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James Hibberd

No Gay Kiss for 'Bionic' Isaiah

July 17, 2007 12:19 PM

Producers for “Bionic Woman” grimly stayed on their talking points after NBC co-chair Ben Silverman saddled their female-empowering sci-fi drama with gay-unempowering actor Isaiah Washington.

“We believe in second chances,” said executive producer Jason Smilovic. “When somebody does something wrong and you have a systemic problem, the best way to change that problem is not by casting them outside the system. It's by allowing them to make amends. So rather than excommunicate somebody, we felt it was better to give him a second chance.”

When asked if Washington would have been hired if he was a white actor who used the n-word, Smilovic didn’t take the bait. “That’s a theoretical question that I really can’t answer,” he said.

Asked if hiring Washington is could be perceived as disrespectful to the gay community, Smilovic said, “Absolutely not. … We embrace the gay community. … We are hoping that they are going to watch the show. … We are in no way making any judgments about what was
said. … This is about making great entertainment, and we found a great actor to do that.

One critic suggested, since producers are interested in allowing Washington to “make amends,” scripting a gay kiss for his character. Smilovic rejected the idea as “breaking down the third, fourth and fifth wall of television.”

Producers also took the opportunity to potentially alienate another interest group by confirming, as posted below, that Jamie Summers' hearing-impaired sister will no longer be hearing-impaired. She will now be a hacker.

Producers also defending hiring another actor on the show: lead Michelle Ryan, who certainly looks the part of Jamie Summers, but some have raised the question whether villain Katee Sackhoff might have been a better choice.

“I’m not worried about Michelle Ryan,” said “Bionic” executive producer David Eick, when a critic suggested Sackhoff upstaged his lead. “Katee’s a pure ensemble player. … There’s a real sense in the pilot of [the appeal] being 50-50.”


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Comments (7)


I think its pretty funny that someone ACTUALLY thought that makeing Washington do a gay kiss would make this all better. It's like they were fishing for something to make the story interesting.


I think its pretty funny that someone ACTUALLY thought that makeing Washington do a gay kiss would make this all better. It's like they were fishing for something to make the story interesting.


Leslie, have you ever had a strange feeling of deja vu?


I think it is time for people to be able to speak, honestly, about an issue without some narrow mind defineing who one is. I am old enough to know what Isaiah Washington said had nothing to do with one's sexuality! He was dealing with a behavior of one being weak or fearful, nothing more!

I think it's time for good old fashion history lessons to be taught about the orgin of words and situations. I respect Mr. Washington and, I think, based upon his public persona, he is a nice man.



the boss:

I think NBC is making a big mistake but I'm in Detroit &part of the boycott of NBC so I won't see him any way is this boycott going on any place other then union towns?? I sure know the UAW is still must miss tv


The Isaiah Washington thing was blown out of proportion perhaps. And it definitely is yesterday's news. I'm a gay man and I don't feel any animosity towards the guy. If I had to pay a dime for everytime I've used the word "fag," I'd be a poor man.

But in that same breath, I think the Don Imus thing was blown out of proportion. CBS radio was screwed up in firing him over pressure from racist, homophobic, anti semitic idiots like Al Sharpton.

AND I think Michael Richards should be allowed to have his career and life back. If Washington can be excused for calling someone the f-word, then Richards can be excused for calling some rude audience members the n-word.

C. Rodgers:

Have you ever been called a n_ _ _ _ _? Well I have. I almost became a participant in the history of LYNCHINGS. It was one of the most frightening experiences I have ever LIVED through. Memories and pain get logged very deep within a person's soul. As the saying goes, "You can forgive, but you never forget." One must forgive or else you become bitter and stuck in hate and that's the only reason I forced myself to utter the words, "I forgive them for what they almost had the opportunity to do to me."

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