'Grey's Anatomy': Katherine Heigl out for real?

katherine-heigl-greys-anatomy-320.jpgIt's that time of year: "Grey's Anatomy" is nearing the end of its production schedule, which means that it's time for a fresh round of speculation that Katherine Heigl's time on the show is coming to an end.

This time, though, there may be more to it than just talk. Zap2it has learned that Heigl, who had been on maternity leave and was due to return to filming on March 1, has not been on set this month. Heigl's character, Izzie Stevens, was last seen on the show on Jan. 21; that was a one-episode shot after Heigl took time off in the fall to work on a film.

Zap2it contacted ABC Studios about Heigl's status; a rep said, "We have no comment."

The January episode could up being the last time we see Izzie. Heigl's film leave was written into the show as Izzie storming off because of a disagreement with her husband Alex (Justin Chambers). The most recent episode hinted at reconciliation, but in the end Izzie ended up leaving after Alex told her he deserved someone who would stay regardless of his faults.

Reports say that Heigl and the studio are now negotiating a way to let her out of her contract, ending a couple years of will-she-stay-or-will-she-go conversation. Heigl does have a burgeoning movie career: The theater-owners group ShoWest recently named her its female star of the year. She has two films, "Killers" and "Life As We Know It," due for release this year, along with several other projects in development.

Heigl won an Emmy for playing Izzie in 2007 and has been nominated for two Golden Globes for the role.

"Grey's Anatomy" is in the midst of shooting its final five episodes of the season.

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Related:

Katherine Heigl, Vanessa Hudgens, Jerry Bruckheimer to be honored by ShoWest
'Grey's Anatomy': Izzie's back -- again
'Grey's Anatomy' recaps

Photo credit: ABC