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Ellen Pompeo: My salary wasn’t the cause of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ cast departures

Ellen Pompeo of "Grey's Anatomy" makes an appearance

Ellen Pompeo of "Grey's Anatomy" makes an appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" on Thursday. Credit: Warner Bros. / Michael Rozman

“Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo on Thursday denied that the departures of co-stars Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew are related to her recent large raise.

“It’s absolutely not true,” Pompeo, 48, said on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” “I mean, I’m not involved in these kinds of decisions. However, there’s a few problems that you encounter doing a show for 14 seasons,” she noted of the ABC medical drama, in which she plays Dr. Meredith Grey. “And one of them is the writers have a really hard time creatively, y’know, thinking up new stories for all these characters. And I mean, I think we have 16 regular cast members. And it’s always sad when we lose people for whatever reason — whether they want to go or they don’t want to go, it doesn’t make it any easier.”

Series creator Shonda Rhimes and co-showrunner Krista Vernoff have both previously denied the connection between Pompeo’s raise and the cast departures.

Earlier this month, after a January story in The Hollywood Reporter said Pompeo will earn $20 million a year with bonuses and incentives, reported the departures of Capshaw and Drew at the end of this season. In response to online vitriol directed at Pompeo, Vernoff tweeted the same day, “The suggestion in the Deadline article that our cast changes are in any way related to Ellen Pompeo’s salary renegotiation is wrong and hurtful and misguided. It smacks of an old, broken, patriarchal notion that women must be pitted against each other and that one woman’s success will be costly to others. … The decision to make changes to our cast was a creative one.”

Pompeo had tried responding on social media, but her critics were not placated. She finally tweeted on March 11, “Please don’t accuse me of being disrespectful it doesn’t matter what I say nothing I say is ok so I won’t say anything at all anymore.”

She said on “Ellen” Thursday, “It’s important for us to not pit women against each other and to really dispel the notion that women are always victims. You don’t have to pit us against each other. We’re not enemies, we do lift each other up and support each other, and we’re not victims. We’re very strong and we’re capable of many, many things.”

Neither Capshaw nor Drew has posted on social media about Pompeo’s comments.

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