LOS ANGELES – Isaiah Washington, bouncing back from his "Grey's Anatomy" firing with a role on a new NBC drama and prospects for his own network series, said Monday he's grateful for an unexpected second chance.
"I'm humbled by this opportunity," Washington told The Associated Press, shortly before NBC announced he would be joining its new series "Bionic Woman" for a five-episode arc. Washington and NBC Universal Studios also are developing an action series.
He said his dismissal from ABC's hit medical show after his repeated use of an anti-gay slur was "an unfortunate misunderstanding for everyone" that he was eager to move past.
"What I always wanted to put at the forefront is my creativity, that thing I want to do, which is act," Washington said.
He was brought to NBC by Ben Silverman, the recently appointed co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. It was a comment to a mutual friend that led to a meeting with Silverman just after Washington lost his ABC job, he said.
Silverman, recalling their June 7 get-together, said he was surprised to learn Washington had just been fired.
"`Gosh, it would great to get him, get a great actor on our air,"' Silverman recalled thinking. "It's like A-Rod leaving the Yankees in midseason."
Asked if he was concerned that Washington was bringing baggage to NBC, Silverman said he wasn't. The focus will be on the actor's work and his contribution to "Bionic Woman," which Silverman described as "one of our most important shows."
"I really thought about him as an actor. ... I feel like he's a wonderful actor and everyone deserves a second chance," he told The AP.
Washington's hiring at General Electric Co.-owned NBC had an unlikely genesis.
The day that Washington learned ABC was not picking up his option for "Grey's Anatomy," he and the Ghanian-born fashion designer Oswald Boateng were discussing an African aid event. When Boateng learned of his situation, the designer called his pal Silverman, Washington said.
Silverman invited them to join him at a party at a Beverly Hills restaurant. The two enjoyed a friendly evening, the actor said.
"`You're not just going to be golfing, reading books. You're coming to NBC,"' Washington said the executive told him.
Washington assumed Silverman was just being kind. "I'm gonna go home and cry in my bed," he recalled thinking. But the next day he got a call from his agent saying that Silverman wanted him to be part of NBC.
On "Bionic Woman," based on the 1970s show, Washington will play "a mysterious person who is brought into the enigmatic scientific organization" responsible for creating bionic Jamie Sommers (Michelle Ryan), according to NBC.
NBC and its studio also are developing what was described as an "action-series project" with Washington that is based on an idea of his.
Washington was booted from his role as a surgeon on "Grey's Anatomy" after he used an anti-gay epithet backstage at the Golden Globe Awards in January while denying he'd used it previously on the set against cast mate T.R. Knight.
He publicly apologized and tried to make amends by meeting with gay-rights organizations and filming a public-service announcement calling for tolerance.
In subsequent interviews, Washington has said he was trying to address problems of cast tardiness when he got into a tiff with co-star Patrick Dempsey.
He's learned from the experience, he said, including "how you deal with certain stresses."
"If there are issues with other actors, it's not my problem. I'm not a hero, baby sitter, big brother. I'm the employee, too," Washington said.
As for Walt Disney Co.-owned ABC and Knight, "That chapter is closed. I wish them well," Washington said.