‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Constance Zimmer Dishes on the Battle for the New Face of Seattle Grace

Constance Zimmer on "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)

Seattle Grace is America’s least efficient hospital. At least that’s the way Alana, the expert who was hired to save it from financial ruin sees it. Last week on “Grey’s Anatomy,” after implementing new procedures that the doctors hated, she announced that the hospital would be sold. This week, she generates more angst with her latest plans to shake up the hospital. Constance Zimmer, who plays the seemingly coldblooded medical bureaucrat, shared why Alana is carefully scrutinizing the hospital’s numerous handsome doctors, what happens when potential buyers visit Seattle Grace and hints at the reason Alana gave up her own surgical career.

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Last week’s episode ended with the bombshell that Alana was preparing to sell the hospital. This week do we meet the potential buyer?
Yes. We do. We have a potential buyer that is coming in called Pegasus that is trying to see if the hospital is worthwhile. So there’s a little bit of competing going on. At the same time we’re trying to find a new face of the hospital by picking which one of the handsome doctors to use, and that of course becomes competitive. At the same time, I’m still struggling to do my job which is trying to save this hospital overall. So it’s about trying to show these buyers what an amazing place this is and why they should keep the doors open.

Preview the Battle for the New Face of Seattle Grace:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/watch/Grey-s-Anatomy/5191720111929016112/17508931619/The-new-face-of-Seattle-Grace/embed 580 476]

What is the criteria for becoming the face of Seattle Grace and what are the responsibilities of the job? Is it like the hospital’s Miss America?
It’s about who in a photograph can represent the feeling of being a doctor working at Seattle Grace.  Is it a smile? Is it experience? Is it an overall sense of being and that’s why it becomes pretty competitive because they’re all trying to prove that they have that.

Who’s competing?
Jackson (Jesse Williams) and Alex (Justin Chambers) are the two that are in line for becoming the new face.

Does Alana have say in who is selected?
Alana is definitely the overall overseer of anything having to do with the revamping of the hospital. But there’s a lot of people who have say in determining who becomes the official face. It does become a surprise.

Last week Alana introduced some new policies and methods that did not go over so well. How does the situation escalate this week?
Every week I’ve got to do something, right? I come in and I stir up the pot. We’ve got to try everything because some things are not going to work, I think now it’s about implementing new software and protocol for what the doctors are going to need to start implementing for their work. Computers and such and how does that affect the doctors, some of whom aren’t capable of stepping up in that way. Because it’s something that they’ve never had and hadn’t been trained in. Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Richard (James Pickens Jr.), they try and do their own investigative adventure by going to another hospital that Pegasus has taken over and seeing what they implement, how it works and if does work and if it was something that they think would be good for them. So it’s kind of nice that everybody is trying to figure out what’s happening to their hospital in different sections then coming together and sharing those stories.

It seems to me that the obvious solution is for all of the doctors who were each awarded fifteen million dollars from the lawsuit to band together and buy the hospital and run it the exact way that they want. Is there any chance that that could happen?
Well, you know anything’s possible. But besides money they would have to have somebody because I don’t think they have enough money if that were to be the case. There’s a lot of things that come with keeping a hospital open. You need somebody who is going to be able to come in and run it, not just put up the money for it. But anything’s possible and I feel like what at least I’ve done is I’ve come in and I have caused them all to rethink their positions at the hospital and do what they can to help it as opposed to hurting it and trying to get them to work together as opposed to fighting for themselves.

It’s been established that Alana knew the Chief when she was in medical school. She seems to be a little bit cold towards him. What exactly is their history and why is she not necessarily that thrilled to be working with him?
We don’t go into too much backstory on that because we don’t really have the time within five episodes. But for what I know of the characters is just that he represents a time in her history when she thought her career was going one way and because of what happened to her it went another way. We do dive into the background of why she did give up being a surgeon later in the upcoming episodes so I think that maybe when you learn more about her through that you understand why the tension between her and Dr. Weber is what it is because it reminds her of a time that wasn’t such a good time in her life.

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So there is a reason? Last week, she enjoyed performing surgery with Owen. Is there a part of her that wants to go back to that sort of doctoring?
I definitely think so. I think any time someone’s dreams are crushed, there’s the people who can fight to still try and fulfill those dreams and then there’s the people who just give up. I think she falls in between those because she is actually really good at the job she’s doing now and she was good at being a surgeon. But there’s something that holds her back that could be bigger than the both of them.

There are a lot of handsome doctors at Seattle Grace. Do any of them catch Alana’s eye?
Well, she’s human, so yes. But would she act on anything? No. Because if you haven’t already noticed, she’s very much all business and that is her M.O. and nothing is going to distract her.

Does Alana truly believe that she improving the practice of medicine?
Well, her job is to keep the hospital open. So whether it’s creating better medicine or not, I think for her, she’s trying to keep everybody employed and  trying to keep a place open where sick people can go and get better. If there’s some people who can’t handle it then those people should go to a smaller practice but I do think ultimately it’s hard for her. It’s a very thankless job because people only see the bad things in it and they don’t see that she’s trying to keep everybody figuratively alive.

New Episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” air on Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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