Elisabeth Finch left "Grey's Anatomy" in March 2022 after questions arose about her medical history.
Reports earlier that month said Finch faked cancer, a kidney transplant, and PTSD.
Finch has written personal essays about her cancer for publications such as The Hollywood Reporter.
"Grey's Anatomy" writer Elisabeth Finch was reportedly placed on "administrative leave" following "serious concerns" within Shonda Rhimes' production company Shondaland that "parts of Finch's life story she shared in the writers' room and with the press were made up," the entertainment newsletter The Ankler wrote earlier this year.
According to The Ankler and personal essays Finch had published with publications such as Shondaland.com and The Hollywood Reporter, Finch had survived cancer, lost a kidney and part of a leg, and had to abort a fetus while undergoing chemotherapy.
Finch's lawyer, Andrew Brettler, told Insider in a statement that she was never placed on leave. Yet two weeks after the initial report that Disney was expected to begin an internal investigation into the claims of Finch's faked ailments, the writer took a leave of absence.
"I will always remain one of 'Grey's Anatomy's biggest fans. I loved the show from day one and had the honor to write for it since season 11," Finch said in part in a statement to Insider, sent by her lawyer in April.
"'Grey's Anatomy' is one big-hearted, brilliant family, " it continued. "As hard as it is to take some time away right now, I know it is more important that I focus on my own family and my health."
When reached for comment by Insider in April, Shondaland, which produces "Grey's Anatomy," said in a statement, "Only Elisabeth can speak to her personal story." ABC declined to comment in April when reached by Insider.
It reads like the end of the story, but it's just the beginning. Because on May 2, the world got to read Finch's estranged wife's side of the story in Vanity Fair, and it's stranger than the fiction Finch wrote on TV.
Brettler told Vanity Fair that some of Beyer's claims are untrue. He told the magazine Beyer was "neither 'reliable' nor 'unbiased'" since Finch and Beyer are currently going through a "highly contentious divorce," according to Brettler.
Shondaland did not have further comment when reached in May after the release of the Vanity Fair articles, and ABC didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment in May.
Here's everything we know about the latest scandal surrounding "Grey's Anatomy."
Finch became a writer and producer on 'Grey's Anatomy' in 2014 for season 11
According to Vanity Fair, Finch caught Shondaland's attention in 2014 because of a now-deleted essay she wrote for Elle about living and working with chondrosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that is usually fatal.
Finch wrote in the essay that she continued working on the set of "The Vampire Diaries," a show that follows the dangerous lives and complicated romances of vampires and other supernatural creatures, against a doctor's advice after her diagnosis.
"I watched the producers' cuts under a fog of Demerol, punched up dialogue about vampire-werewolf hybrids with a shunt in my spine," her essay read, per Vanity Fair. "Yes, I was down 17 pounds, bald, vomiting relentlessly, but I was still living alone. Still stubborn as hell."
A development executive at Shondaland noticed the essay and showed it to the then-showrunner of "Grey's Anatomy" as a potential hire for the ABC medical drama's eleventh season. Finch later met with Rhimes herself, who then hired Finch, according to Vanity Fair. Since joining the show as a writer in 2014, Finch has produced 172 episodes of the hit ABC series and has a writing credit on 13 of them.
She's credited with writing "Anybody Have A Map?," a 2018 "Grey's Anatomy" episode that features Catherine Avery (Debbie Allen) having an operation to treat her aggressive chondrosarcoma. Finch is also the writer of "Silent All These Years," a 2019 episode featuring rape survivors that got a lot of press attention.
Vanity Fair reported that in February 2022, Finch's estranged wife, Jennifer Beyer, sent an email to Rhimes' personal email account, warning the acclaimed showrunner that Finch was faking her story. Rhimes didn't respond to the message, according to Beyer, so she said she texted the current "Grey's Anatomy" showrunner, Krista Vernoff, and was soon contacted by Disney's human resources department.
This seemingly marked the beginning of the end of Finch's time working on "Grey's Anatomy."
According to Vanity Fair, Finch first began speaking about her cancer diagnosis when she was working on 'The Vampire Diaries'
Vanity Fair spoke to some of Finch's family members, who said she began to tell them she had cancer around the time she was working on "The Vampire Diaries." Finch, who grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, told relatives that doctors discovered her bone cancer after an alleged knee replacement surgery.
"It was devastating," an unnamed cousin, who lives in New Jersey, told the magazine of learning the news.
According to Vanity Fair, the cousin said a bald Finch would sometimes visit from Los Angeles while supposedly undergoing chemotherapy, looking "sick." Finch also had a bandage on her body where a chemo port would be, according to her cousin.
In part two of Vanity Fair's report, Beyer, who's also a nurse, told the magazine that Finch doesn't have a port scar. She also said Finch had full eyelashes and eyebrows, which is strange because chemo patients lose hair.
Finch still said she had cancer in 2014 when she got the job on "Grey's Anatomy." Other staffers on the show told Vanity Fair that Finch's diagnosis afforded her privileges at work, like extra time to write episodes. She also took time off to supposedly make visits to the Mayo Clinic for cancer treatment. Friends said that even though they drove her there, she never wanted them to come inside.
There were two other cancer survivors in the "Grey's Anatomy" writers' room, but an unnamed writer told Vanity Fair that those people stopped feeling comfortable talking about their cancer experiences because Finch would always become emotional during those conversations if anyone questioned or contradicted her.
Vanity Fair reported that when confronted by a suspicious Beyer toward the end of their relationship, "Finch 'admitted' that she had at one time had cancer, but that she got chemo, and recovered."
Finch's story of abuse mirrors her estranged wife's
Beyer and Finch met at a treatment facility in Topeka, Kansas, in 2019, Vanity Fair reported. Beyer told writer Evgenia Peretz she was there to treat the psychological symptoms of an abusive marriage.
Finch entered the center about six months into Beyer's stay under the pseudonym "Jo," the same name of the "Grey's Anatomy" character she was researching for a storyline. She told residents she was also there to treat PTSD, according to the magazine.
The women became close and therapists allowed them to room together even though they were in the same process group, according to Beyer. Soon, Finch's abuse story began to mirror Beyer's.
When Beyer's husband threatened to come and find her, with the facility increasing security as a result, suddenly Finch said her brother Eric (whom she said abused her as a child) was threatening to find her, too. Beyer said she saw a letter Finch said Eric wrote but didn't read it herself.
After treatment, Finch and Beyer's relationship deepened thanks to visits with each other. On one of Beyer's trips to Los Angeles, she got a call from the Kansas Department of Children and Families informing her that her husband had committed suicide, Beyer told Vanity Fair.
According to Vanity Fair, two weeks later, without Beyer's knowledge, Finch sent an email to her "Grey's Anatomy" coworkers.
"I've gone bc my brother died by suicide. He was on life support for a short while but ultimately did not survive," it read, according to the publication. "I say this not bc I need or want anything from anyone, I'm not a delicate flower or whatever, I just want people to know I'm still here, still part of the team."
However, Finch's brother is still alive and currently works as a doctor, per Vanity Fair. He declined to comment when reached by Vanity Fair regarding their report on Finch. Insider reached out to Eric but didn't get a response.
Finch once said she cleaned up a friend's remains from the floor of a synagogue after a mass shooting
Vanity Fair reported that Finch, who grew up in a middle-class Jewish family, had tweeted about being the victim of a hate crime and also once told coworkers and family she suffered PTSD related to the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, during which 11 people were killed.
Finch, who went to college in Pittsburgh, told people, including Beyer, that one of her friends died in the attack. She said she went to the site of the tragedy in the aftermath to help "clean up the remains of her friend's body from the synagogue floor," the article reported, in accordance with Jewish tradition.
"Grey's Anatomy" writers told Vanity Fair that they had to be even more mindful of what they said around Finch after the shooting because even phrases like "shot down" would cause her to wince "dramatically."
Finch said her experience at the shooting site caused her alleged PTSD, which is why she went on leave and sought treatment at the center in Topeka, where she met Beyer.
Vanity Fair contacted the two Chevra Kadisha burial societies that coordinated cleaning up the synagogue and found that "nobody named Elisabeth Finch was involved." When Insider reached out to New Community Chevra Kadisha in May, a coordinator said that only men were present from their organization while the second burial society, Pittsburgh's Orthodox chevra kadisha, did not immediately respond.
Finch said that Anna Paquin gave her a kidney
One of Finch's first jobs in Hollywood was acting as an assistant to Alan Ball, the creator of "True Blood."
So, when she said she was diagnosed with a rare cancer that caused other alleged health issues like kidney failure, Finch told her friend Anna Paquin, the star of HBO's hit vampire series that ran from 2008 to 2014.
According to Finch, Paquin donated a kidney to her.
Vanity Fair confirmed via an unnamed source that Paquin does not "have anything to do with Finch's kidneys." Representatives for Paquin didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
"Two hospital hangouts. Nearly two weeks of hell. But FINNNALLLLY…One happy, healthy kidney. Thanks for all the [heart emoji]," she wrote on Facebook, according to Vanity Fair.
Later when they were engaged, Beyer told VF that Finch went to the hospital with pain that she said was "probably kidney stones" in her one good kidney. "Looking squarely at Beyer, the doctor said, 'Her kidneys look fine,' stressing the plural," the magazine added of the experience.
Finch's future on the show remains in question
"Grey's Anatomy" was renewed for a historic season 19 back in January.
Finch remains on personal leave as of May, and her future on the show remains unknown.
The last writing credit she has on the show is for season 17 episode 14 titled "Look Up Child" in which Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) visits his father Robert (Eric Roberts) and his ex-wife April Kepner (Sarah Drew) to get clarity about his future before moving to Boston with April and their daughter Harriet.
Read the original article on Insider