Actor Isaiah Washington has been booted from Grey's Anatomy, one of TV's hottest shows, U.S. broadcaster ABC announced Thursday.


Grey's Anatomy co-stars T.R. Knight, left, and Isaiah Washington pose together after the Emmy Awards in August 2006. Washington has been dropped from the hit medical drama. ((Matt Sayles/Associated Press))

ABC Television Studios, which produces the award-winning medical drama about the complicated relationships among a Seattle hospital's surgeons, announced that the actor's contract option was not renewed for next season.

Washington first drew condemnation last year when it emerged that he used an anti-gay epithet to describe co-star T.R. Knight on-set.

Knight, who had not previously revealed his sexual orientation,publicly revealed himself to begay shortly afterward.

Washington caused further controversy when, backstage at the Golden Globe Awards in January, he denied he had used the epithet in the first place.

Actress Katherine Heigl, another Grey's Anatomy co-star, publicly denounced him for his denial. He was also heavily criticized by the gay and lesbian community, and officially rebuked by ABC.

Washington subsequently issued a public apology, said he was pursuing therapy and met with gay rights groups. He also filmed a public service announcement warning about how hurtful words can be.

Whether Washington would return to the show appeared up in the air at the end of the Grey's Anatomy season finale in May, as his character, Dr. Preston Burke, strides away from the altar and decides at the last minute against marrying his fiancée, played by Canadian actress Sandra Oh.

In one of the episode's final scenes, Oh's character reveals that Burke has cleared his most treasured belongings from their shared home.

In May, Washington's publicist, Howard Bragman, said the actorplanned to spend the summer pursuing charity work in Sierra Leone, work on an independent film and avoid worrying about the show.

On Thursday, Bragman released a statement on behalf of Washington that said simply: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more."

With files from the Associated Press