Sunday, January 16, 2000

Clooney won't be upset if he doesn't return to 'ER'

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PASADENA, Calif. — George Clooney won't have any hard feelings if his Dr. Doug Ross character isn't invited back to ER before Nurse Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) exits the series in May.

        “These are nice friends of mine on that show, and I don't want to detract from what they do,” says Mr. Clooney, who left TV's top-rated drama after five seasons in February.

        “They may not want me to come back. Even though that's what the audience wants, it may not be what the show (producers) want. They've sort of moved on” past the Ross-Hathaway romance, by adding a half-dozen new characters.

        Mr. Clooney had offered to come back to the show, if his schedule permitted and if he liked the story line. He has not been asked to return this season, he says.

        “It would depend on what we were going to do. I don't know that it's necessarily smart for me to come back for one scene, and scoop Juliana up, and walk out. I don't know if that works. We'll see. We'll talk to them.”

        John Wells, ER executive producer, confirms that there have been no recent conversations with Mr. Clooney.

        “We have not discussed it. We have not ruled it out,” he says.

        And if producers invite Mr. Clooney back, they want to keep it secret for as long as possible. “We wouldn't tell you,” he bluntly tells TV critics.

        Ms. Margulies reportedly turned down a three-year, $27-million contract last year to pursue other roles. Producers have been planning her departure for more than a year, making Nurse Hathaway pregnant last spring and having her deliver twins in November.

        Mr. Wells refuses to say exactly how or when she will leave County General Hospital. (Mr. Clooney departed in February sweeps, instead of sticking through the May season finale.)

        When pressed, all Mr. Wells will say is that Ms. Margulies will exit “sometime later this season. We're just not gonna tell you.”

        Mr. Clooney says he has no pangs about leaving when his original five-year contract expired last year.

        “I don't have any regrets about not trying to keep re-inventing the character,” he says. “I was kind of running out of stuff. I'm sort of a limited actor, so it's probably best that I got out when I did.

        “I certainly miss of all of those people ... It was the best time of my life, and the best thing in the world for my career, so I have nothing bad to say about the show.”


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