Isaiah Washington Gets 'Bionic'

New NBC boss Ben Silverman knows how to make an entrance.

Silverman announced Monday at the Television Critics Association press tour that former "Grey's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington, who was famously let go from that series, will have a recurring part on "Bionic Woman" in the fall. He'll appear in five of the show's first six episodes, and has also signed a development deal for an action series project with Universal Media Studios.

"He's a wonderful actor ... and he became available," Silverman said, drawing laughter from the assembled reporters. "I started talking to him before he was available. ... I didn't have any idea -- when he told me he was available, I was like 'What? I don't understand. You're a star on a huge TV show.' I didn't quite understand what was going on there."

What was going on was that Washington was let go from "Grey's Anatomy" in June, following several months of controversy of his alleged use of a homophobic slur toward castmate T.R. Knight. The initial incident, which involved an on-set argument with co-star Patrick Dempsey, passed without much incident, but Washington attracted a media firestorm when he repeated the word at the Golden Globes.

That led to protests both from within the show and without, with several gay and lesbian groups demanding he apologize. He did that, and also sought counseling and taped a PSA about the power words can have.

Following a finale in which his character, Dr. Preston Burke, left his fiancee (Sandra Oh) at the altar, his contract wasn't picked up. Washington has given numerous interviews since then defending himself, saying in part Dempsey's lateness to the set provoked him. He also told Larry King earlier this month that he didn't intend the word "faggot" as an anti-gay slur but to designate "someone who is being weak."

Silverman believes that once they see Washington on "Bionic Woman," viewers will be able to put the controversy behind them and just enjoy his character, who's involved with the organization that gives Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan) her bionic parts and may have a plan of his own for her.

"The bottom line is he's a wonderful actor, and we think inside 'Bionic Woman,' the character they've created for him is really strong and one he'll do a great job with," Silverman says. "That's what I think people will respond to, and we're excited to see it come to fruition."