The End of the World As I Know It

December17

Private Practice wrapped last Friday.  We knew it was coming, knew for a couple of months, which is rare.  The way these things go, we often don’t.  With Judging Amy we didn’t know.  We found out during hiatus, when the networks put together their season, and had to accept the verdict even as our team was disbanded.

It is a privilege to know. Shonda Rhimes, our creator and executive producer, had time to tell her story and end it how she saw fit.  There was a myriad of feelings in the cast and crew as we approached December 7 (I guess a day that will live in infamy for another reason…) Some folks were scared, some nervous, some excited at the new opportunities to come.  Most were nostalgic and all of us, to the one, were bathed in gratitude.

Last Days of Private Practice

"Bye, bye." Photo, Twitter @TheAmyBrenneman

A television series is a unique artistic endeavor.  A movie begins and then ends when the script does. There is a finite amount of days to the experience, and everyone knows the end date on day one.  There are Broadway plays that run for years, not knowing the end date.  But in that case the same story is told and re-told hundreds of times, with variations due to audiences and circumstances, but the story remaining the same.

A TV series is quite literally a living thing.  We get to respond to current events.  We get to know hidden talents of our cast and crew.  Jillian Armanente, who played Donna in Judging Amy for five seasons, was brought in for one show.  Donna was never supposed to be a part of the ensemble, but after meeting Jillian and her audacious gifts, we all thought, how can she not be?  We had the freedom to write her into the fabric of the show.  On Private Practice I watched KaDee Strickland play a storyline where her character was raped.  Not only was she brilliant in the execution, but I watched my friend’s social justice consciousness become awakened around the issue of rape, and now she is a powerful advocate, testifying on Capital Hill.  We open our hearts to character and story, that’s what we actors do, and in the process we ourselves are transformed.

But the best part of a long running TV series is getting to live life, over time, with my artistic cohorts and friends.  Many, MANY families grew during Private Practice –Taye’s son Walker, Paul’s daughter Josephine, Catherina’s daughter Eliza and Shonda’s daughter Emerson just to name a few.  Friends and family members passed away during the last six years, countless hugs on the set reflecting our collective concern.  Folks got married, divorced, and reconciled.  Other folks got sick and got better.

We all have our ways of dealing with endings.  Last week I found myself alternately snuggling into my cast mates, hanging on for dear life — and wisecracking about others’ sentimentality.  The last day brought many tears and while I was moved, I didn’t’ cry.

Until Sergio.

Sergio and I began embracing and suddenly I couldn’t stop weeping.  For those of you who don’t know, Sergio Lopez-Rivera is Kate Walsh’s makeup artist and dear friend whom she graciously brought to Private Practice and who now is my bosom buddy as well.  In the horrible fourth season of the show – when my colitis was in crisis ending with a full colectomy, ileostomy, and reconstructive surgery – when I was 110 pounds and bald from hair loss due to malnutrition – during THAT year, it was Sergio’s job, along with Shelley Scanlon who did my hair – to make me look human.  Not just human – Private Practice glamorous.  I don’t know how they did it.  They nursed me through endless tears in the make up chair and a hemoglobin level that hit 5.  They were my daily nurses, my jocular co-workers and my dear, dear friends.

When I returned to work, Sergio informed me he’d been diagnosed with lymphoma, which he then treated for the next six months, coming out with flying colors.  It was my privilege to return the love that he’d bestowed on me as the patient and the caregiver roles were now swapped.

Last Friday Sergio and I wept because we hadn’t been alone during our brushes with mortality.  That this thing that some call a job on a TV show had blossomed into a mutual ministry without which I don’t think I would have made it.  So along with the gratitude for the cast and Shonda and the crew and along with celebrating Addison, Pete, Sam, Naomi, Violet, Cooper, Charlotte, Amelia, Dell and Jake – I also celebrate the fates for giving me a remarkable family for the past six years.  And because of you all — the loyal watchers, the rabid fans and the Twitter commentators – we were able to extend our family to include all of you.

A TV series that runs for six seasons is many things.  A miracle is one.

December 11, 2012
Lima, Peru

22 Comments to

“The End of the World As I Know It”

  1. Avatar December 18th, 2012 at 11:28 am R B Ripley Says:

    What a lovely remembrance. It’s a side of this business rarely glimpsed and one of the reasons I do love writing for television.


  2. Avatar December 22nd, 2012 at 12:01 am Afrouz Says:

    Dear Amy
    I haven’t had a chance to read this until now, just wanted to read it and go to bed after but now I can’t stop crying! I love the relationship between the cast. Saw you all in many events and noticed how close you were together and supported each other. I’m looking forward to see you back on my TV screen.
    Love, Afrouz


  3. Avatar January 2nd, 2013 at 7:37 pm Tackleft Says:

    Very nice remembrence, but how sad that just like in the show, “Sheldon” got short shrift – no mention – in your farewell.


  4. Avatar January 6th, 2013 at 10:22 am Anonymous Says:

    Amy, Please COME to Trinidad And Tobago. You should See The Smile On My Face………


  5. Avatar January 6th, 2013 at 10:39 am Sandra Hamilton Says:

    All you have to do is arrive. bring Kate, Brad The children, the fish. Just come to Maracas Bay, eat a Shark And Bake. Drink a Cold Coconut Water etc etc etc . YOU are Indeed A WONDERFUL LIFE.
    We are Your Family too
    Much Love
    From Plucky.


  6. Avatar January 8th, 2013 at 3:02 pm Joanne lewis Says:

    We were blessed with this wonderful series and all the cast and writers who gave us all so much. A million thank yous!


  7. Avatar January 8th, 2013 at 3:29 pm John DeMott Says:

    Amy, I have long been a fan and as a kid who grew up in the industry, both parents were pros, and who tried but never made it myself other than my career in radio, this blog should be mandatory reading for every kid who gets a chance to play the “big room”. Love, JohnDeMott2


  8. Avatar January 8th, 2013 at 7:23 pm Karitinha Says:

    Beautiful Amy, I love you and PPP. From Brazil =]


  9. Avatar January 8th, 2013 at 10:41 pm camiie Says:

    Love from Lebanon…


  10. Avatar January 8th, 2013 at 10:55 pm Cassie Says:

    wow, this is such a beautiful blog post. makes me feel better about my favourite show ending 🙂


  11. Avatar January 9th, 2013 at 5:17 pm Lyndy Lutz Says:

    Very well written insight into your wonderful show!!! You are an incredible talent Amy and I hope I see you again soon in another series!!!!


  12. Avatar January 10th, 2013 at 8:09 pm Charlotte Says:

    YOU FORGOT SHELDON! HOW RUDE!


  13. Avatar January 11th, 2013 at 8:56 am Cjolton Says:

    That was beautiful Amy. I feel so privileged to have been a small part of it. It truly was an amazing experience! Xx Chelsea


  14. Avatar January 13th, 2013 at 11:02 am 4evrblnd Says:

    Have loved you and your unique shows since NYPD


  15. Avatar January 14th, 2013 at 7:05 pm Daniel Says:

    Working on the show was truly a blessing. First time I can honestly say that in my years in this business. Everyone on the show was like family and will be missed. You really said it well Amy. Mahalo for your insight and aloha. It was an experience to be cherished. Ke hi’ipoi nei na po’e a pau ma kela hana ki’ionioni. Aloha.


  16. Avatar January 17th, 2013 at 8:27 pm Hanna Says:

    Such a well written post. You got me with your description of your colitis. I’ve been there, I know how it feels, and you are so amazing to have continued work throughout and to have such a positive outlook. I really loved PPP, I’m so gutted it’s ending. One door closes but another door opens, right? 🙂


  17. Avatar January 20th, 2013 at 4:13 pm dianne Says:

    Thank you so very much for talking about your colitis. After so much lonely suffering, I feel as though, perhaps, there is hope. thank you, again, Amy.


  18. Avatar January 25th, 2013 at 7:10 am Poucher Says:

    Amy, thank you for your bravery in publicly speaking about UC. I had the same surgery (with many complications) and years later, I’m still struggling to get my health and life back together. I hope you are doing great with the reconstruction, but many of us still need medications and even further surgery. I am so thankful for the reconstructive option, but please bring awareness that it is *not* a “cure” – it’s an improvement. There is much doctors still do not know; we need research into keeping our reconstructed parts healthy.


  19. Avatar January 26th, 2013 at 5:52 pm Stephanie Vitale Says:

    Your story is ultimately inspiring, you are gorgeous and amazing and you are so so strong, I had a rectopexy resection and had my colon cut also and still have digestive issues and hearing your stroy inspires me to live on and to strive for my goals and overcome everything that is going on right now, no matter what the struggle I can get through and its because of you and your strength and character, My dream would be to meet you one day and I truly hope this can come true! You are a true hero and inspiration! <3


  20. Avatar February 6th, 2013 at 6:25 pm idani Says:

    We loved the show and the true talent of the actors and writers and directors was confirmed in the last 5 episodes of PP. Anyway I am happy so you together in PP.


  21. Avatar February 22nd, 2013 at 7:03 pm AmyDo80 Says:

    Amy, In order to cope with it’s ending I’m watching PP from the beginning on Amazon! I never watched before Season 5, but now I love it even more! Violet is my favorite..(that didn’t change)…such an awesome shrink, and an awesome person. I can’t believe you made it through the season you were sick. That’s pretty inspiring! Hope you stay well. Anyway, from your story I get the sense that the real PP family is just as strong as the screen PP family. If so, than I love you all! Take care! Amy


  22. Avatar May 23rd, 2018 at 2:12 pm 8 Shondaland Stars Who Got Together In Real Life (And 8 Who Are Just Friends) Says:

    […] the series ended, Brenneman wrote a blog post on her website detailing how close the cast had grown over six […]


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