, let’s say, a network series might compensate their crew members).
So no one should be surprised that Katherine is endorsing a potential IATSE strike. In an Instagram post, Katherine managed to make the situation a little about HER by going on about all the shit she took for calling out long hours. But she’s not wrong in saying she got dumped on for speaking up. Less than a year after she dragged Grey’s Anatomy for those too-long workdays and called out the writer’s room for not giving her more to work with, she decided to “leave” the show. A few years after that, Shonda Rhimes explained that she runs her shows with a “No assholes” policy.
As you can see, Katherine wanted to continue this in the comments, but it wasn’t so she could whine about how she wishes IATSE had been there for her on the set of Grey’s Anatomy to step in and prevent her from getting that brassy dye job in season two. She turned the conversation back onto IATSE crew members. Uh oh, someone is going to get a sternly-worded email from a laptop located in Shondaland. via BuzzFeed:
“We are making entertainment. We are not solving world hunger or curing cancer. We are telling stories. When production plows into hour 14 and beyond they are asking our crews to drive themselves home bone tired. The number of people who have fallen asleep at the wheel is staggering. The number of accidents that happen on set due to exhaustion are shocking. Illness both mental and physical is off the charts. There is nothing glamorous or sexy about working past the point of exhaustion.
When I first spoke up I was speaking on behalf of myself and my crew on Grey’s. Today things are a little different for me. I am in the fortunate position of being able to say no. To turn down a job if it requires more then I can bear. And in all honesty. I’ve kind of aged out of giving a shit if I piss people off by creating boundaries that protect my health, sanity and work. So this post is not for me. It is for the crew. It is for my family from another mother. It is for the champions and support systems and talented bad asses that I have the privilege of working with. I stand with IATSE. It is time for reasonable and fair work conditions, wages and hours to be more then just a priority they need to be the norm. Period. To all the crews on all the sets all over this great big world of ours. I support you. I stand with you. I thank you. Not one show. Not one movie. Can exist without you.”
What weird wormhole did our universe accidentally slip into that has given us a timeline that involves Katherine Heigl getting the redemption edit? What’s next? Patrick Dempsey successfully overturning his reputation as a difficult diva on the set of Grey’s Anatomy? Actually, that one could happen. According to Ellen Pompeo, Patrick often complained about long work hours and having to come in every single day. Patrick himself has said that while he was on Grey’s Anatomy, he worked “ten months, fifteen hours a day.” Although to be fair, I’m pretty sure one of the things IATSE isn’t fighting for is the right to collect a fat paycheck while being a total dick to your boss.