It's rare to witness an actual, unrehearsed, honest-to-gosh spit take these days. Those in attendance Tuesday night at the Museum of Television and Radio's annual Paley Festival did, though, thanks to "Grey's Anatomy" stars James Pickens Jr. and T.R. Knight.
Onstage before a packed and adoring house -- where, it should be noted, the screams for Knight were almost as loud as those for Patrick "Dr. McDreamy" Dempsey -- members of the ABC hit's cast were describing how they landed their parts. Knight, whose previous TV credits were rather limited, described how he loved the fact that his character, lovelorn surgical intern George O'Malley, was more than just "a doofus" in the pilot, and how his agent fought to get him in the room with the show's producers, and how grateful he was for that.
Up next was Pickens, seated to Knight's right. He began with a deadpan, "Well, I was his agent at the time ..." -- causing Knight to expel the water in his mouth and earning big laughs from the crowd.
Pickens, in fact, got in several of the best quips during a loose, easygoing session that featured all of the show's regulars, creator Shonda Rhimes and several writers and producers. The TV veteran ("The X-Files," "Roseanne," "The Lyon's Den") described his character, surgical chief Dr. Richard Webber, as "Cliff Huxtable trapped in Bizarro World."
More seriously, he notes that Webber "is very human, and utterly resilient in not letting his humanity affect him as a surgeon. He may be the best character I've ever played."
During a round of how-are-you-like-your-character questions, Ellen Pompeo, whose Meredith Grey is caught up in a love triangle with Dempsey's Dr. Derek Shepherd and his wife, Addison (Kate Walsh), had this startling revelation: "I've never said this in public, but I do have a crush on him," she said, nodding toward Dempsey.
Dempsey (who's married), reciprocated, drawing a big "Aww" from the crowd. Underneath that, Walsh added, "I've got a crush on both of you. Maybe we can party."
Post-spit take, Knight stole the show once again with a story illustrating what he shares with George. He talked about meeting actor J.K. Simmons at January's Screen Actors Guild Awards and telling the "Oz" and "Law & Order" veteran how much he admired Simmons' work.
The next day, Knight was driving a rented U-Haul to pick up a dining-room table -- "because I'm grown up, and I bought a dining-room table" -- when he clipped the awning of a Benito's Tacos stand, sending it crashing down on the hood of the truck. He swears that none other than J.K. Simmons was on hand to witness the accident.
"So," Simmons asked him, "I guess there's not much separation between you and George, huh?"Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun