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Isaiah070608.jpgDr. Burke has been asked to scrub out of “Grey’s Anatomy” for good. Entertainment Weekly reports that ABC Studios will not renew Isaiah Washington’s contract with the hit show, due to what they call “a pattern of suspicious behavior by Washington that, according to press reports, goes back as far as 1997 on the set of the TV show ‘High Incident.'”
Last fall, Washington reportedly referred to co-star T.R. Knight (who was not “out” at the time) with an anti-gay slur and reportedly got into fisticuffs with McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey, who was coming to Knight’s defense. Axes seemed buried until Washington denied to the press at the Golden Globes that the incident had occurred even after making an apologetic statement.
And while Washington entered a rehabilitation program, taped a public service announcement for GLAAD and thanked his co-star Katherine Heigl for letting him have it publicly, that still wasn’t enough to keep his Dr. Burke on staff at Seattle Grace.
Many were calling for Washington’s ouster immediately following the slur, including gossip maven Perez Hilton, and it would seem that the decision to terminate the actor’s contract should have followed more closely on the heels of the incident. Certainly, this was a difficult and dynamic decision for the production company, but the fact that the season finale wrapped up in such a way that either Knight’s or Washington’s character could be written off seems a bit manipulative, not only to the audience (heck, that’s what cliffhangers do!), but to Washington as well.
While I am in no way defending Washington’s actions, it seems a bit disingenuous of the production company to take this long to dismiss him. He went to rehab, he’s working with GLAAD, even Heigl accepted his apology. Was he told he could stay if he attended rehab? Who knows. Maybe they were trying to work it out, but one party felt they could no longer work with Washington; or maybe he was simply becoming a huge insurance liability. Maybe Knight’s loveable George brings in better ratings than the inscrutable Burke.
Regardless, it seems that the drama off-set will continue to outpace the drama on-screen. Washington released a statement, a la Peter Finch in “Network,” saying “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Stay tuned.

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