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October 11, 2007

What's Up, Doc?

Go to ABC.com for more from Private Practice.

Kate Walsh

Kate Walsh

Photo Credit: Mark Abrahams

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Kate Walsh has been dancing naked all day. It's a Wednesday in early August, and since 2 p.m. she's been on a closed soundstage at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, shooting a scene for the first episode of her new series, Private Practice. It's a spin-off of the monster hit Grey's Anatomy, centered on her character, Dr. Addison Montgomery, a neonatal surgeon who has left Seattle's romantic dramas for a clean start in L.A. Fresh from the shower and feeling giddy in her new beach house, Addison rocks out in the raw to the Scissor Sisters' "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" — until she spies a neighbor spying on her. Turns out he's Dr. Sam Bennett (Taye Diggs), also newly divorced and one of her partners at the hip, holistic Oceanside Wellness Clinic.

Walsh, who turned 40 in October, wasn't utterly nude — along with flesh-tone undies, she wore discreet moleskin patches. But discreet isn't always her style. To surprise Diggs, she stuck a sign on each breast patch, one reading "Help," the other reading "Me."

Mark Tinker, director of episode one, says resolutely that Walsh has what it takes to carry the show. "My dad [TV legend Grant Tinker] was married to Mary Tyler Moore. Kate has every comedic chop Mary had, and she has all the dramatic chops too."

Addison arrived eight episodes into Grey's as a romantic foil, "all black clothes, red lips, and attitude," Walsh remembers with a grin. But Walsh's innate likability spilled over into Addison, and soon viewers were rooting for her. No surprise, then, that of all the characters, she'd be the one awarded her own show. "Everyone was really supportive of me, honestly. There was no resentment — not to my face, anyway." She laughs. "I felt a little guilt, and it's always scary to leave a sure thing. But it was like the trepidation you have when you leave home to go to college: It's absolutely the right next thing to do."

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