Isaiah Washington Update: Despite Apologies, Actor's Job Not Safe Yet

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Unfortunately, the storm of controversy swirling around Isaiah Washington and the gay slur he made about his co-star, T.R. Knight, is not only failing to dissipate, it's generating more and more attention with each passing day.

Isaiah Washington as Dr. Preston Burke
ABC released a statement after his now infamous Golden Globe meltdown saying the network has "a long-standing policy to create and maintain respectful workplaces" and wouldn't tolerate actions like Washington's. The network did not say, however, what action it would take, if any, and recent reports hinted that his job was safe.

The week following the Golden Globe debacle saw the embattled actor release a strong statement of apology, and meet with leaders of the gay community to make amends. By and large, his efforts were well received by the people he met with.

But despite his public apologies, the actor's job may be in jeopardy. Ratings for the show didn't dip much last week, but an executive at ABC's parent company, Disney, acknowledged the possibility of Washington being axed. The executive told the New York Times that his behavior may run afoul of Disney's discrimination policy.

This incident has provoked strong feelings for and against Washington's removal. Many observers, such as Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, say it's hypocritical for Washington to remain on the set and that he should be removed for the good of the show. With an unabashedly multicultural cast, its reputation as a beacon of diversity will be forever tarnished if this behavior is not addressed by Shonda Rhimes and the higher-ups.

Others, such as Jasmyne Cannick, a social commentator, activist and member of the National Association of Black Journalists (she is also a lesbian) recently launched a petition to keep Washington on the show. You can read her justification for starting the pro-Isaiah campaign by following the link, and check out the petition to save his job here.

How it all plays out remains to be seen, but according to E! Online sleuth Kristin Veitch, Washington is definitely not out of the woods yet. Executives at ABC are contemplating ways to sack the troubled star. She writes on her official blog:

"I just received word from a highly placed source within the Touchstone/ABC family that ABC and Disney executives are currently considering the option of firing Isaiah Washington from Grey's Anatomy, effective immediately, without having him appear in any kind of farewell episode.

According to this reliable source, if the network does follow through with this option, the producers are likely to run a full-screen announcement at the beginning of the first Burke-less episode announcing that Isaiah Washington is no longer part of the show.

I'm also told by various sources that the loss of Preston Burke is not an easy task for Grey's writing staff to deal with, given that he has a major storyline (including a life-changing event) coming in the next few episodes that air during February sweeps. Those episodes have already been shot."

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


Perfect work!


Beautiful site!




With so many episodes about second chances or assuming errors it would be a contradiction not to preach with the example; perhaps being over-sensitive?. Dr. Burke is a difficult character to substitute...tough call for ABC


Although the wedding was over,Burke must come back to give Christina a perfect reason.Didn't he love her?
If burke was fired,the GA will not be perfect.He is so handsome that we can't forget him.I like him.


I think he should stay on the show.


I'm so sick of reading and hearing about Isaiah being a bigot,what should ABC do about him?, etc. ABC shouldn't think of doing anything besides moving on. I'm sure there are several other networks who would LOVE to pick up Grey's Anatomy & allow humans to make some mistakes.
He simply chose the wrong description/word for "homosexual men", hell I know people that still call them sissies, "chemically addicted"=Junkies, "lesbians"=Dykes, LOL :)
you can't keep up with the politically correct language, it changes almost daily.
Unfortunately, we've become a society that tries to CONTROL EVERYONE and EVERYTHING . . .who amongst us hasn't said, done or thought something we regretted later?. . . if not, live a little longer (you will)
give me a break


The only thing sad about this whole incident is that two GROWN men had an argument and instead of dealing with it like men, TR went on Elllen and whined like a girl. He called me a F. Boo, Hoo when IW said it he should have punched him in the mouth and been done with it. Then you have Dizzy Izzie defending TR in the press which REALLY makes TR look gay. TR claims he had to come out of the closet .... sorry, but you were never in it!


I don't know about any of you, but i cannot watch an emotional scene with George and Burke and take it seriously! I am so mad at Washington that I really hope he gets fired. I love Knight and think he is just such a great actor and person. I do agree, however, that we need to see more Meredeth and Derek scenes! I love them together! Anywho, that is my feelings on the subject!


They can easily get rid of IW and TR, I don't think that either one will be looked at the same way again. Also this is what keeps a show fresh when you get new people, where are they going to go with the two of them. As far as the show it has already started to slip in the ratings. I think they made a big mistake by not having more Mer/Der and their love for each other. Snoring scenes don't get it with me and unless I start seeing more of them I will stop watching this show. I am getting bored with all this George and Burke scenes.


Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)

Burke was- He took something from me. He took little pieces of me, little pieces over time, so small I didn't even notice, you know? He wanted me to be something I wasn't, and I made myself into what he wanted. One day I was me Cristina Yang, and then suddenly I was lying for him, and jeopardizing my career, and agreeing to be married and wearing a ring, and being a bride. Until I was standing there in a wedding dress with no eyebrows, and I wasn't Cristina Yang anymore. And even then, I would've married him. I would have. I lost myself for a long time. And now that I'm finally me again, I can't. I love you. I love you more than I loved Burke. I love you. And that scares the crap out of me because when you asked me to ignore Teddy's page, you took a piece of me, and I let you. And that will never happen again.