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.


I guess there are rifts and problems on the set of GA way, way beyond our knowledge maybe this "faggot" thing are not the only mistake IW had committed. Ive read in TWOP its TR who's leaving the show. But i also don't like IW to get fired from GA coz he is essential in the development of the story. and I alos don't like TR leaving! but i think the most popular couple is not burke and tina...its mere/derek...not only in the US but all over the in the philippines MERE/derek tandem are among the favorites.


Hi. Just found this on and thought I would share it with you. Their poll seems to have similar results to ours on greysanatomyinsider. "Isaiah Washington gets GLAAD, as his apology tour continues. The embattled "Grey's Anatomy" star just met with the leaders of two gay rights groups to address his now infamous slur. "He is genuinely sorry and genuinely remorseful," said GLAAD President Neil Giuliano. Giuliano also told "Extra" that at the culmination of his one-hour meeting with Isaiah, the actor pledged to work with gay community leaders in the future, to "help us educate people a broader number of people about this hateful language," Giuliano explained. Meanwhile, other celebrities around the globe just can't stop talking about the "Grey's" scandal. "Sometimes people from the outside make it a little bigger than what things are," Salma Hayek said at the Producers Guild Awards. At Monday night's Trumpet Awards in Las Vegas, which celebrate African American achievement, Smokey Robinson was hopeful the controversy would run its course. "I love Isaiah, I've known him for a long time," he said. "He's my brother, and I hope everything works out well for him." The "Grey's Anatomy" controversy continues to be the highest tracked story on our website, and here's what you are saying about Isaiah's fate: "Hate must never win; Isaiah Washington must be fired," Henry said. "No way! Isaiah is an amazing actor," Amanda added. "If they do fire him I will quit watching." But the viewers have spoken, and more than 65 percent of you think Isaiah's apology is enough, and that he should stay put on "Grey's Anatomy." "


On another note, and I realize this is not the right place to post this, but I thought it was really nice and that people might see it here. The FEA is offering to let teachers see Freedom Writers free for one week. I think that is pretty cool. Here is the information about it in case ay of you are or know of any teachers. Great news - AMC Theaters and Paramount Pictures have agreed to let
teachers across the country see "Freedom Writers" for free for one week!
Between January 26 and February 1, AMC Theaters will be celebrating
teachers and spreading the Freedom Writers' message by allowing teachers
nationwide to see "Freedom Writers!"
Please see AMC's press release for more information at .


I agree. I have seen the word faggot written in the press, and heard it on television. So what their say is that if you use the word "faggot" instead of saying the "f-word", then that makes you a homophobic. On another note, Mr. Washington is trying to heal and so is the cast, what we need to do is let them. I, too, wouldn't continue to watch if he wasn't on it. You know, sometimes when we try to be so self-righteous, it comes back to bite us in the behind.


You might also print the article in the Chicago Sun Times that quoted a reliable source and higher up at ABC who said Isaiah would not be fired. This was also yesterday. Since Kristen's post yesterday that you are citing above, Isaiah has sought help for what ever they deemed he needed help with. He is doing everythiing he can do to appease the haters in the public and the decision makes at ABC Touchstone. He deserves an opportunity to prove his sincerity and follow through. Purplemerder, I will not watch the show if he is fired. It is that simple. I may be only one person, but there are many, many who primarily watch for this character and his relationship with Cristina. The show would be completely ruined for us if he goes. I enjoy the other characters, but not enough to remain a fan. GA would move on. It would just move on without me. It is interesting that it is fine with some fans that as long as the characters that they like remain on the show they are willing to sacrifice the one that others have invested in and care about. I have not read the discrimination policy that you are talking about, but using the word fxxxxt in an argument is not discriminatory. If he refused to do a scene with TR because he is gay, or if a man was not hired because he is gay, that is discrimination. Using a derogatory term in an argument is not discrimination. In my opinion, ABC could care less about the entire protection of gay rights thing. They were embarrassed on national television by one of their own and they are making him pay for it. I highly doubt that they will be able to use discrimination as a rationale for firing him if he chose to go to court over it. There is nothing illegal about the use of this word. If it were illiegal TR used it multiple times on Ellen. Will and Grace used it multiple times across their run on television. I don't think ABC wants a lengthy court battle over unfair firing practices and that kind of continued publicity. I am still hopeful that they will allow him to remain on the show because it is the right thing to do. He physically hurt no one. He broke no law. He apologized for offending his castmate. He is seeking help to control impulsive and self-destructive behaviors. This man needs a break. He is just not the horrible person the media is making him out to be.


I am with you Carol....i watch the show for the entire cast not just one


Didn't Disney have some problems a few years ago at the theme parks - that they were accused of being homophobic? If that is correct, then they may feel the need to over-react to compensate... I'm not taking sides, just wondering if anyone else remembers that taking place....


i can't believe it has come to this. i feel sad that we may not have the pleasure of watching a wonderful actor on our favorite show any longer. it will not be the same for sure. i agree with you purple that it may be out of shonda's hands at this point and that is a shame. with the amount of publicity this has gotten, i think it will take a miracle for IW to keep his job. also, i feel compelled to say that to a certain degree i find some merit to stephanie bates comments and Grey, that does not make me or her a homophobe. the situation is not as cut and dry as that.


Adding: editing my last comment: Isiah Washington is NOT the be-all and end-all of GA. Time passes, life moves on, so will GA, regardless of whether IW stays or goes.


YES, I would be saying the same thing if PD had done this. I would say the same thing regardless of WHO it was! If the discrimination policy of Disney was violated, it wouldn't matter who it was, IW, anyone--they should be released. If it were any of us, you can be darn sure we would already be gone! The attorneys are just being careful at this time. Maybe they will 'find' a way to release IW, maybe they won't. Yes, IW is human and made a mistake, but he ALSO KNEW the rules to being a part of the Disney conglomerate. Actors and actresses adapt and adjust to changing scripts, they film movies which take months, often working 12-14 hour days, they have change all around them all the time. Sandra Oh and everyone on GA can adapt to changes. After all, they are being paid very good money to pretend to be other people. If they can't adapt to sudden changes, then acting is not the job for them. If IW does leave GA, you guys are making too much of a big deal about finding the 'right' actor to match Sandra Oh. Who's to say Yang needs to continue to be in a relationship? I will continue to watch GA whether IW is fired or not. I watch not because of PD or anyone else, I watch GA because it's a GOOD SHOW. Isiah Washington is the be-all and the end-all of GA.


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)

There's a reason I said I'd be happy alone. It wasn't 'cause I thought I'd be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It's easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don't have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It's like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.