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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Isaiah Washington: Not Shutting Up Anytime Soon

Forget Paris Hilton. Larry King’s most controversial interview this week will be Monday when he talks with Isaiah Washington in his first TV interview since he was fired from “Grey’s Anatomy.”

But just because this is his first TV interview doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been talking. On the contrary, the guy just can’t keep his mouth shut…

First, after being fired, he issued the statement, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore,” inspired by the film “Network.” Then his spokesperson backed up that statement in an interview with “TV Guide,” questioning why ABC fired him after he had done everything they asked (counseling, meeting with gay and lesbian groups, a PSA). Then, there was an interview with “Entertainment Weekly” where Washington said he was “saddened by the outcome” and “Isaiah will go on and do what I love to do.”

“I just hope people can understand in the industry and otherwise that it’s a horrible misunderstanding what transpired with our show and it was blown out of proportion,” he told “EW.”

But then, he dropped a bomb in an interview with the “Houston Chronicle.” Saying “they fired the wrong guy,” Washington alleged that T.R. Knight stirred up the notion that the homophobic slur was targeted at him, creating “a negative work environment,” using the incident to get a salary increase and a bigger role on the show. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Knight said that the slur was against him and that everyone on the set heard it. Washington told the “Chronicle” that was a lie. “I used the word during a disagreement with Patrick. I apologized for that. We shook hands and went back to work.”

Washington also told the paper that he actually asked to be released from his contract after the first incident last fall and then again in January when he repeated the slur at the Golden Globes (He said his use of the word then was taken out of context).

But the biggest bombshell came this week when Washington told BET host Keith Boykin, “I know Patrick Dempsey has supported me by stating that if there is anyone that needs to be fired, it is T.R. Knight, because he has created such a negative environment on the set.” Washington said that Knight had been “very tactical” in trying to get him off the show. Knight, according to Washington, felt that his character, George, was being treated very “caricature-ish and dopey” and that he used the incident to get his role beefed up. Washington said that’s why George has become an “uber he-man that’s sleeping with everyone.”

Washington went on to say that Shonda Rhimes and others at “Grey’s” “are not happy” with Knight and “think that something has gone awfully awry with his stability. I can freely say this now, because I am no longer a Disney employee and I am no longer gagged.”
Any way we could get that last part changed?

It’s interesting that Washington told the “Chronicle” that he made three errors in judgement: “believing the cast of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ were like family; believing I had the freedom to express myself with family and that we could resolve our issues; and trusting ABC was going to take care of me.”

So he doesn’t believe that using that horrible word in the first place was an error in judgment? If he really believed the cast was his family, he shouldn’t have wanted to use that word. And I guess he doesn’t think using that horrible word again in front of the international media was an error in judgment? He can say it was taken out of context all he wants, but there was no reason to use the word again and bring up all of the ugliness on the show’s big night.

Yes, it might’ve made more sense to fire Washington right after the incident (and would’ve saved everyone a lot of trouble now), but “Grey’s” is a serial drama, and it would’ve been difficult to just get rid of Burke in mid-season. And Shonda Rhimes doesn’t believe in recasts.

Now comes word that NBC is in negotiations with Washington for his own show or to join an existing one. “Law & Order” and “Las Vegas” are two of the early guesses.

I say good luck to anyone who gets stuck with this guy…

“Larry King Live” with Isaiah Washington is scheduled to air Monday, July 2nd at 9 p.m. on CNN…