The inevitable Isaiah Washington question came up Thursday afternoon when Shonda Rhimes and the cast and crew of Private Practice appeared at press tour.
The question put to Rhimes was this: Earlier in the tour, NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman said he talked to Washington — who, you may have heard, will have a recurring part on NBC’s Bionic Woman in the fall — "before he was available" and snatched him up after his departure from Grey’s Anatomy, which Rhimes also runs. Did she know about that, and what’s her reaction to him turning around so quickly to be on another show?
(Bionic Woman, incidentally, will air opposite Private Practice at 9 p.m. ET Wednesdays in the fall.)
The short answer to the first part of the question: No, she wasn’t aware anyone was talking to Washington. And as her boss, ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson, has decided not to make a fuss about it, that’s probably that.
And her reaction to Washington being hired so quickly?
"I guess I don’t have a reaction," she says. "I hope he does well on that show and that show does well — just not as well as Private Practice."
Rhimes also talked a little about Grey’s during the session, fielding questions about some of the negative fan reaction to the show’s comparatively dark tone at the end of last season, with Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) losing several family members, Cristina (Sandra Oh) being left at the altar and George (T.R. Knight) and Izzie (Katherine Heigl) stepping toward a possibly doomed romance.
She has heard and read those concerns, but she’s satisfied with the road she took. "I feel like the characters are moving in the direction they’re moving," she says. "Creatively we moved in the direction we wanted to move.
"I talk with [Lost executive producer] Damon Lindelof a lot, and he’s told me that a backlash is something that happens with any show. You’re not going to be perfect all the time. … We just hope they’ll watch these characters grow and change."