Katherine Heigl is retuning to TV on NBC's new fall drama State of Affairs — but she still can't escape her reputation as a showbiz diva.
At NBC's summer press tour today, a reporter asked Heigl directly about the many controversies that have surrounded the actress, including her abrupt departure from Grey's Anatomy in 2010 and comments she recently made to Marie Claire UK that her Hollywood career "suddenly turned on me."
Heigl seemed rather flustered by the question, taking a long pause before asking the reporter to repeat it. As he did, co-star Alfre Woodard leaned over to Heigl to whisper some advice, but Heigl still stammered through a long-winded defense of her behavior on set.
"I certainly don't see myself as being difficult," Heigl finally said. "I think it's important for everyone to conduct themselves professionally and kindly. If I ever disappointed someone, it was never intentional."
As for her past actions that may have "disappointed someone": Heigl blasted her 2007 film Knocked Up in the press for being "a little bit sexist" and painting its female characters as "shrews"; she withdrew her name from Emmy consideration for Grey's in 2008, saying she wasn't "given the material this season to warrant" a nomination, reportedly rankling the show's writers; and she reportedly didn't show up to set on Grey's in March 2010, leading to the end of her six-season run as Seattle Grace doctor Izzie Stevens.
On State of Affairs, Heigl plays a CIA analyst who delivers the daily national security briefing to the President (Woodard); her mother, Nancy Heigl, serves as an executive producer. That led to another awkward moment during today's panel, when a critic questioned Nancy about what exactly her role is on the show. (Actually, he pointedly asked, "Why are you here?") Katherine joked, "She bakes us cookies and pours us glasses of milk."
Actually, we're not entirely sure she was joking, since Nancy (who's Katherine's manager and was an executive producer on three of her recent films) didn't have much of an answer, saying she's "just learning about executive producing… It's been interesting. I'm a newcomer to it." She did add, though, that she's there in part to look after Katherine: "I am her mother, for sure, so of course I care about her interests."
Earlier, NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke described Nancy Heigl as "someone who has a strong opinion," but defended her role on the show, calling her "nothing but additive to the process" and "not disruptive in any way I can think of."
Get a sneak peek at Katherine Heigl's new NBC drama State of Affairs right here:
State of Affairs premieres Nov. 17 at 10 p.m. on NBC.