Isaiah Washington Fails Anatomy, "Mad as Hell"

Actor will not be returning to Grey's Anatomy in the fall after ABC Television Studio opts not to renew contract, purportedly due to the negative publicity Washington attracted to the show earlier this year

By Natalie Finn Jun 07, 2007 4:01 PMTags

Sandra Oh is without a beau.

ABC Television Studio confirmed to E! News Thursday that Isaiah Washington will not be returning to Grey's Anatomy this fall.

Publicist Howard Bragman said that Washington got a call earlier in the day informing him that he was "not invited back to the show next season," prompting this Network-inspired statement from the 43-year-old actor:

"I’m mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore."

While execs refused to acknowledge whether the proverbial demise of Dr. Preston Burke was a direct result of Washington's off-camera difficulties this year, people close to the situation have been saying that not only was ABC peeved about the negative publicity the actor attracted this season but he also has exhibited a pattern of difficult behavior on the set.

Actually, considering how angry ABC seemed right after Washington uttered an antigay slur backstage at the Golden Globe Awards in January—while denying he had ever called costar T.R. Knight such a thing last October during an argument with Patrick Dempsey—it was surprising that Washington lasted as long as he did.

So, it almost makes the studio's decision not to re-up his contract a surprise, considering he hadn't been tossed thus far.

Washington's use of the offensive epithet at the Globes prompted indignation and outrage from the network, gay rights groups, Grey's fans and the actor's colleagues, including Katherine Heigl, who suggested earlier this year that her fellow TV doc should just keep his mouth shut.

After a public apology, a sit-down with GLAAD and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, a stint in counseling to work out his issues and an appearance in a PSA that aired just a couple of weeks ago, it seemed as if the fallout from Washington's screwup had finally settled.

Heigl, for one, said in Entertainment Weekly earlier this month that she was willing to let bygones be bygones.

"I don't know Isaiah well, but he takes his work seriously, and he loves his character. He made a big mistake, and it was thoughtless and boneheaded, and I think he's very sorry and embarrassed. This is something that will have changed the scope of his life," Heigl, who's currently starring in the hit comedy Knocked Up and has not yet confirmed whether she'll be returning to Grey's next season, told the magazine.

Speaking to E! News' Ryan Seacrest on Friday, star Ellen Pompeo said she had no inkling Washington wouldn't be back.

"I got a call late last night from my lawyer and we received the news. And that’s really all I know... [Grey's producers] are very secretive about a lot of things. I guess actors have big mouths.

"It’s not really my business. It doesn’t have a tremendous a lot to do with me. Whatever happens, happens. We just have to roll with the punches."

Although Bragman had maintained as recently as last month that Washington was, as far as he knew, returning to the show, nothing was set in stone.

Knight, whose status was also unsure in light of the controversy swirling around the show this year, finalized a $125,000-per-episode deal for season four earlier this week.

Like Washington, whose character ended season three by breaking up with Oh's Dr. Cristina Yang and moving out of their apartment (and her life, we now know), Knight's Dr. George O'Malley had failed his end-of-year intern test and emptied out his locker at Seattle Grace, not wanting to give it another go.

But unlike Dr. Burke, Dr. O'Malley will be back.