The recently announced decision to hire actor Isaiah Washington for a role in the remake of the cyborg NBC series Bionic Woman came under fire by reporters at this week’s Television Critics Association press tour, but producers apparently were already prepared for the onslaught.
Washington was recently fired from the ABC series Greys Anatomy for making homophobic slurs regarding a co-star on the show.
We believe in second chances, executive producer Jason Smilovic told reporters. The way to change a problem … rather than excommunicate somebody, is to allow them to make amends.
This led to one critic suggesting that they script a gay kiss for his yet-to-be-named character. Smilovic, however, rejected the idea, saying it would break down the third, fourth and fifth wall of television.
When asked if Washington would have been hired if he was a white actor who used a racial slur, Smilovic was quick to sidestep the question with a Thats a theoretical question that I really cant answer.”
Producers for “Bionic Woman” maintain that hiring Washington is not an insult to potential gay and lesbian viewers.
We embrace the gay community, Smilovic said. We hope they will embrace the show. : We are in no way making any judgments about what was said. : This is about making great entertainment.
The hiring of Washington is not the only concern journalists, critics and potential fans have about Bionic Woman. Many believe that series star Michelle Ryan could be upstaged by recurring guest actress Katee Sackhoff — better known for playing Starbuck in “Battlestar Galactica,” and that maybe the new Jamie Summers was miscast.
Im not worried about Michelle Ryan, said executive producer David Eick, who also works with Sackhoff on BSG. Katees a pure ensemble player. : Theres a real sense in the pilot of [the appeal] being 50-50.
Finally, Jamie Summers’ hearing-impaired sister will no longer be hearing-impaired, confirming earlier reports from last month. Instead, she will now be a hacker with impeccable hearing.
Bionic Woman will air on NBC beginning Sept. 26.
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