It\’s official: T.R. Knight exits \’Grey\’s Anatomy\’

Fall\’s still months away, but one of last season\’s bigger Grey\’s Anatomy cliffhangers has already been resolved: Sources confirm to me exclusively that T.R. Knight\’s wish to be released from his contract has been granted. The official decision, I\’m told, came down in the past few days, just as many of his castmates began receiving their formal pickup letters from ABC.

What does this news mean for George? What will Knight do next? And what about Izzie? Find out after the jump…

The actor\’s exit closes yet another rocky chapter for the embattled primetime soap, one that opened with Isaiahgate and worsened when, amid rumors that Knight was clashing with series creator Shonda Rhimes, George O\’Malley was backburnered. Finally, Knight grew so fed up with his character\’s lack of storyline that he asked if he could check out three years before his deal expired. After that, all indications were that he would be let go, although Rhimes didn\’t make a final decision until recently. (Contractually speaking, she had until June 30 to make up her mind.)

Last month, Rhimes told me that George\’s relatively light storyline this year was the result of the normal \”ebbs and flows\” of ensemble television. But she did acknowledge that he was intentionally written lighter during the last half of the season so that viewers wouldn\’t think it odd that he was absent from the season finale — something that was necessary to preserve the episode\’s biggest twist: that George was actually a disfigured John Doe who had been hit by a bus. \”I really wanted you to not notice that he wasn\’t there for most of this episode,\” she said. \”I don\’t think anybody noticed because of the way we laid it out this season.\”

Knight\’s departure would seem to confirm that George doesn\’t survive, although fans have wondered whether Rhimes is planning to pull an Elizabeth Reaser (Jane Doe/Rebecca) and have him live, only to be replaced by another actor, thanks to plastic surgeon Sloane\’s handiwork. That\’s \”hilarious, ridiculous,\” the boss has said. However, I\’ve heard that she was interested in having Knight appear in next season\’s first three episodes, but a short-term deal could not be brokered.

What will Knight do now? Per an insider, the theatrically-trained thesp is in talks to start 2010 by headlining a Broadway revival of Lend Me a Tenor, the classic farce he recently did a reading of with Alfred Molina, Tony Shalhoub, and Marian Seldes.

Reps for Knight and ABC declined to comment.

Now that the question of George\’s future seems to have been answered, another puzzler moves to the forefront: What\’s going to happen to Katherine Heigl\’s Izzie, whose life also hung in the balance in last May\’s capper? Stay tuned… In the meantime, proceed to the comments and weigh in on Knight\’s departure.

Source: EW?s The Ausiello Files

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