Scoop: Timing of Kate’s Comedy Bit Not Her Fault

Other Scoops: Isaiah Washington's work struggles and Couple's Retreat

By Courtney Hazlett
|  Thursday, Oct 8, 2009  |  Updated 9:15 PM PDT
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Twist of Kate: Say Goodbye to "Kate Plus 8"

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Kate Gosselin had no idea what would happen this week when she taped her bit for "Leno"

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With “hair that looks like she fights crime in space,” Kate Gosselin starred in one of the funnier sketches Jay Leno’s aired since the start of “The Jay Leno Show.”

In the bit, titled “MILF Meltdown,” Gosselin treats unruly paparazzi like her own kids, loading them into the car and sending some to time out until they’re ready to behave.

Gamely being in on the joke tends to be good publicity, but the timing of this Oct. 7 sketch was unfortunate. The preceding days involved a dispute over whether estranged husband Jon Gosselin drained their bank account, weepy television interviews about not having enough money to pay her bills, and allegations that Kate wouldn’t let Jon see their twin daughters on their birthday.

Not exactly the best time to have a jocular sketch poking fun at parenting skills hit the air.

But at least there's this: “MILF Meltdown” represents an innocent instance of bad timing that really isn’t anyone’s fault. Reps for “The Jay Leno Show” confirm that the taping took place on the show’s Burbank lot on Aug. 24, and it’s safe to say Gosselin had no idea then what this week would hold.

Isaiah Washington still struggling for work
Cast your mind back to Oct. 9, 2006. That's when Patrick Dempsey and Isaiah Washington got in an argument on the set of "Grey's Anatomy," and at some point, Washington used a homophobic slur directed toward then-co-star T.R. Knight.

The incident leaked to the press, and in the following weeks, Knight disclosed his homosexuality, and Washington was fired from the show. Shortly after, Washington split the bill with ABC for a stint in an “executive counseling program.”

That might have helped him personally, but professionally, three years later, Washington doesn’t seem to have recovered from the incident. Since leaving “Grey’s” he’s appeared in an episode of “The Cleaner,” (now canceled) and in five episodes of “Bionic Woman” (which was also canceled).

Several actors who’ve worked with Washington say that the dearth of work isn’t necessarily the result of the slur and the ensuing fall-out, but that the actor is just plain difficult to work with.

“Before ‘Grey’s’ he had a reputation of being hard to work with on set, and regardless of what he said, that impression remains unchanged,” said one of those actors.

Crisis expert Mike Sitrick agrees the slur might not have everything to do with Washington’s tepid work success in the least three years, but says Washington hasn’t taken all the steps necessary for public forgiveness.

“Sensitivity rehab to prove what you said is not who you are is not enough,” said Sitrick. “If it’s an unfortunate comment that reflects his belief at the time, you can say that, but you have to demonstrate that belief has changed. If he got involved in AIDS projects or other projects with reach in the gay community, he could demonstrate the comment is not who he is.”

It’s not too late for Washington to turn things around, though.

“There are degrees of infractions or problems and some are much more forgivable in the public’s mind than others, it’s hard to be able to gauge these things,” said Sitrick. “But no, it’s not too late.” 

Promising box-office ‘Retreat’
The only new wide release in theaters this weekend is “Couples Retreat,” which stars Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Kristin Davis and Kristen Bell. The buzz surrounding the comedy isn’t great, but that shouldn’t hurt the box office tally this weekend.

First, the PG-13 rating will help draw a wide range of moviegoers. And inevitably, just when the public seems tired of Vince Vaughn, he comes out with something like “Four Christmases,” which made more than $120 million domestically.

So “Couples Retreat” ought to have a solid weekend, and it will beat out last week’s No. 1, “Zombieland.”

Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter @courtneyatmsnbc

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