Almost a month after CBS announced that Jennifer Esposito would be taking a leave of absence from Blue Bloods, the actress is opening up about the "ugliness" that ensued between her and the network.
On Oct. 20, CBS announced that the actress, who has played Donnie Wahlberg's character's partner since Season 1, would be taking a leave of absence from the series. "Jennifer has informed us that she is only available to work on a very limited part-time schedule," CBS TV Studios said in a statement at the time. "As a result, she's unable to perform the demands of her role and we regretfully had to put her character on a leave of absence. She is a wonderfully talented actress and we hope that she will be able to return at some point in the future."
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Esposito accused the network of "shameful behavior," claiming that it put her on paid leave after she collapsed on set, due to her longtime struggle with Celiac disease. "Look, they have a job that they need done. I get it. You don't think I can do it in the two or three days that I am offering in that, in that work space of eight days? Then I get it, you have to replace me," Esposito told Fox News' Fox Files in an interview that airs Sunday night. "But that's not what happened. What happened was ugliness."
Esposito, 39, elaborated. "The first AD came in and said, 'I'll get the medic.' And we were, like, there is nothing, unless he can cure me of Celiac disease; this is [what] we've been trying to tell you," Esposito said. "They had to carry me into the car and bring me to the doctor, where I went, and I was there for seven hours."
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Esposito claims that the network's subsequent action, to put her on a leave of absence and replace her character with a rotation of other female actresses, is not legal. Under her contract, Esposito says that she is not being paid, but is also not allowed to work on another network TV show or cable TV show that airs at 10/9c. "I believe I was told I was on suspension, which meant I am still in contract, not being paid, because that's suspension and they illegally stopped paying," she said. "So they kept me in my contract without pay, and yes, it's completely illegal, but they also knew that I didn't have the money or the means to sue them. I have been in the business for 20 years; there have been so many things of injustice that happens in this business. It's what you sign up for; it is what it is."
She added: "This, though, is something that is not about me, I feel. This is about a disease that people don't understand. And what went on after, it makes me sick."
Megan Ketch (Law & Order: SVU) and Law & Order: LA's Megan Boone are among the actresses set to replace Esposito as the detective partner of Danny Reagan (Wahlberg).
Blue Bloods airs Fridays at 10/9c on CBS.