Isaiah Washington Fires Publicist as ABC Weighs Options

TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello reports that embattled Grey’s Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington has fired his longtime publicist and picked up 42 West’s Allan Mayer and Kelly Mullens, a team supposedly adept in “crisis situations”.

Washington_2Ausiello also reports that an ABC source tells him that the network is weighing its options regarding what form Washington’s punishment might take, while the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, has yet to publicly denounce her star’s behavior.

Following Washington’s reiteration of the word “faggot” in the Golden Globes press room, Rhimes, after giggling nervously, stepped up to the mic and said: “Things were created in a very odd way by the press that were not necessarily completely reported as true … [but] I don’t think any reporter made it up.”

The NYT reports in today’s edition that ABC executives have been ordered not to comment beyond a prepared statement issued by the network as Washington’s fate is decided.

Will this be the week that ABC shows they will not tolerate hate speech or will they decide it’s still okay to bash gays?

You may have missed…
Isaiah Washington Apologizes for Anti-Gay Remarks [tr]
ABC issues Statement Regarding Isaiah Washington [tr]
ABC Must Fire Isaiah Washington Over Anti-gay Remarks [tr]

Comments

  1. mepaul says

    If the producers of Grey’s Anatomy were smart they would have Washington’s character on the show come out of the closet…and write him lots of same-sex love scenes. It would be a fitting response to his actions and give the guy a crash course in sensitivity.

  2. Brian says

    Enough with the race-baiting already. It was a putrid thing to say regardless of what color he was. White people have been fired for saying bigoted remarks on the air too, so let’s keep our discussion relevant to this situation. There are plenty of situations out there that are more concrete examples of racial prejudice and therefore more deserving of your justifiable indignation than this is.

  3. patrick nyc says

    “Let’s all notice how the black actor gets scapegoated for one word so ABC/Disney can throw him under the bus and leave on staff people who spout hate every day…”

    The issue with Mr. Washington is not “one word” but a pattern of outlandish behavior, both on the set and at the Golden Globes. He not only used hate speech, he assulted another actor. If ABC was going to “throw him under a bus” they would have done it last October when he first made the comments.

    After six years of being the whipping post for the GOP, I no longer have any tolerance for any kind of homophobia. I also was outraged at remarks from both Mel Gibson’s and Michael Richards. There is no room for any kind of hate speech in my life. I will not give Washington a pass because he is black, rather I expect more from a person who having seen hate in his life, he should know better.

    Mr. Washington says he’s sorry and needs time and help with his problem. I say give him all the time in the world. Fire his bigot ass now.

  4. James says

    “Enough with the race-baiting already. It was a putrid thing to say regardless of what color he was.”

    True enough but the “race baiting” is also coming from folk who feel a need to call Washington a “filthy ape” or a nigger. This whole episode has allowed all of us to engage our racial and homophobiac hysterias in full overdrive.

    peace

  5. noah says

    Uh, has anyone noticed that Washington has not had any supporters come to his defense in the same way celebrities like Patrick Swaezy defended Gibson or Rosie O’Donnell defended Michael Richards? There haven’t been any African-American celebrities or public figures defending him either. In fact, Paris Barclay, the successful, gay African-American director and producer called for Washington’s firing.

    So, Washington doesn’t have many friends in the industry–black, white, or purple). I think that Washington’s fate is sealed; he’s toast.

    The other commenter is right, Disney is being hypocritical. Disney’s ABC Radio’s bread and butter is pushing hard right-wing, ultraconservative talk radio that has for years pushed racist and homophobic views. Disney will fire Washington because he’s one man. They won’t, however, do anything about the twelve other people who spout hate through their radio network because that would cost real money.

    Strictly from a money perspective, Washington could be fired with cause for breach of corporate conduct rules. That would limit Disney’s financial liabilities. Disney would then be free to introduce a new studly character of color to replace him. ER survived the loss of George Clooney, I’m sure the Disney strategists are reviewing this.

    Grey’s is probably already writing a “very special episode” to deal with gay issues. Maybe they’ll boost the role of the gay bartender or add a recurring gay or lesbian hospital staff person. Right now, it’s all about saving the Grey’s franchise. ABC sees seven to ten years of Grey’s cash pouring in to their coffers from broadcast, syndication, and DVD sales. Hollywood is a famous for its cutthroat tactics. Everyone is replaceable.

  6. Leland says

    Bravo, Patrick NYC!!! ZERO TOLERANCE! And, pardon me, Brian, but few here have been “race baiting,” and some of those who have not, including myself, have called those out who have. There is another term, though, “playing the race card.” You declare Washington’s remarks as “putrid,” yet, “There are plenty of situations out there that are more concrete examples of racial prejudice and therefore more deserving of your justifiable indignation than this is.”

    “more concrete examples”? Perhaps you meant “more extreme,” And, “more deserving of…justifiable indignation” appears to be in the proverbial eye of the beholder and you base yours on race.

    Hate speech is hate speech is hate speech. And it is no more unfair, and most certainly not “racist,” to expect more of a person of color, or any member of any other group that has suffered discrimination, than it is to expect a person who has experienced poverty to understand it and demonstrate more sensitivity to others poor; war, to understand it; life-threatening illness to understand it. Just as a white gay man, I do not willingly let any racist white gay men or women in my life.

  7. James says

    Leland,

    “And it is no more unfair, and most certainly not “racist,” to expect more of a person of color, or any member of any other group that has suffered discrimination…”

    Nope. It is unfair, and racist, to expect a person of color to somehow be sensitive to other forms of oppression. Being a victim of bigotry, or coming from a group of people who have suffered, does not mean that person makes connections with others. Just like it is unfair of me to expect white gays and lesbians to be up on race stuff (I don’t by the way), it is wrong for you to think that somehow Washington’s racial background can give him insight about homophobia.

    Of course none of this gives Washington a pass (just like it doesn’t give a pass to those gay folk who have shown their true selves in talking about this situation). However, as I’ve said before, his race has nothing to do with this. It is his words and actions and we should pay attention to that.

    peace

  8. Cory says

    Something tells me nothing will happen with Isaiah Washington. Anyone remember the ABC reality show, “Welcome to the Neighborhoord”, which was cancelled due to the pressure from the AFA and other anti-homosexual groups? This show was based around a neighborhood cul-de-sac that had an open house for sale. The neighborhood was given the chance in getting to know various diverse families in order to determine who would be given the chance at being the new neighbor. In the end, a gay couple with a child won the show, even turning an extremely homophobic man around to openly loving and accepting them (as well as a punk rock and african-american family). Of course, all the right wing groups stepped in and shouted bloody murder, effectively cancelling the show.

    EVERYONE: READ THIS ARTICLE INTHE NYTIMES ABOUT “WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD”.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/21/arts/television/21welc.html?ex=1295499600&en=7698753916497ba8&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    ANDY, I’m surprised this wasn’t made mention on here and that no one wrote ABC and Disney about this blatant slap in the face to homosexuals and other discriminated groups.

    Given ABC track record and (lack of) commitment to homosexuals, Isaiah Washington will get a slap on the wrist for this and everyone will move on…

  9. patrick nyc says

    “Nope. It is unfair, and racist, to expect a person of color to somehow be sensitive to other forms of oppression. Being a victim of bigotry, or coming from a group of people who have suffered, does not mean that person makes connections with others.”

    James, I have to agree to disagree with you. As my favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird says, don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes. I am often upset, but no longer surprised, when I hear my Christian friends say anti-semitic comments. I have also been disappointed when I hear fellow white gay men say racist remarks, and I always call them on it.

    Yes I do expect them to know better, having come from a place where they know hate speech. While my white Christian friends may not, my gay friends certainly do. Do I hold them to a higher standard? Yes I do. Like it or not, they have walked down a road and seen first hand hatred directed at them, only because they belong to a certain group. Unlike my past lovers and friends who are of color, I can blend in as a gay white male.

    That said, I feel more of a responsibility to speak up for those who can not. Mr. Washington chose a profession where his words hold great weight. He also has been in the business long enough to know many gay and lesbians and the price of coming out in the field.

    “Just like it is unfair of me to expect white gays and lesbians to be up on race stuff (I don’t by the way), it is wrong for you to think that somehow Washington’s racial background can give him insight about homophobia.”

    I do not just expect white gays, but any human being to be up on race stuff, homobobia, anti-semitism or any other form of hate. Unless we do, things will never change. While you may not think it is right for Mr. Washington to havve insight, many here and in the media do. Thank God you are in the minority on this one.

  10. James says

    Patrick,

    If you are going to use “To Kill a Mockingbird” then you can at least admit the words of A. Finch were not the ethos of everyone in the town. It is the rare person who takes the time to walk in another person’s shoes (Atticus being one). And let’s be honest about that book: Tom Robinson is dead at the end and his death changes nothing.

    But leaving my lit-crit hat aside for the moment, I’ve never said people should not be held accountable for their actions and words. I have said, and I’m stealing this, is prejudice is as American as apple pie.

    peace

  11. MDC says

    Patrick, I could not agree with your first statement more. He should have been fired by now.

    Rhimes likes to give interviews about her show’s diversity. In fact diversity in the workplace is an underlying theme of the show. But she has yet to explain why gay men should not receive the same protection as other minorities in her own actual workplace. If the pattern of behavior had involved another minority (women, blacks, jews, etc.) rather than gays, Washington would be fired by now. No question about it. As for ABC’s “zero-tolerance” policy, that’s obviously a joke. I can’t believe she hasn’t released a statement.

    The most depressing thing is the meeting scheduled this week between Giuliano & Washington. In effect Giuliano will be giving Washington cover by emerging from it and saying “Isaiah has consented to meet with members of…..”, “I do not believe Isaiah is at heart…”, “Isaiah will undergo sensitivity…”, all the usual bullshit. And nothing will happen.

    He should be out on his ass. Very simple.

  12. patrick nyc says

    “prejudice is as American as apple pie.”

    James I’m not sure where you are from, how much traveling you do, or how often you read about news around the world, but prejudice is a universal problem.

    We also have for the first time a woman, a latino and an african-american running, and having a serious chance of winning, the most powerful office in the world.

    Cases in point, the sunni/shiite conflict in Iraq and through out the mideast, Durfur, Somalia, Ireland, France or just about any other country, all have problems with race and religion.

    I do think that Bush has made things worse here, but we are far from being alone in its people being prejudice.

    As for the ending of Mockingbird changing nothing, a black man was freed and many whites who were quick to listen to hate were shown they were wrong. I once again agree to dissagree with your point.

  13. rob adams says

    It’s not racism to expect one minority to have empathy for the plight of other minorities; It’s called logic.

    When you come to own, by birth, a less-than-common SkinColor, Race, Orientation, Height, Disability, etc… all these attributes constitute a social-hardship. Society causes you all sorts of problems with you are different; Anyone who’s progressed to kindergarten knows this. It’s a basic life experience, and one of the earliest we have as humans.

    He knows this, too. And he knows it intimately a black-man (as do i as a gay-man) — and that makes us both culpable to higher standards of conduct and empathy.

    It’s basic.

  14. rudy says

    I am going to re-post this from a previous discussion: I do not give Shonda a pass because she may have been “uncomfortable” or not. She is the Producer of the show. She had responsibility for dealing with the original incident in which one of her employees used a derogatory term against another and thereby created a hostile environment, in violation of the company’s rules. Had she properly exercised her duties to the other cast members (and crew) IW would have been publically reprimanded and the second incident would not have occurred.

    She is complicit by failing to act. I do not give a damn about her personal comfort level or her desire to push edgy storylines. She had a duty to act, she failed to do so, she should own up to her failure and be punished accordingly.

    It is all about taking responsibility for one’s actions. If one fails to do so then one’s employer should take appropriate action.

  15. patrick nyc says

    Well worth repeating RUDY, and well said ROB ADAMS. Which is why I’m not letting this slide, nor should anyone else who thinks it was wrong.

    Contact ABC and tell them how you feel. ABC.com, then scroll down to contact us. Tell them how pissed you are, and tell your friends also.

  16. Joe T. says

    Maybe it should, simply, just come down to him getting fired because he can’t get along with his co-workers on that (dopey) show. Just replace his character with a new one.

  17. James says

    Patrick NYC,

    What black man was freed at the end of “Mockingbird.” Tom Robinson, the black man charged with rape, is killed in prison (he attempts to escape). As for the whites in the book changing, that is open for debate.

    I read the newspapers and am not trying to make the US different from other countries where race gets played out everyday; however, before you start singing the praises of America’s tranquil race relations (when compared to other nations), I suggest you read some Ida B. Wells. Our history is not as smooth as our present. But as a keep stressing, none of this means Washington needs a pass because of his words.

    Rob,

    It’s not logic and to assume so is ahistorical. Discrimination does not lead to empathy with others.

  18. Larry says

    Aren’t you doing the same thing that he did by repeating the “F” word? I know that the first time he said it was bad, but the second time he was just saying it in reference to what he previously did or did not say. If you are writing that he said it, and actually spelling out the word, then aren’t you doing the same exact thing that he did the second time? I think that if it’s wrong for Washington to say the word when saying that he didn’t say it, then it is just as wrong for you to write it when reporting about it.

  19. Leland says

    Thank you for the apology, James. However much we still disagree about how much the experience of discrimination should make one sensitive to the discrimination against others, note that Washington, speaking only for himself, already essentially acknowledged that when he said, “”I know the power of words, especially those that demean….With one word, I’ve hurt everyone who has struggled for the respect so many of us take for granted.”

    I am one of those still waiting for a comment of remotely similar grace from Ms. Rhimes, and will long remember that it was only Ms. Heigl and T.R. who have publicly demonstrated any courage [only government and the military dislike “troublemakers” more that Follywood] in this ongoing saga while Rhimes and Washington, until this alleged statement, have not.

  20. James says

    Leland,

    “I know the power of words, especially those that demean….With one word, I’ve hurt everyone who has struggled for the respect so many of us take for granted.”

    And you believe this is what Washington thinks as opposed to a smooth pr person who wrote it and mailed it for him? Come on, man! No one here is that young to believe that!

    peace

  21. noah says

    Shonda Rhimes is a producer, a manager. She reports to a Disney VP. Her bosses tell her what to say and not to say. Don’t you think that Disney execs told her not to say anything?

    When is the last time you saw any corporate manager in the middle of a sticky situation say something that might lead to a lawsuit? Simply, a show’s producer won’t make a public statement against a member of staff unless its approved by the studio. To do so opens up the possibility for liability from both accused (slander, defamation of character) and victim.

  22. says

    Just wondering; if Washington had used the term kike, wop, spic or any other demeaning word of that nature, would there even be a discussion of whether this is worth discussion or not? We homosexuals are the last safe minority group to scapegoat and ridicule. The fact that he is black, makes his sensitivity even more disgusting.. Then again, I have to wonder how he would react is someone called him a bigoted nigger.

  23. says

    Hey Michael Fein, why? You wanna try and call him that? His bigotry gives you a right to be bigoted too, right? What would you call a jew who called you a f@ggot? You all need to stop acting like black people(or any other minority) owe you something. It’s not gonna do anything but make them(well us, actually) more indignant.

  24. mikey d says

    Michael D Fein, you’re an idiot. I’m guessing he would react with disgust if you or anyone else called him a nigger. He is wrong but not hypocritical. While most of the people who posted comments here believe that if you are a minority that you should be held to a different standard of sensitiveness, I’m disturbed with the fact that means that straight white males get a pass because they have not been historically discriminated against. Why is that, huh? Somehow you are less responsible for your literacy in oppression because you are privileged; if that’s the caase then I’m tired of making excuses for people in power.

  25. R.J. says

    Comments here are a great opportunity for people to express their heartfelt views.

    If you send your comments to ABC, probably more could be done. Direct action on the issue, since they’d be receiving e-mails and phone calls, and they know so many people are concerned.

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