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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.

Join The Conversation
urbanrosed urbanrosed 10 years
Yah, I'm not sure how much we're holding our collective breath for PP.
pishta-hamster pishta-hamster 10 years
Im actually glad that they did that. I cannot look at Dungey without seeing the Francienator. She always will be an evil clone in my eyes.
angeldevilwings angeldevilwings 10 years
It will only make the show better. It's good that they seem to go with what the viewers thought about the actors and did something about it as fast as they could. Now if only they could improve the writing...or maybe the writer?!?!
dmblauren dmblauren 10 years
well i'll always support anyone from alias, so i'm bummed to see merrin get replaced. i totally wasn't feeling the pilot and she was pretty much the only reason i was going to tune in. oh well, that's another show i won't need to dvr.
crispet1 crispet1 10 years
Im not feeling this switch at all.
kittyhawk kittyhawk 10 years
yeah, i agree, it was weird at first, but I think after a few episodes she would have settled into her character. I think actually the banter between Kate Walsh's character and MD's were really good. (biting and sharp, but showing love). I DON'T see Audra McDonald in this role. In my head the character is MD, even though she came across a bit strong. I also thought that the actress from Judging Amy (Amy Madigan?) near stole the pilot away by her acting which somehow drew me into her character's emotions than all the other actors. Anybody else feel the same?
pepperatstate pepperatstate 10 years
That's going to be weird to digest when the show comes back especially because her character was featured rather prominently in the show. Sometimes I wonder what ABC is smokin, major casting changes, canceling really good shows like 6 Degrees and replacing them with crap. Come on execs, what's going on!!!!!
MuppetsForDinner MuppetsForDinner 10 years
I think Merrin was horrible. She was the only actor on the show who I was constantly aware of. I definitely agree with this decision.
controlledspin controlledspin 10 years
Oh, that sucks. Nothing from the other actress, because I am not familiar enough with her work, but I really love Merrin.
posey posey 10 years
that's no good! i liked merrin dungey in that role quite a bit - enough that her presence on the show was going to be one of the main reasons i planned to watch it! in fact, i really enjoyed the entire cast of 'private practice'. hopefully i'll like audra macdonald in the role, and hopefully the show turns out ok, because like i said, i love the cast! shout out to piz, from 'veronica mars'. glad you made it out to l.a., buddy.
Kazagirl Kazagirl 10 years
oh wow that sucks, I really liked her.
balenciagababe balenciagababe 10 years
I have to say, they do look really similar!
craving_vintage craving_vintage 10 years
Unless she does something new soon, I'll get my Merrin fix by watching my The King of Queens and Alias dvds.
craving_vintage craving_vintage 10 years
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! This totally sucks. Yea, I sound like a 10 year old, lol but I like Merrin.
Pink_Lipstick Pink_Lipstick 10 years
I really like Audra, but when I watched the "pilot" for Private Practice, I really liked Merrin Dungey in the role.
christie christie 10 years
I really liked her (well after a few minutes into the preview anyway). I still am not sure what will happen in these two shows, they could both suck, or one could.
calamityjen calamityjen 10 years
Huh. I like Merrin, but it *was* weird at first to see her in the role of Addison's friend. I couldn't picture her as anything but Evil Francie Clone from Alias...LOL! It is kind of weird that they made a switch like that, though. Soap operas do that character switching stuff all the time, but I always thought that was too tacky to do on primetime TV. *shrug*
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 10 years
This doesn't bode well, to me. And I wasn't impressed with the pilot anyway. It all seemed very forced.
MrsSchmitt MrsSchmitt 10 years
I'm not familiar with Audra McDonald, but hopefully it's an improvement for PP. I'll probably check out the first few episodes no matter in hopes is as good as Grey's first season!
4everandalways 4everandalways 10 years
Im pretty much with Ausiello. Dungey is awesome, but I didnt buy the friendship between her and Kate Walsh. Audra McDonald is an excellent actress and Im guessing shes been screen tested and has chemistry with Kate Walsh. So now the friendship should be believable. As long as Tim Daly and Taye Diggs arent replaced Ill survive!
lms lms 10 years
If I am remembering correctly I thought that Dungey looked pregnant to me. She had a tummy and I she expecting or just has a pouch. Either way, I don't see myself watching it again.
stefsprl stefsprl 10 years
Audra McDonald is one of my favorite actresses ever -- and she has an amazing singing voice. I liked Merrin Dungey, though, on the pilot, and she was certainly the least of their problems. It's kind of weird that they're having two pretty major Broadway actors on the show (Taye Diggs and Audra)...coincidence, yes, but still a little odd.
ald7077 ald7077 10 years
I agree with Talldiva45, I thought that Dungey was great in the role. This isn't to take anything away from McDonald, because I'm sure that she's a very accomplished actress as well. However, it's one of those.. "If it isn't broke why fix it?" things. Like Buzz said, there's bigger problems with the show.
Talldiva45 Talldiva45 10 years
PP was pretty lame - but I thought Dungey was good in the role.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 10 years
Audra McDonald is a wonderful actress and powerful singer. Her Broadway performances are phenomenal. For awhile at least, I'll probably be expecting her to break into song halfway through the show. Sounds as though PP may be struggling from the start; Kate Walsh is going to have to be really strong to carry this show. Perhaps the whole Grey's phenomena has run its course. My fear is that neither PP or Grey's will be strong shows this season.
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