09/12/2007 at 07:00 PM EDT
After a turbulent year behind the scenes, Ellen Pompeo now gives the mood on the set of Grey's Anatomy
a clean bill of health – though things have changed with the departure of cast members Kate Walsh
and Isaiah Washington.
"It does feel different," Pompeo told PEOPLE at L.A. Confidential
magazine's annual Emmy party, celebrating her cover shoot. "I love change. I think when one door opens or closes, another one opens. The seasons change and everything changes and I think change is good."
"It's good to turn over the dirt," she continued of the show's fourth season. "It feels nice and there's new beginnings for everybody and it feels great."
Walsh now has her own spin-off, Private Practice
, and Washington will appear on the new show Bionic Woman
after his firing from Grey's
in the controversy
over his use of a homophobic slur.
"They're missed, of course," says Pompeo. "But I'm also very happy and very hopeful for their new beginnings. You know, they're both taking on whole new chapters in their careers, which I think is really exciting for them. So, to sort of think about how it affects us is rather selfish. We just have to hope that their new endeavors are as successful, and I just wish them the best."
Pompeo's feelings were seconded by her Emmy-nominated co-star T.R. Knight. "It's been going really well," he told PEOPLE Sunday at a party celebrating the Emmy-nominated television producers, including Grey's
creator Shonda Rhimes.
Though Knight said he's excited to be working new cast member Chyler Leigh, he is missing his pal, Walsh.
"I just went to her wedding
this weekend and so luckily we'll still see her, but what she brought to the show and on set and her humor we'll miss her a lot," Knight said.
Pompeo was joined at the L.A. Confidential
party by her finacé, music executive Chris Ivery. The actress said she and Ivery aren't in the midst of any wedding plans, and don't expect to have a traditional ceremony.
"To me a wedding is a piece of paper," she said. "I don't think it's going to change how we feel about each other. Every day is like a wedding when I wake up with him. We just have something so special. I don't need a big dress or four hundred people there to declare my love. I think we declare it every day to each other. So that's just our way. Different for different people."