ABC entertainment president Stephen McPherson says his counterpart at NBC, Ben Silverman, was either "clueless or stupid" in his remarks about hiring
for a role on
Silverman, in one of his first acts as the new co-chairman of NBC's entertainment division, swooped up Washington for a six-episode stint on his network's new series after ABC decided not to keep the actor on
. ABC's decision was largely based on Washington's on-set use of a homophobic slur towards cast member T.R. Knight last October, which he repeated in front of the press at the Golden Globe Awards.
Silverman told reporters at his July 16 session with the Television Critics Association that he had begun talking with Washington "before he became available" and said he was shocked when ABC decided to let him go. "When he told me he was available I was like, 'You are? Wait, I don't understand. What do you mean? You're a huge star on a hit television show.'" he said. "I don't quite understand what had gone on there."
McPherson told reporters Thursday after his TCA session that "if [Silverman] was in fact talking to him before he was available, that's inducement to breach. So I don't know, he's either clueless or stupid."
As to Silverman saying he didn't understand the circumstances surrounding the firing of Washington, McPherson said: "Was he living in a cave?"
McPherson was also angry that Silverman couldn't come up with an answer when asked about the circumstances surrounding his appointment at NBC, which came just after the network had signed its previous entertainment chief Kevin Reilly to a new contract. Reilly was the strongest supporter of
, which was developed by Silverman's production company Reveille.
"Kevin Reilly is the guy that stood up for
against all opposition inside that company and in essence made Reveille," McPherson said. "The idea that he would be able to stand up there and say, 'I just got here?'" McPherson is a close pal of Reilly, who has since moved over to take an executive post in Fox's entertainment division.
As of late Wednesday, NBC did not respond to McPherson's comments.