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Greg’s Celebrity Encounters: Isaiah Washington

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Thankfully, I only covered the American Music Awards once – in fall of 2007 – and it was very humbling. Everyone was making a fuss over this young girl on the red carpet and I asked the guy standing in front of me who she was. She was Miley Cyrus. He was Billy Ray Cyrus – her dad! To his credit, he did not blink or act insulted. He just answered the question.

Anyway, I did recognize another celebrity on the red carpet that night – Isaiah Washington – who was making what I believe was his first public appearance since an infamous on-set scrap on the set of Grey’s Anatomy that eventually cost him his job. You THINK I wanted to talk to him? ”

Here’s what went down:

Isaiah! Isaiah! A word?” He walks over, accompanied by his lovely wife and a nervous publicist.

In case you’d been hiding under a rock, Washington and Patrick Dempsey had a verbal and physical altercation on the set of the show last month when Washington told Dempsey he wasn’t his little “faggot” like another one of their cast members.

Speculation grew over who he was talking about. Then, a few days later, co-star T.R. Knight released a statement to People.com saying that in light of all the questions swirling about, he wanted to confirm that he is gay.

Washington issued an apology shortly after so I asked the actor about it and here is our exchange:

Q: Is everything back to normal on the set? Your publicist is saying, ‘Don’t ask!’
ISAIAH: (laughs). Everything was back to normal four weeks ago five minutes after it happened but the media chose to do what they felt they had to do. Patrick and I look at it now and say, ‘Wow. Great. Now we know we’re the number one show in America (laughs).

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Q: How are things between you and T.R. Knight? (the publicist is now making a violent finger across the neck sign, eyes bugged out. She wants to kill me).
ISAIAH: T.R. is fine. T.R. wasn’t even on the set when we had the argument, he was nowhere around.
Q: You guys had a great on-screen relationship.
ISAIAH: We still do, we still do. I don’t know what it’s going to take for the media or the people to start believing otherwise. The media is going to have to start writing some positive things all over again. My family on Grey’s Anatomy, we spend a lot of hours together and we’re happy, our producers are happy, ABC is happy and if they weren’t, I wouldn’t be on the set, that’s the bottom line.
Q: Are you proud of T.R. and the way he did handle the situation with his statement?

ISAIAH: T.R., the thing about T.R., is T.R. has been gay for a long time (laughs). I think it was a mere coincidence that it came out the way it came out. But we all love T.R. We all know who T.R. is and T.R. knows who T.R. is trust me, T.R. would never be a victim or victimized by anyone under any circumstances and if I saw it or heard it, i would be the first one jumping into the fray to make sure he would be protected from something like that. That’s my family, that’s all i can say to that.

Postscript: Of course, this was not the end of the story and I wondered even then if Isaiah was really being honest with me. A recent interview T.R. Knight did with Entertainment Weekly did seemed to indicate things were very strained after the incident. T.R. left the show at the end of last season, three years before the end of his contract. Washington appeared in NBC’s short-lived Bionic Woman series and has since done an episode of A&E’s The Cleaner and two films.

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