ABC Primetime: Who’s Leaving Now?

The past few days have given rise to what may be a major shift in ABC’s primetime lineup. 

Grey’s Anatomy stars Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight are rumored to be leaving that show while it has now surfaced that Desperate housewife Nicolette Sheridan is leaving Wisteria Lane.

Earlier this week, Grey’s co-star James Pickens Jr. told Us Weekly that Heigl and Knight were leaving but sources have said his comments were premature. The show has certainly had its share of backstage drama: Isaiah Washington‘s firing for ‘behavioral’ issues, the controversy over Brooke Smith‘s lesbian character being axed, Heigl refusing to put herself up for Emmy consideration due to a lack of strong stories…

Now, “the whole thing is in the hands of their agents and ABC’s lawyers,” an insider told EW‘s The Ausiello Files. “Something will probably be worked out soon, but it’s a safe bet that Katherine and T.R. won’t be returning as series regulars next season.”

Meanwhile, over on Wisteria Lane, the departure of Sheridan after five seasons is said to be a creative decision. Creator Marc Cherry wanted another game-changing incident this season and scripted the exit of Sherdian’s character Edie Britt, writes The Live Feed.

Adds TLF, the stakes are high for ABC. Grey’s and Housewives are the network’s top two dramas, and both have suffered some recent loss of viewership.

In further ABC news, although Balthazar Getty‘s departure from Brothers & Sisters has been rumored for several weeks, co-show runner Alison Schapker told the Los Angeles Times that the actor was just going to take some time off from the show “because we felt that character was really on a downward spiral and you see him really go on it.”

Speculation about Getty’s departure had intensified earlier yesterday when E! reported that Getty’s exit occurs in the 19th episode. But that is only partially true as his character merely leaves Los Angeles in that episode.

“Tommy is in no way permanently gone,” Schapker said. “This is just the logical end to this year’s story. What we’d like to do is bring him back next year in a different way.”

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