The drama isn’t just on screen! Author Lynette Rice recounted Grey’s Anatomy’s 16-year tenure with the cast and crew in her forthcoming book, How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, which is set for a Tuesday, September 21, publication date.
Rice’s unauthorized account (currently available for preorder) tells the “first inside story” of one of ABC’s most beloved medical dramas.
“Lynette Rice’s How to Save A Life takes a totally unauthorized deep dive into the show’s humble start while offering exclusive intel on the behind-the-scenes culture, the most heartbreaking departures and the more polarizing plotlines,” a summary from MacMillan Publishers read. “This exhaustively enthusiastic book is one that no Grey’s Anatomy fan should be without.”
The book — which features an illustrated version of the season 1 cast photo on the cover — was first announced in February. At the time, it was revealed that Entertainment Weekly’s editor-at-large conducted 80 new interviews with the series’ current and former cast, crew members and the musicians whose songs were featured on the show. Rice aimed to cover the drama’s first scripts, filming experiences and the most infamous scenes and characters.
“Grey’s Anatomy remains the most popular, zeitgeist-cracking show on TV, but what went down behind the scenes was just as fascinating and dramatic as what viewers saw each week,” Rice told the outlet at the time. “I can’t wait for fans to travel down memory lane with me and revisit some of the most mind-blowing moments on the show. I offer new insight on some of the show’s most controversial departures, and share fresh intel on why the show was so headline-prone in the early days.”
Before the oral history’s release, both The Hollywood Reporter and EW have published excerpts in September 2021 via their websites, sharing bombshells about the show’s journey from the drawing board to the top of broadcast charts.
“No one thought it was going to be a phenomenon at that point,” show writer Stacy McKee recalled in EW’s excerpt. “We were all just doing our part to make this little thing we all believed in, to give it the best chance of moving forward. It was new to everybody, including [creator] Shonda [Rhimes]. We all were just hoping and dreaming.”
In addition to reliving the show’s success stories and memorable guest stars, there is also an entire chapter devoted to the eventual departure of Patrick Dempsey, who was written out during season 11. Dempsey, after a well-known film career, portrayed Meredith Grey’s love interest, Derek Shepherd, for the first 11 seasons of the medical series. After a rocky start for MerDer, the pair eventually tied the knot before welcoming kids Zola, Bailey and Ellis together. Dempsey was absent for several episodes of season 11 after writers had his character relocate to Washington D.C. to spearhead a brain-mapping initiative for the White House. He eventually returned to his family and Seattle only to be killed off in a car crash in an April 2015 episode.
“It just sort of unfolded in a very organic way,” Dempsey said during his exit interview with Entertainment Weekly at the time. “I don’t remember the date. It was not in the fall. Maybe February or March. … It happened very quickly.”
He noted during the interview that “there wasn’t a lot of discussions,” but he wasn’t really surprised about his departure. “It was just a natural progression. And the way everything was unfolding in a very organic way, it was like, OK! This was obviously the right time. And then it was a question of. … That’s a question for Shonda.”
In How to Save A Life, Rice spoke with the crew about those final days with Dempsey and the rest of the crew.
“There were times where Ellen [Pompeo] was frustrated with Patrick and she would get angry that he wasn’t working as much,” producer Jeannine Renshaw remembered via the THR excerpt, published on Thursday, September 16. “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 a.m.’ He would go, ‘Oh, yeah.’ He would get it. It’s just that actors tend to see things from their own perspective. He’s like a kid.”
Keep scrolling for more of the biggest behind-the-scenes bombshells about Grey’s Anatomy: