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Showbiz Tonight

Isaiah Washington Interview

Aired July 05, 2007 - 23:00   ET


BROOKE ANDERSON, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ANCHOR: Tonight, a SHOWBIZ special event, Isaiah tells all. fired "Gray`s Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington sits down with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT for the entire hour in a no holds barred explosive interview on the gay slur heard around the world, on what really happened on set, the argument that started it all. And the shocking call telling him you`re fired.

ISAIAH WASHINGTON, ACTOR: I felt like I had been humiliated, chastised and put in my place.


ANDERSON: On what he thinks about "Gray`s Anatomy" now and how he really feels about his co-star T.R. Knight.


WASHINGTON: I couldn`t believe that he tried to throw me under the bus that way. This man straight lied.


ANDERSON: Plus, Isaiah`s startling claim that this is the last time he will ever talk about the controversy.

WASHINGTON: I will shut up.


WASHINGTON: I`m not talking about it ever again.


ANDERSON: Which is why you will not want to miss the SHOWBIZ special event, Isaiah tells all, in the interview you will see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Hi there everyone. I`m Brooke Anderson in New York. And this is a SHOWBIZ special event, Isaiah Washington tells all. OK, tonight you will hear things from the fired star of "Gray`s Anatomy" that you have not heard before, including Isaiah saying his interview with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be the last time he speaks publicly about the gay slur that led to him getting fired from one of the most popular television shows out there today.

Isaiah sat down with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s A.J. Hammer for a very rare and powerful interview. And I can tell you that Isaiah did not hold back about anything! About the gay slur and what he says really happened; about why feels former co-star T.R. Knight, quote, threw him under the bus and should have been fired himself. Get ready for a compelling hour of television, beginning with a brief update on what`s happened up until now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You let me down this year, Preston.

ANDERSON: The man who played Dr. Preston Burke on "Gray`s Anatomy" didn`t do that well either. Not only did Isaiah Washington become the center of a bitter behind the scenes battle at one of TV`s most popular shows, "Gray`s Anatomy," his reported and public use of an anti-gay slur put his name alongside Don Imus and Michael Richards in a national discussion of sensitivity and free speech.

Now Isaiah Washington comes to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT to finally tell the story of what he says really happened.

WASHINGTON: Bad idea. After today, I will shut up. I`m not talking about it ever again.

ANDERSON: It all started as an on set confrontation with co-star Patrick Dempsey. News reports quickly surfaced claiming that during that argument, Washington used an anti-gay slur in reference to co-star T.R. Knight. T.R. Knight soon went public with his homosexuality and talked about it on "the Ellen Degeneres" show.

T.R. KNIGHT, "GRAY`S ANATOMY": I`ve been never been called that to my face.

ANDERSON: It all came to a head at the Golden Globes. Fresh off "Gray`s Anatomy`s" win for best TV drama, Washington, in front of all of his horrified cast mates, issued this dramatic and career-damaging denial.

WASHINGTON: No, I did not call T.R. a faggot.

ANDERSON: Minutes later, Katharine Heigl, the "Gray`s Anatomy" and "Knocked Up" star knocked Washington while speaking to "Access Hollywood."

KATHERINE HEIGL, ACTRESS: He needs to not speak in public.

ANDERSON: Online petitions called for Washington`s firing and gay activists while not exactly calling for his head, were not happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re very outraged and very disappointed and very upset.

ANDERSON: Washington apologized for using the slur, and apologized to T.R. Knight. He even filmed a PSA for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

WASHINGTON: Words have power, I`m sorry.

ANDERSON: But after the season finale of Gray`s, when Washington`s character bailed on his fiancee at their wedding, ABC bailed on Washington, announcing that it would not be renewing his contract on "Gray`s Anatomy." And now, Washington brings his side of the story to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


ANDERSON: And now, you will hear every bit of Isaiah`s story in his own words. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s A.J. Hammer sat down with him for a very candid and at times emotional interview about the controversy, the mistakes he says he made and the reason he is speaking out about it now. A.J. asked him what really led to the fight and who Isaiah was actually referring to when he used that gay slur.


HAMMER: You`ve had quite a difficult year, which really all began with an argument or a fight, however you want to put it --

WASHINGTON: Not a fight, but an argument.

HAMMER: That you had with Patrick Dempsey at "Gray`s Anatomy" on the set there. Later it would come out that you used a gay slur. Now, there have been many conflicting reports about the context in which that slur was used. Can you tell us what really happened as far as that use of that word?

WASHINGTON: Absolutely. It`s the first time I`ve been allowed to be on camera. I was gagged after the Golden Globes. I was accused of being too articulated.

HAMMER: We`ll get to that in a few moments.

WASHINGTON: But now I can say that it was -- it was a horrible misunderstanding. But the context, I was referring to myself of how I felt in the argument that I was feeling with my cast mate, you know, my other leader. Things happened in a way that escalated because of something I said to him that he misunderstood because of his tardiness and he -- when we talked about that later, he says I thought you were disrespecting me. I said, yes, but you were disrespecting me by berating me in front of our crew. We`re both --

I always perceived him as not only McDreamy, but he was Batman. I was like the Green Lantern. You know, we`re a team. We both felt horrible about the misunderstanding. But I was using the term of you`re not going treat me like X, X, and like a X, in terms of feeling like this is a man of weakness, in my hand. It had nothing to do with sexual orientation. It`s like I feel like this is the worst you can feel like. Maybe if I used the N word; you mistreated me -- then this probably would have been a totally different situation.

But it was coming out of a place, A.J., of how I was feeling. Imagine, you know, someone just puts their nose and their mouth and they`re screaming at you right now on this set in front of your entire crew, about 25 people, for several seconds, which seems like an eternity and you`re asking that person to remove themselves. And it`s a genuine argument because they think I said something that offended them.

It was a horrible misunderstanding. And a lot of things were said on both sides of the fence. But it`s interesting that that one word was the one thing that was launched in the national inquiry and horribly misreported on who I said it to, how I said it.

HAMMER: Let`s get into that, because, of course, the accounts that were reported when things really began to blow up were that you were directing that word at T.R. Knight, who at the time was not out as a gay man. He did later go on "The Ellen Degeneres" show after he felt forced to come out. Let`s listen to what T.R. said on that show.

WASHINGTON: Yes, let`s do it.

KNIGHT: But I`ve never been called that to my face. So I think when that happened, it`s like, I don`t know, something shifted and it just became bigger. You know what I mean?

HAMMER: So, Isaiah, why did T.R. believe that it was directed at him?

WASHINGTON: You have to ask T.R. that. He horribly misrepresented himself. I was gagged, and couldn`t talk about it. I felt like my insides were burning up when I got online the next morning and saw that. I couldn`t believe that he tried to throw me under the bus that way. This man straight lied.

HAMMER: So it had nothing to do with anything that was going on?


HAMMER: A word you used referring to yourself, as you say. And for whatever reason you feel that he took it --

WASHINGTON: My good brother and what I thought my good cast mate friend had some other grievances that I think he just projected and got -- I think he became overwhelmed and was looking for someone to take a shot at. I will go to my grave saying that, again, you know, the only reason his name, T.R., was in the same sentence was because I was referring to a rift that is still happening between Patrick and T.R. They don`t talk, even to this day.

Only reason I brought his name into it, I was referring to a conversation that T.R. shared with me about Patrick and their rift. And as a big brother, saying that I`m older than Patrick and I`m older than T.R., when this particular behavior raised its ugly head on my situation, then it seemed like it was very in line with the kind of behavior that T.R. had mentioned about it.

So I`m think, whoa.

HAMMER: So when you saw all of this going on, you must have been in disbelief almost?

WASHINGTON: I`m sitting at my computer -- like I said, if you can feel hatred in your spleen, your liver, I could feel the hatred coming through the Internet after this happened. And again, after, you know, it just -- I couldn`t understand for the life of me why he was even allowed to go on Ellen the day after the Golden Globes. I was -- I felt unbelievably shocked, stunned, betrayed.

And the moment he said -- and I looked at it at least -- it`s been looked at least 66,000 times on Youtube. But I looked at it at least five times and the thing that kept coming out was, he said this has never been said to his face before. I just melted. I melted with disbelief, because he was nowhere on the set that I can remember. And I certainly, certainly wasn`t talking to him.

I had no motivation up to that point, A.J. He was just a wonderful New York actor that I had the utmost respect for as a cast mate. I thought -- and still do even after the incident. I feel that our work, our story line was very, very compelling.


ANDERSON: This story is just getting started. After that infamous night backstage at the Golden Globes, Isaiah`s co-star Katharine Heigl criticized Isaiah very pointedly and very publicly, and then they all had to face each other at work.


WASHINGTON: I didn`t want to go back. I didn`t want to go back to work. When all the champagne wore off and all the adrenaline came down, the reality hit me.


ANDERSON: What was that first day like back on the set? Coming up, Isaiah opens up about that and about this --


WASHINGTON: I felt like I had been humiliated, chastised, put in my place.


ANDERSON: Isaiah speaks very emotionally about getting the call that he was fired. Exactly what was said on that phone call? That`s coming up as the SHOWBIZ special event, Isaiah tells all, continues.



WASHINGTON: No, I did not call T.R. a faggot, never happened.


ANDERSON: And with that response backstage at the Golden Globe awards, Isaiah Washington unknowingly sealed his fate with "Grey`s Anatomy." Welcome back to the SHOWBIZ special event, Isaiah tells all! I`m Brooke Anderson in New York.

Now, according to Isaiah, there`s more to the story about what led him to make that fateful comment than you`ve heard about, including what he says couldn`t be heard on the microphones. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s A.J. Hammer talked with Isaiah about what happened that night, and what it was like to go back to work the next day.


HAMMER: At that press conference, after you guys had picked up an award, somebody asked you about the controversy, and this is -- as it was developing, you grabbed the mike, and you said you did not call T.R. that word. And in doing so, you used the word.

WASHINGTON: I used the word. Bad idea.

HAMMER: Now, looking back -- that`s my question.

WASHINGTON: Bad idea. But I got many other good ideas. And I had some really good ideas before that night. And a little too much champagne, and all the adrenaline, and the pressure of actually being in the room. Because I was given pretty much an ultimatum the day -- that was my wife, it was her birthday. It was a great evening. But I wanted to be at the in-style party, because I felt like if I can`t get another ticket to be in the ballroom, I felt like the least I could do was enjoy my wife`s birthday at the In Style party, and have some wine.

And I said to all my fans, who happened to be security members, as we went into the hotel. I said, if we win, I want you to part these waters like the red sea, because I`m going to come running out of this In Style party and shoot through the door. I said, if we win. But if we don`t, then there`s really nothing to talk about. I wouldn`t be missed.

Not to mention that my mother-in-law had an aneurysm three days prior. And so I had all of that going on, all of these pressures. But old me, and my hero complex, wanted to skin the cat in all different ways, wanted to make everybody happy, and I over compensated for a lot of things and said a lot of things that were taken out of context and probably stupid, because I was nervous, didn`t know what to do.

HAMMER: A lot of frustration.

WASHINGTON: A lot of frustration. And then the big problem was I was stupid enough to read the blogs on my IMDB message board for three months every night before I went to bed.

HAMMER: Lesson learned there.

WASHINGTON: Huge lesson learned. Hearing about I attacked -- knowing that that`s not what happened. So as soon as I heard that tabloid journalist come after us -- the first question was, what are the ladies wearing? Which was a wonderful question. And then, I didn`t know who this person was. I`m not going to say his name, but he came at us with the question.

He said before we go any further, I want to take about when Isaiah Washington -- the fight between T.R. and Isaiah. That`s what you didn`t hear. You didn`t hear the question. T.R. came up, and he laughed. He joked it off and he said, what fight? You know, trying to lighten it up, because we just won. Right? It`s a good time to celebrate.

HAMMER: No doubt.

WASHINGTON: And then there`s little nervous chuckles. And finally, he says, well, what do you mean? So, are you saying it`s all misreported? And Shonda said -- at the time, she says, yes, the reports were reported a little interesting, but it`s not exactly correct. So then he goes, so, are you telling me -- and he pointed at me. I`m on the book end. He pointed, he says, are you telling me Isaiah Washington did not cast a homophobic slur at T.R. Knight?

And then, you hear her say, seriously? Like, seriously? You know, like, are you going to continue on this line of questioning? And she said -- what you don`t see, she says, can we -- barefooted and happy, holding up her little Golden Globe like a beautiful little girl, the beautiful spirit that she is, can we just talk about -- we just won a Golden Globe. Can we just talk about that?

No go. Third time, no. Before we go any further, I want to talk about when Isaiah Washington cast a homophobic slur at T.R. Knight. Mid- brain.

HAMMER: Kaboom.



WASHINGTON: I went to the mike. But it wasn`t like someone said, oh god, you guys won the Golden Globe. You guy look beautiful. and then, out of nowhere I went to the mike. That didn`t happen like that. I look at that moment as myself falling on a grenade. So I`ll jump on the grenade with you guy if you just let us go. Let us have this moment. Take me, sacrifice me, but just let the team go. And that`s really where I was coming from, because I have a military background. Heat of the moments, you want me.

HAMMER: That`s what you do.

WASHINGTON: I`m the guy. You want me. Based on what you`ve reported, I wouldn`t like Isaiah Washington either, based on what you read. So I`m the guy you want, not her.

HAMMER: Tension began to unfold from various cast members. I want to take a look at what your former cast mate Katharine Heigl told "Access Hollywood." Let`s watch this.

HEIGL: I`m going to be really honest right now. He needs to just not speak in public, period. I`m sorry, that did not need to be said. I`m not OK with it.

HAMMER: Take me back to the first day back on the set after all of this happens. I imagine you could cut the tension with a knife.

WASHINGTON: After the Golden Globes?

HAMMER: After the Golden Globs things certainly shifted.

WASHINGTON: I didn`t want to go back. I didn`t want to go back to work. When all of the champagne wore off and all of the adrenaline came down and the reality hit me.

HAMMER: How were you feeling that morning when you woke up after that?

WASHINGTON: Then I called my then-manager at the time, Eric Nelson, and said, how do I go to work? I said, how do I do this? I said, I can`t do this. I can`t -- I can`t do this. And he says, I know, man, it`s tough. I said, because this is going to be misconstrued that I could fling this word out. I was -- I was floored.

And the weird thing was, it was like daggers in my heart was, crew members shaking my hand, hugging me, going congratulations on the Golden Globe win. It seemed like every step I took to get to Stage six to do my scene, I just -- it just was blinding. I couldn`t -- I couldn`t do it.

I fell apart. Rob was our director and I said I need a few minutes. I saw Sandra. I was unbelievably embarrassed that -- not that what I was trying to do was the wrong thing. But the fact that at the time what I was trying to do was unbelievable wrong thing. And that I embarrassed my team in trying to help my team, in my mind, before the world.

I was given an opportunity to kind of cry my eyes out. It was horrible because now everyone was given a memo, like don`t talk to him, don`t look at him, don`t say anything because he might -- we need to get him through this day. And I knew that.


ANDERSON: Isaiah did manage to get through the very first day back on set and said he felt like people had his back. But the worst was yet to come. Coming up, Isaiah gets emotional telling A.J. about the day he got the phone call that told him he was fired. Also this --


WASHINGTON: I attacked T.R. Patrick Dempsey came in and saved the day. That`s not what happened.


ANDERSON: Isaiah sets the record straight on what really did happen and why he says T.R. Knight is the one who should have been fired. This SHOWBIZ special report, Isaiah tells all, continues after this. Stay with us.



WASHINGTON: It felt like retaliation. It felt like not only are we going to let you go, push you out the door, but we`re going to put our foot up your butt one more time just for good measure.


ANDERSON: Strong words from Isaiah Washington, describing how he felt when he got fired from "Grey`s Anatomy." More on his candid take on the controversy is coming up. But first, as our SHOWBIZ special event continues, Isaiah tells A.J. Hammer he now has some other things in the works.


HAMMER: You`ve been busy. You`ve been busy shooting the movie, "The Least of These." You`ve wrapped your role on that, where you`re playing a priest, which is quite a departure from Dr. Burke. What drew you to this role?

WASHINGTON: Ironically, the piece is pretty much parallel in my life. But I didn`t really know that at the time. There`s a Catholic priest that disappears about two years, something has happened at the last Catholic school that he was at. And there`s rumors that he was maybe one of the priests that was accused of being one of the molesters of the boys in the school. But as you find out that he`s -- these are all fabrications.

He`s not guilty of that crime. But as he gets to this new school, there`s this mystique, this cloud over him. Ultimately, he`s very unconventional in his ways, kind of like "Dead Poet`s Society," gets in touch with the kids a different way than the other fathers, and in doing so, he realizes that there`s some other things going on in the school that are just not quite kosher.

HAMMER: Interesting.

WASHINGTON: And he pretty much becomes an investigator of a murder that takes place at the school.


ANDERSON: So, life goes on for Isaiah. He says this interview is the last time he will ever talk about the controversy over his gay slur.

Straight ahead, Isaiah talks about getting that phone call telling him he was fired. And why he says they fired the wrong cast member. Also, another burning question --


WASHINGTON: There were a lot of situations where people were not comfortable with my presence.

HAMMER: But do you think that played a role into your firing in.


ANDERSON: Does Isaiah think that racial discrimination was a factor in this whole mess? The answer, coming up. We are back with this SHOWBIZ special event, Isaiah tells all, after this.




ISAIAH WASHINGTON, ACTOR: I felt like I had been humiliated, chastised, and put in my place.


ANDERSON: "Isaiah Tells All!": Former "Grey`s Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington opening up about the phone call that changed everything for him, his apology, going to rehab for using a bad word, and why after this he will never speak about any of it again. Tonight the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special event "Isaiah Tells All!".

Welcome back to the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special event "Isaiah Tells All!"

It is 30 past the hour. I`m Brooke Anderson in New York. You`re watching TV`s most provocative entertainment news show.

Tonight Isaiah Washington as you`ve never heard him before. About the "Grey`s Anatomy" on-set feud, the gay slur and the backlash that got him fired. Here`s what he`s told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT so far. The argument with "Grey`s" co-star Patrick Dempsey was a misunderstanding and he and Dempsey made up right afterward. Washington also says he was referring to himself when he used a gay slur on set. And that "Grey`s" co-start T.R. Knight was not involved. And Washington vows that his interview with us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be the last time he speaks publicly about what happened.

Our special event continues now with Washington talking about the truth behind his apology and his stint in anger management rehab. Once again, here`s Isaiah with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s A.J. Hammer.


HAMMER: You were given an opportunity, it seemed, by the show, by ABC, for lack of a better word "contrition". You were told to apologize.

WASHINGTON: Which I did.

HAMMER: You did a public service announcement.

WASHINGTON: I struggle with their statement because there were certain things that I -- because I tried to resign twice. I wanted to quit in November, so I could come and do what I`m doing today.

HAMMER: So, they put the words before you, in terms of the apology.

WASHINGTON: Yeah, and sign off on it.

HAMMER: And said do this.

WASHINGTON: The first time I thought it was way too ambiguous, way too cold, way too detached. I`m like, look, I come out of New York. I`m a dancer. I auditioned for Alvin Ailey (ph) at one point. It was a horrible audition, but I tried nonetheless. He humored me. But, I said, this is a community that you can`t toy with.

HAMMER: You wanted to keep it real?

WASHINGTON: I need -- you need to let me go. No, you too articulate, you`ll talk too much. You`ll tell too much. Everything I`m telling now, they didn`t want McDreamy to be perceived as McNightmare. He`s not. We just had an argument. We`re human.

But they`re trying to protect the ship. But I think the political correctness kind of overwhelmed all of us. Everyone was trying to do their job. It`s just that because I had put myself out there, you know, with the allegedly, and the reportedly, "thing" and then I brought it up again. They said we`re going shut you down, you talk no more.

HAMMER: You figured out the wording, you got the apology done. You did a public service announcement for GLAD, Gays and Lesbians Against Defamation.

WASHINGTON: Which I was very much a part of.

HAMMER: And, Isaiah, and I think this was the thing that struck a lot of people they sent you off to --

WASHINGTON: Executive counseling.

HAMMER: Rehab -- but as it was called, rehab. Can you explain to us, you say executive counseling. What was that in? It was for using a politically incorrect term and a hateful and terrible word that, yes, you shouldn`t have used in any context.

WASHINGTON: Shouldn`t have used. Got it.

HAMMER: But they sent you to rehab. What was that?

WASHINGTON: I can only say this, A.J., it was good for me on one hand because it got me a chance to collect myself, my thoughts, and understand that what we have embarked on -- what I have embarked on, at this juncture in my life. But it didn`t help me as much as it should have because everyone that talked me, tested me, and whatever, and yoga, and Tai Chi, three square meals, and getting in my head, they found out there`s nothing wrong with you. And with something like that, you need to be there for at lest a minimum of 28 days.

HAMMER: Right.

WASHINGTON: It become almost like a strange kind of Stockholm syndrome, where it seemed like the people who were asking me questions were more interested in going to the set and talking to the rest of the cast. There`s some other dysfunction going on, there are some other issues. It doesn`t just lie with you.

We do a lot in a short amount of time. It`s a tough show. Pressure of a No. 1 scripted, rated show. Pressure like even if you are aware of it, you`re not really aware of it. Everyone`s busting their behinds to trying to give you the best they can give you. There`s not time for outlets, going to the dentist, no days off -- and if there is, the schedule changes and you`re right back there on deck, going 14 hours again. It`s a tough, tough show.

I`ve got say it, publicly, and in all honesty, I won`t miss it. I won`t miss it. I`ll miss Shanda Rhimes` writing, I`ll miss working with the wonderful team and crew, but I won`t miss that schedule.

HAMMER: In terms of an environment.

WASHINGTON: I won`t miss that environment, because it`s tough on everyone.

HAMMER: So, Isaiah, you did everything they asked?


HAMMER: And it was seemed look a mountain of things.


HAMMER: As I say, you did all of that.

WASHINGTON: And I kept my mouth shut.

HAMMER: And you kept your mouth shut. Now we know there was this gag order in place. Then you get a call from the executive producer Shanda Rhimes and she says, Isaiah, we`re not having you back on the show. Tell me what was going through your mind when you got that phone call.

WASHINGTON: June 7th, yeah. I was shocked. And then I -- I got angry because I felt like if -- almost like a six months of my life it felt like -- you blew it once and we understood why you blew it, and kind of -- it happens -- misreported, you took the heat for three months. But you blew it again, after we resolved it for you, and you didn`t trust us.

You tried to defend yourself so you`re on your own. But we`re not going to tell you that, even though you tried to resign twice. We`re going to let you feel what we felt for six months, and then we`ll do it quietly and neatly by not renewing our option. I felt like I had been humiliated, chastised, and put in my place.

But on June 7th, it felt like retaliation to me. It felt like not only we`re going to let you go, push you out the door, but we`re going to put our foot up your butt one more time just for good measure. And that, I said, OK, I own up to everything else, but I tried to leave, and do what I`m doing now, twice. So we wouldn`t get to this point. I could have an opportunity to somewhat clear the record. You never set the record straight, at least let the world know what my thought processes were and where I was really coming from as a team player, and completely speak out against everything that was written about me.

But I`ll get conversation from the executives saying well, maybe I should take shares in the Weather Media (ph), that owns "US Weekly." You know? Disney at one point owned, "US Weekly". They bought 50 percent of the stakes back for a $300 million check in August. I have shares in this. I`m thinking company man, that`s the class I want to win. Who doesn`t want to be on a team that`s not winning? I`m a winner.

So, if we got a problem, then I`ll take a hit for the team. OK, we can move forward and heal and move forward, but apparently the decision was made. I`m just saying what it felt like. And everyone obviously did what they had to do, but I know Shanda and Bessie Vears (ph) fought for me. They fought for me, she said, 10 minutes up to the point where she made the phone call. And said this not coming from my cast mates, including T.R., this is coming from up top.

HAMMER: Certainly, since you have been allowed to talk about it, you have said some things deemed by some people as controversial, "The Houston Chronicle" reporting that you think that T.R. Knight should have been the one fired.

WASHINGTON: Based on the conversation he had with me about Patrick, yes. Because I think to pull it in the direction -- a lot of people didn`t understand why October 19th happened, and people -- a lot of -- I know, I can assume (ph), that the public relations people didn`t want him to come out, and I think a lot of people found it odd that he would use this time, on the heels of this other controversy between Patrick and I, to come out. It was like it just moved from one big explosion to another explosion. And with the misreporting in the tabloids, that "National Enquirer" did, and the "New York Post" and the Associated Press, that it was no longer "allegedly" or "reportedly", it was fact. I attacked T.R., Patrick Dempsey came in and saved the day. That`s not what happened. It`s not what happened. It`s really horrible. I`m sad and after today I will shut up.

HAMMER: This is it?

WASHINGTON: I`m not talking about it ever again.


ANDERSON: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has reached tout ABC and to "Grey`s" co- star T.R. Knight for comment on these latest claims. ABC said, "No comment."

Well, did racial discrimination have anything to do with Isaiah getting fired? It`s a topic that came up in the interview and Isaiah had some very interesting things to say about it.


WASHINGTON: There were a lot of situations where people were not comfortable with my presence.

HAMMER: But do you think that played a role into your firing?


ANDERSON: Straight ahead, Isaiah`s response to whether race was a factor.

And Isaiah has at least one Hollywood heavyweight on his side. Coming up, how Bruce Willis is sticking up for him and Isaiah`s react as the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special event "Isaiah Tells All!" continues.



WASHINGTON: I apologized to everyone. What more could I possibly do. How bad am I supposed to feel? Am I supposed to lay down and die?


ANDERSON: A clearly frustrated Isaiah Washington revealing to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT how frustrated he was as the controversy over his gay slur swirled around him.

Welcome back to the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special event "Isaiah Tells All!" I`m Brooke Anderson in New York.

For the days and months after Isaiah Washington was involved in the feud on the set of "Grey`s Anatomy" he says he was under a gag order, by the show, not to speak about the incident. Later, after getting fired he made comments to "Newsweek" that suggested racism might have had something to do with what happened to him. Isaiah`s interview with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s A.J. Hammer continues now, as he clears the air about what he really meant to say.


HAMMER: You have claimed that racism was involved in the decision. Let me read what you told This is the direct quote.


HAMMER: "Well, it didn`t help me on the set I was a black man who wasn`t a mush" -- I`m sorry -- "a mush-mouthed negro walking around with his with heads in his hands all the time. I didn`t speak like I just left the plantation and that can be a problem for people, some time."

First of all, did you say that?

WASHINGTON: You know what? If I did, she left out the part with the twirling of the mustache with the toungue in cheek laughter, kind of thing. It`s like you know, this is thrown away, because she sat in my trailer for more than an hour. They were knocking on my door, trying to, trying to get me back to the set. So, if that`s what she chooses to illuminate, I can`t deny, or confirm, that I said it exactly like that, because she has the tape recorder. So, I`m not going to put myself in that position.

HAMMER: Then to clarify?

WASHINGTON: But to clarify, is saying that, yes, I did at many times feel like it was a little bizarre in 2005 -- 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, to be on the set and be around a lot of people that was underexposed, still kind of like, you know, like clutch their purses even though I`m playing a character. I`m not on the elevator, I`m not going to mug you or anything. But there were a lot of situations where people were not comfortable with my presence.

HAMMER: But do you think that played a role into your firing?

WASHINGTON: I can`t say that, A.J. And I`m not going say that.


WASHINGTON: I am not going to be naive and say that it`s all racist. I`m not going to be some kind of hyper over reactive kind of black person who says it`s all "the man." No, I don`t believe that. I have worked in this town -- in this business for 21 years -- successfully, quietly. I own a lot of property because of it, because I know how it works. But I can`t put it all on racism. I refuse to racialize the situation.

But if the facts look like certain people of color, like ABC, then that`s some explaining that Steven Furston (ph) has to do, that`s not on me. This thing has a lot to do with politics, good or bad, however you feel about it, dignity, honor, ego, all right? And people feeling that they have to do what they have to do to survive and move the team on.

HAMMER: Do you feel, as far as moving the team on, there are a lot of people who would say it just created -- regardless of the contrition, regardless of everything you did, you did everything you were asked to do - - regardless of all of that -- it just created this impossible situation that really the only way to move on for it, were to cut ties, have a nice day, and we need to do our show?

WASHINGTON: That can be the assessment. But I know for a fact the ratings were not affected. As a matter of fact, the ratings went up. I know bottom line wasn`t affected. I talked to executives, they returned my phone calls within 15 minutes and said, the bottom line wasn`t affected. The show was not being hurt.

So if they`re really, really concerned about being politically correct, why didn`t they address it earlier? When I wanted to, you know, address it. Why didn`t it the word get addressed much sooner? I think it`s far too much, too late. And I`m happy with it because I`ve moved on. They`ve made their decision, and I`m relieved actually, because I get to say my piece, apologize.

And like I said, I regret that no one`s talking about Shanda Rhimes making history -- I don`t know if there`s any woman, let alone an African- American woman that has ever won a Golden Globe on a drama TV series, in the history of television. I even asked some of the public relations people, why don`t they illuminate that? Why does it have to be that I marred and destroyed this evening, ruined this great night, after I have apologized to Jenny Kuney (ph) to Steven Furston (ph), and Mike Pedowitz (ph).

I have apologized to everyone. I mean what more could I possibly do? How bad am I supposed to feel? Am I supposed to lay down and die? That`s just not who I am. And I don`t know if that`s appropriate in our country in 2007, that if you go about the business of seeking forgiveness -- and I`m not saying that I want my job back, because I don`t, I`m sorry people, but I don`t. I`ve gave ABC and Burke (ph) everything I had, and more.

The day my wife was having my daughter I didn`t tell anybody until Sandra, oh, overheard me having a conversation and breathing with my wife, because I didn`t want to interrupt production, because I knew they were having a hard time getting through the timing and the production.

So I didn`t tell anyone that my own daughter was being born. That`s how committed I was to the show. So, now that that has been severed, there`s no more commitment to the show, there`s no more animus -- other than disappointment of how it was handled.

Because I asked to speak out like this in January. I asked them to let me go. Stay. No, we`ve got to protect the brand, we`ve got to protect the show. Just shut up. Don`t talk. We`ll take care of you. We`ll take care of you.

So, yeah, how would you feel? After six months of not being able to tell your side whether people agree with it, or not? Not having your day in court, understanding that what I did was inappropriate for a lot of people, you know? No matter what the context. I got that. And I get that.

Let`s not talk about the F word. It`s not a good word. Thank God, how it`s used to really promote the value of understanding that that`s this word`s gotta stop, just like the N word and many, many other words got to go away.

HAMMER: Do you think on a more general level, do you think, as a lot of people would still suggest racism is a huge problem in Hollywood?

WASHINGTON: Again, I will say this, if there are people out there that look at this incident, in hindsight, and want to surmise or make that assessment that it has racial overtones, then that is what they`re going to do. All I`m saying is, is while I was there I experienced some things where people felt like I was threatening because of just me being there. I could come to work and smile, and be happy, and I can be accused of being on drugs. It happened to me, and I had to pull that person aside.

You know in it was so vitriolic at one point, one executive producer, where I had to threaten to get that person to get a urine test, because I wanted to prove that I wasn`t on drugs. Why do I have to be in an environment where I have to prove that I`m not on drugs? You know that I`m manic depressive or that I`m this? Why every day if I sit in a room quiet and learning my lines and I`m focused, I`m angry? I`m just trying to do my job.

So there are many situations that I -- that surrounds the fact we don`t have enough diversity in casting, and crew. We`re diverse in our cast, but that didn`t reflect completely in percentages in terms of you know, crew and administration, and executives, that are running these organizations. So I think no one is really, really trying to hurt anyone.


ANDERSON: In January after Isaiah`s outburst backstage at Golden Globes ABC issued this statement: "We dealt with original situation in October and thought the issue resolved. Therefore, we are greatly display had Mr. Washington chose to use such inappropriate language at the Golden Globes. Language that he, himself, deemed unfortunate in his previous public apology. We take this situation very seriously."

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT called ABC again, after we interviewed Isaiah, for reaction to what he told us. And this time, they said, no comment.

Isaiah, though, has at least one Hollywood heavyweight on his side. Straight ahead, how Bruce Willis is sticking up for him. And Isaiah`s reaction, that, as the SHOWBIZ special event `Isaiah Tells All!" continues. Keep it right here.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special event `Isaiah Tells All!" Tonight, Isaiah Washington`s side of the story about the onset feud that cost him his job. Once again, Isaiah with A.J. Hammer.


WASHINGTON: There`s nothing for me to be angry. Nothing for me to be belligerent about, nothing for me to be arrogant about. I`m sitting at the top of my game on a No. 1 scripted show. And get this, I`m not working nearly as much as the rest of the cast. But yet, my performance is resonating just as high as my peers. And I`m still busy dealing with my foundation, raising my three kids, you know, golfing? I`m sitting on the top of the world.

Guess what? I`m going to continue to be sitting on the top of the world coming off the film, "The Least of These", and other opportunities that are coming my way, because there are a lot of people out there that know that I`m an actor. And I`m passionate about my work. I`m not saying I`m easy to get along with when it comes to dialogue in the script. I`ll take a good script that you write, and beat you over the head with it, metaphorically speaking, because I want it to be better.

HAMMER: Here`s something Bruce Willis told "Time" magazine, quote, "I hate to think of a time you can get fired from your job because of what you say. He didn`t punch anyone. I think we`ll think differently with hindsight."

So, what do you think? When we get past this, now that you`ve been able to tell your side, speak your piece, with hindsight, Isaiah, do you we will look differently at this entire incident?

WASHINGTON: I would like to think that, over time, there is still forgiveness in this country. And I said it before, you know, I just had an experience in 22 days of shooting a major motion picture, and a lot of people, all walks of life, all races, genders, sexual orientations came up to me with hugs and kisses and I`ve got more gifts on that show, than I`ve gotten anywhere on any production, because it starts from the top.

You know, leadership starts from the top. If you`re being positive and hard working leading by example, like I`m trying to do with all of the organizations, Minority AIDS Projects, NAACP, L.A. Food Bank. You can go to, you can really find out who Isaiah is before "Grey`s Anatomy." It`s that leadership starts at the top. I feel that -- all the way at the top if this country, if there`s intolerance, or if there`s indifference, OK? Which is the opposite of love, then you will have a lot of animus, you`ll have a lot of people ready to -- you know, like a tea kettle ready to whistle and ready to blow, because they`re not getting what they need. What they need is respect, bottom line.

HAMMER: Isaiah Washington, thank you so much. Best of luck, man.

WASHINGTON: Thank you.


ANDERSON: That`s it for this SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special event. If you missed any part of our explosive interview with Isaiah Washington, you can watch it online at

I`m Brooke Anderson in New York. "Glenn Beck" is next after the latest headlines from CNN "Headline News".