A surprise reunion for Isaiah Washington and his former Grey’s Anatomy costars James Pickens, Jr. and Chandra Wilson took place Saturday at an event for a good cause.
The actor, who was let go from the ABC hit in June, unexpectedly showed up at Kiki Shepard’s 5th Annual Celebrity Bowling Challenge to “Bowl a Strike for Sickle Cell Disease” at the PINZ Entertainment Center in Studio City, Calif.
Washington, who seemed in good spirits, first casually greeted Pickens with a pat on the back before the two got to chatting, then gave Wilson a hearty hug and kiss hello.
Carrying an unlit cigar, Washington opted not to bowl and instead watched as Pickens, who plays Dr. Richard Webber on Grey’s, showed off some of his skills with a few strikes and a couple spares.
As it is, Washington, 43, has already made a strike of his own. The actor has landed some new TV gigs, including a guest-starring role on this fall’s NBC remake of The Bionic Woman with Michelle Ryan. He’s also landed a development deal as the lead star in a potential action drama he pitched to NBC for the 2008-09 season, according to USA Today, which was first to report his latest career moves.
While details of his character on The Bionic Woman remain a mystery, NBC-Universal co-chair Ben Silverman tells PEOPLE that this could be a stepping stone for Washington. “I think he could be an action star. There aren’t any African-American action stars on television, so I thought [we would] give him a forum to do his thing.”
Silverman, who says he knows Washington through a mutual friend who’s organizing charitable events in Africa, made the decision to hire Washington based on personal knowledge rather than the hype surrounding his spat on Grey’s. “I just think he’s a great actor,” says Silverman.
As for Washington’s former home base, with the Grey’s team having reported back to work last Monday, Wilson told PEOPLE it just isn’t the same. (Besides Washington’s departure, Kate Walsh is also gone – preparing to start her own show, Private Practice.)
“There’s something’s missing,” said Wilson, who plays Dr. Miranda Bailey. “There are definitely big voids there, so you’re trying to figure out how do you work now with the voids … not only personally but for the characters … and what does that mean?'”
Pickens declined to discuss Washington but did offer some kind words for Walsh. “She was such integral part of the cast and so beautiful and funny,” he said. “But I’m so happy for her with the new show. I wish her nothing but success with it.”
At Monday’s gathering of the cast – the first since Grey’s broke in May – “We started with a vengeance,” said Wilson. “It’s like full 14-hour days already, so it didn’t feel like we took a break.” Added Pickens: “You hit the ground running.”
Added to the cast is Chyler Leigh, who plays Lexi Grey, Meredith Grey’s half-sister and a new Seattle Grace intern.
“She’s really talented.” Pickens said of Leigh. “We’re looking forward to seeing how she integrates into the cast. I haven’t had any scenes with her, but from what I’ve seen I think she’s going to be a great addition.”
• With reporting by MARK DAGOSTINO
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