EXCLUSIVE: Former Blue Bloods co-star Jennifer Esposito is eying her own show, this time on the unscripted side. I’ve learned that the actress is filming a pilot for E! that she also executive produces. The untitled project is a spinoff from the cable network’s upcoming docu-reality series Playing With Fire, which premieres Sunday. Esposito is among those featured on the show, which follows the personal lives and careers of tastemakers and chefs inside New York’s culinary scene. Esposito’s storyline focuses on the actress, who was diagnosed with Celiac disease five years ago, opening her New York gluten-free bakery, Jennifer’s Way. With the bakery now up and running, the pilot will chronicle Esposito’s duties running the place while juggling the other aspects of her life. Atlas Media Corp, the company behind Playing With Fire, also produces the Esposito pilot. The E! project, packaged by Buchwald Fortitude, marks the first major TV gig for Esposito following her much-publicized exit from CBS/CBS TV Studios’ Blue Bloods after the studio put the actress on an indefinite medical leave due to her struggles with Celiac.
Blue Bloods’ Jennifer Esposito blasted CBS TV Studios for putting her on medical leave in an interview today with Fox News Channel. “What happened was ugliness,” the actress told FNC’s Arthel Neville in a segment scheduled to run on FOX Files tonight. CBS TV Studios made their decision after Esposito’s doctor advised the actress, who has been diagnosed with Celiac disease, to reduce her work load. Here’s more of what Esposito had to say about what happened:
Last week 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. And I am not able to work on any other TV show, on network. I can do a film or a Broadway or something on cable that doesn’t go in the ten o’clock time slot. 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 twenty years; there has been so many things of injustice that happens in this business. It’s what you sign up for; it is what it is. 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.
The Blue Bloods producer said …
This Friday, November 2, CBS was slated to air the episode in which Jennifer Esposito’s character Jackie Curatola is being put on a leave of absence, and the first temporary new partner for Detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg), played by Megan Ketch, is introduced. However, I hear Hurricane Sandy delayed post-production on the episode of the drama, which is based in New York. As a result, Blue Bloods will air another original on Friday, a standalone episode featuring Danny working protection detail for an infamous photographer who is a witness for Danny’s sister, prosecutor Erin Reagan-Boyle (Bridget Moynahan). Esposito does not appear in the episode (she also was not in the episode that aired last Friday). Esposito’s last episode (for now) has been rescheduled for next Friday.
EXCLUSIVE: CBS and CBS TV Studios have recruited another actress to fill the void left by co-star Jennifer Esposito being sidelined with Celiac disease. Law & Order: LA alumna Megan Boone has been tapped to play a new temporary partner for Detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg). Her deal is for three episodes with a series option behind it.
In a move that has stirred controversy, Esposito was put on medical leave recently after her doctor advised her to reduce her work load from full- to part-time, a request the studio said it could not accommodate given the demands of the role. CBS left the door for Esposito to return but in the interim, it is bringing in actresses to play revolving partners for Danny, starting with Megan Ketch, who is filming four episodes. She will be followed by Boone. Coincidentally, Esposito was among several actresses tried out as temporary partners for Danny in guest arcs at the beginning of Season 1 before she got the gig full-time. Boone’s option also allows her to become a regular should a need arise. UPDATE: Jennifer Esposito took to Twitter to react to Boone’s casting. “There it is. CBS got rid of the only minority cast member so they can have an ALL WHITE CAST like CSI,” she wrote.
Also on Twitter, Esposito last weekend called the move to sideline her “shameful behavior.” She has expressed her desire to return to …
UPDATE: Jennifer Esposito On Leave From ‘Blue Bloods’, Calls CBS’ Sidelining Her “Shameful Behavior”, Guest Stars To Fill
UPDATE: On Twitter, Jennifer Esposito disputed CBS TV Studios’ account of why she is going on a leave, slamming them for sidelining her and callling it ”absolutely shameful behavior”.
“CBS PUT me on unpaid leave and has blocked me from working anywhere else after my doctor said you needed a reduced schedule due to Celiac,” she wrote. “CBS didn’t listen to my doc and I collapsed on set. Which everyone saw! After a week off my doc said I could return to work but CBS implied that I was NOT truly ill and this was a scheme to get a raise! It’s been almost two months without bringing me back to work + keeping Me from working anywhere else!… Absolutely shameful behavior.”
PREVIOUS… EXCLUSIVE: Jackie Curatola is leaving the force, at least for now. Blue Bloods co-star Jennifer Esposito, who plays Detective Danny Reagan’s (Donnie Wahlberg) partner, is departing the CBS drama series for the foreseeable future. “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. “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.” The studio would not comment on Esposito’s reasons to ask for the significant workload reduction, but the actress has been public …