Audra McDonald to Replace Merrin Dungey in Cast

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Apparently, Addison Montgomery goes through girlfriends as fast as she does boyfriends. When Private Practice debuts this fall, Kate Walsh's character will have a new BFF - Audra McDonald.

TV Guide reports that McDonald, a four-time Tony winner, has been tapped to replace Merrin Dungey in the role of Dr. Naomi Bennett, Dr. Montgomery's old friend from medical school and trusted confidant.

Audra McDonald Photo
The network's surprise decision was reportedly made for creative reasons.

Earlier this month, there were rumblings that execs had concerns that the Private Practice lineup wasn't perfect, especially as of the actors, who were cast hastily, reportedly didn't "pop" with audiences.

"Grey's Anatomy was cast off whoever seemed to fit the parts best and have good chemistry," says a well-placed source. "The spin-off was cast with actors the network and studio already had under contract."

Nevertheless, there are not expected to be any further cast changes coming before the show goes into production next month.

While we'll miss Merrin Dungey, we have to think creator Shonda Rhimes and ABC made the right call by discharging her. Of all the problems viewers expressed regarding the "enhanced two-hour Grey's" episode that doubled as the Private Practice pilot, a big one was the Dungey-Walsh dynamic.

We're looking forward to the debut of the new series and the role of Audra McDonald, an acclaimed actress and singer, within it.

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


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I love Audra McDonald, but she has no chemistry with Taye Diggs or Chris Lowell. Merrin Dungey was a better fit for that role. I gave it a chance and thought that Audra would grow on me, but she hasn't. She does nothing for me with Kate Walsh either. I really wish they would switch back or get someone else.


Although I'm sure Ms McDonald is a fine actress, I am so disappointed that the executives decided to replace Merrin Dungey.. I saw the 2 hr spin-off and it was outstanding. I have been watching the show since it debuted and Ms Dungey was superb as Naomi Bennett.. Get her back if you can. She was much more plausible as Naomi Bennett than Ms McDonald.


I have to say, while Audra MacDonald is a talented actress, I prefer Merrin Dungey whose easy style is a better fit for Kate Walsh's character. As the gal pal on King of Queens and the BF on Alias she was fantastic. I think the lack of chemistry is really the Taye Diggs character. While I'm glad to see him at work, I don't think he quite fits. Futhermore, I find it hard to believe that him and Audra were ever a couple. On a final note, can they get her to stop appearing angry even she's not.


Private Practice Quotes

A lot of men have a joy of seeing me naked. A lot! Well, not a lot... I mean.. 8, Well... 11.


You ever been violated? Anybody rape you lately? Let me tell you what its like. You know those made for TV movies where some woman's crouched down naked in a shower holding her knees and sobbing because when she closes her eyes she can still feel the guys hands on her? How when they show the attack the woman's eyes go all blank and still and she goes to some other place in her mind just to deal with the horror of what's happening to her while some Lillith Fair song plays. It is nothing like that. He's sturdy and sweaty and he licks your face and wipes himself off in your hair and when you try to scream he punches you so hard you see God. And then he goes at you again reaping stuff you didn't even know you had because he enjoyed it so much the first time. I know you're trying to help but if helping me means that everyone is gonna be looking at me the way you're looking at me now please do not help me.


Private Practice Music

  Song Artist
Song Lost The Mary Onettes
Down in the valley Down In The Valley The Broken West iTunes
Song Message From Yuz The Switches