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.


Whatever! That's crap! She was great on the show....I'm soo dissapointed now! I want Fancie back!


While I think Audra McDonald is great, I really like Merrin Dungey and am sad to see her go. Who they really need to recast is Taye Diggs as every show he is on gets cancelled. He is a dud, and if the "chemistry" issue was between he and Merrin, I think a better move would have been to recast his role. Someone at ABC must really like him!


I am not at all happy about the switcheroo ABC pulled between the May debut of the 'Private Practice' and tonight's Pilot regarding the pivotal last-minute casting change, replacing Merrin Dungey, 'Naomi' with Audra McDonald. Although Ms. McDonald may be a talented actor, it doesn't sit well with me that ABC would drop such a talented and experienced actor like Dungey, who also happens to be an integral part of the plotline of the entire series-especially after all the hype surrounding the series premiere-at such a crucial point during the show-its pretty bold for them to presume that they can change one of the two main characters just as the show is developing its fanbase. I say, ''If it ain't broke, don't fix it!'' This could very possibly throw fans for a loop and breakdown the fanbase that 'Private Practice' is just now building! On a side note, I am also somewhat of a Merrin Dungey fan. She was superb in Alias, fantastic in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' and even lent credibility to the unfortunate disaster-of-a-show that was 'Summerland.' -Dominique


I am VERY excited about this. I think that Audra McDonald is a truly amazing actress and I think that they are completley right to put her in here...I didnt see the chemistry with Taye and Merrin and I think that Audra will be the best for the role. I think that this is going to be an amazing show!


I love Audra McDonald's work. I think she is amazing; however, I am disappointed. I was really looking forward to seeing Merrin Dungey. I thought her chemistry with Kate Walsh was fine and that it would get even stronger as the series went on.


I couldn't be happier about this. Audra McDonald is one of the most talented people in the entire world, and she'd about to prove it to everyone. This show has just turned into a must see for me.


im soo mad right now.this totally seriously sucks!
im still a huge fan of alias and Merrin Dungey is a great actress!!!!


So not happy about this. I am still very excited about the show but being a HUGE Alias fan I was stoked about Merrin Dungey! (Especially since David Anders is joining Heroes)


Private Practice Quotes

Having a conscience is brutal.


Lucas's mom is amazing.


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