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Big Casting Change for "Private Practice"!

Big Casting Change for "Private Practice"!

When "Private Practice" debuts in the fall, there will be a new Naomi playing the best friend to Kate Walsh's Addison. ABC said on Friday that Merrin Dungey (at right) has been replaced in the role of Addison's best friend. Audra McDonald (at left), who's best known as a stage actress and has four Tony Awards to her name, will be taking her place.

Pilots recast actors all the time — the CBS show "Moonlight" will practically have a whole new cast by fall — but this situation is weirder than normal. Outside the network executives themselves, only TV critics typically see pilots, but millions of us have already watched "Private Practice" and seen Dungey in the role. Did they think we wouldn't notice?

TV Guide's Michael Ausiello said there had been rumblings that some of the actors didn't "pop" with viewers back in May, and he agrees that Dungey wasn't right for the role. I, on the other hand, loved her and thought that her banter with Kate Walsh was one of the best parts of the fairly weak episode. "Private Practice" had its problems, but I didn't think this was one they needed to fix. What about you?

Audra McDonald photo Source
Merrin Dungey photo copyright 2007 ABC, Inc.

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