Isaiah Washington to Star in NBC Drama
This should come as pleasant news to Isaiah Washington supporters: the actor will be getting a second shot on the small screen, courtesy of NBC.
USA Today has the story: Isaiah Washington, the embattled star fired from ABC's Grey's Anatomy last month, is officially back to work.
Washington is reportedly set to guest-star on the network's high-profile remake of 1970s drama Bionic Woman this fall, and has signed a development deal to star in a potential action drama he pitched to the network for the 2008-09 TV season.
Washington, of course, was fired last month from the hit medical drama after on-set conflicts including use of an anti-gay slur, which later was connected to co-star T.R. Knight. Washington initially denied missteps, then apologized and underwent counseling at ABC's insistence.
But in subsequent interviews after his firing, he said racism might have been a factor and accused Knight of manipulating the controversy.
Katherine Pope, president of NBC's Universal Media Studios, says that despite the public baggage, Washington is "a brilliant actor," and she believes viewers will re-embrace him. "I think people watch characters on TV, not personalities" in the news, she says.
Washington won critical praise for his role as Dr. Preston Burke, who was written out of Grey's at the end of its third season in May, when he walked out on Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) moments before their planned wedding.
On Bionic Woman, he'll play an outsider with a mysterious agenda who is introduced early in the series and may either help the superpowered Jamie (Michelle Ryan, in the role first played by Lindsay Wagner) or take her down.
Washington signed on for at least five episodes of the drama, considered NBC's strongest shot this fall, in a crop developed by former entertainment president Kevin Reilly, who has since moved to the same post at Fox.
The Washington deal marks the first stamp of new NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman, who also is an executive producer of The Office and Ugly Betty.
"He's a totally awesome actor," Silverman says. "He did a great job for Grey's Anatomy and he's got a fan base." As for Washington's offscreen drama, "He's put that behind him. Let's give him a chance to do what he does."