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Heigl faces questions about her 'difficult' reputation at TV critics tour

Katherine Heigl attends the NBC 2014 Summer TCA held at the Beverly Hotel on Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

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Katherine Heigl attends the NBC 2014 Summer TCA held at the Beverly Hotel on Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Katherine Heigl's return to network television hit a speed bump at Sunday's TV critics press tour in Los Angeles.

The former "Grey's Anatomy" star returns this fall in the NBC drama "State of Affairs." Heigl plays CIA analyst Charleston Tucker, a Washington insider who each day briefs the U.S. president (played by Alfre Woodward) on matters of national security.

Heigl is an executive producer on the series and so is her mother, Nancy. Earlier Sunday, NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke jokingly referred to Nancy Heigl as Katherine's "mom-ager." Speaking of the show's development, Salke said it was not a surprise when the mother "walked in the door with her, we knew they were a set and worked together in the past."

Later, during the "Stage of Affairs" session, Nancy Heigl was asked about her specific role on the series. Interjected her daughter: "To make cookies."

Her mother said she was new to the business and was learning and was being helped by her more experienced colleagues.

The reporter insinuated that both Heigls had reputations for being difficult on set. Katherine Heigl made a tumultuous exit from "Grey's Anatomy" in 2010.

A second reporter followed up on questions of Heigl's reputation and behaviour. The cast and producers visibly tensed as Heigl asked for the question to be repeated, which it was, almost word for word. Executive producer Ed Bernero ("Third Watch") attempted to answer for the actress but was shouted down by the reporter.

Eventually, Heigl said: "I can't really speak to that. I can only say that I certainly don't see myself as being difficult. I would never intend to be difficult. I don't think my mother sees herself as being difficult."

Heigl added that she thought it was important for "everybody to conduct themselves professionally and respectfully and kindly. If I've ever disappointed somebody, it was never intentional."

Heigl, who co-starred with Seth Rogen in "Knocked Up," also said she "loved doing romantic comedies, I loved doing them and I loved watching them, but I stopped…exercising different muscles of my ability."

Heigl went on to say that she felt she was "letting down my audience, that I wasn't challenging them either."

"State of Affairs" premieres Nov. 17 on NBC and Global.

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Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in

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