Long ago, during that hazy time before Jennifer Lawrence rode into town, Katherine Heigl was one of Hollywood’s Golden Girls. She won an Emmy for her work on Shonda Rhimes’s Grey’s Anatomy! She starred in a string of box office smashes, including Knocked Up and 27 Dresses! But shortly after the release of her final successful film, 2009's The Ugly Truth, Heigl and Rhimes “[came] to an agreement to release her from her contract immediately.” At the time, Heigl said she wanted to “focus more on her family.” Years later, we heard a different story.
In 2014, Rhimes described the cast of Scandal by saying, “I don’t put up with bullshit or nasty people. I don’t have time for it...There are no Heigls in this situation.” Does that mean Rhimes considers Heigl a “nasty” person who spews a lot of bullshit? It’s certainly easy to interpret her remarks in that way—and plenty of people must have, because Heigl’s most recent project is...selling kitty litter.
As spokesperson for Cat’s Pride litter in its current campaign, pointed out to me by ONTD, Heigl plays a cat psychiatrist whose advice to cat owners is always something along the lines of, “Start using Cat’s Pride and your cat will be fine.” Not the strongest concept, but the spots are well produced and not embarrassingly written or performed. And hey, celebrities in need of (or who simply want more) cash take spokesperson gigs all the time. (Remember when Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick started hocking eggs and orange juice after Bernie Madoff stole all their money?) It’s just that, well, these are about cat shit, and require Heigl to say things like, “It controls odor better” and “Why did you dookie on Derek’s pillow?” (The latter is said to a cat, who responds with a flippant meow.)
And though a portion of Cat’s Pride’s profits go to Heigl’s animal welfare charity, The Jason Debus Heigl Foundation (named after late brother), the gesture doesn’t fully mask the memory of being publicly scorned by one of the most powerful and respected people in Hollywood, or kill the suspicion that it was a major factor that led to her accepting a job shilling a brand of kitty litter I’d never heard of until today.
Heigl is by no means a Hollywood pariah—she starred in a high-profile (though eventually canceled) NBC drama with Alfre Woodard just last year—but her road back to TV success may take a little more time (and filmed conversations with cats) than any of us expected.
Image via screengrab.