Inside the Audra McDonald-Merrin Dungey Switch

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This weekend's news about the recasting of Merrin Dungey (below, left) in one of the lead roles in Private Practice, raises an interesting question of how producers plan to handle the launch of the series this fall since the pilot was actually part of a two-hour episode of Grey's Anatomy.

It might've made sense, Variety notes, to repeat that episode, or even air a cut down version of it, in the first of Private Practice this fall.

But now that Audra McDonald (pictured, right) is taking over the role of Naomi Bennett, the college pal of Kate Walsh's Addison Montgomery, that is unlikely.

There'll be no re-shooting of anything done this spring, Variety reports.

Private Practice will start with a fresh episode that finds Addison Montgomery in L.A. and into her new life at the Santa Monica wellness center inhabited by her new host of quirky co-workers. Any needed back story can be filled in with dialogue in the opening moments.

Merrin Dungey: Out of Practice
Audra McDonald Picture

So why the Merrin Dungey-Audra McDonald swap?

It has been speculated that the chemistry between Dungey and Kate Walsh was not up to par, but Variety reports that it was also a chemistry matter - between Dungey and Taye Diggs, who plays Naomi's estranged husband Sam.

Some were having trouble buying them as a couple.

Audra McDonald, a four-time Tony winner and a Juilliard-trained singer, is known for exuding a natural strength common to great stage actresses.

But the decision to make the switch couldn't have been easy for Shonda Rhimes, creator-exec producer of Grey's Anatomy and its spinoff.

Merrin Dungey is the sister of Channing Dungey, an ABC Studios executive who oversees Grey's Anatomy for the studio and is close to Rhimes.

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


BRING BACK Merrin Dungey - She is a great actress; she can do action; she can do comedy and she has a following - She would be great for this drama series and she did an awesome job in the pilot. MANY FANS WILL NOT WATCH UNLESS YOU BRING HER BACK PETITION STARTS NOW!!!!!


I was suprised to see the switch. I must say I like Dungey in the role. It will be interesting to see how a theater actor will pull off a role in a primetime series. I am all for Audra being that she is a central valley local, but I am not too sure about this switch?


after seeing the first ep, i think she fits into the character more and i can see how she and addie are best friends because they are both fiercesome in a way.... and let emotions get to them sometimes.. i didnt really feel merrin onset. she was great in alias but just wasnt right as naomi. i'm glad it's working out better now


I knew I wasn't seeing things when I saw the promos on tv and on print. I really like Merrin Dungey. I enjoyed her very much on "King of Queens" and "Alias". Needless to say, I'm disappointed, but I'll be watching. Maybe she ought to move to Seattle Grace or, perhaps Winsteria Lane...


Merrin Dungey was one of the reasons I was going to watch Private Practice. I'll watch the first episode of the season and if I don't like her replacement, i'm not watching it. Poor decision to switch her character.


I am very excited to learn that Audra McDonald will be a regular on a series. My wife and I have watched Audra since she was about 11. Even a that age she was a shining star. I have never seen the other gal, but I predict that Audra will not disappoint. Anyway, it will get me watching a network series - something I have not done on a regular basis for over 30 years.


oh crap! she's the sis of an ABC studio executive??! dude..mustve been hard to replace her


I liked Merrin aswell.. They should really switch it back. And I mean how can they say the chemistry isn't there ? I mean hellow it was only one episode the actors shot together... I can understand Merrin down after all this. I really want her back on that show .. she rocks ! I hope the chemistry between Audra and the cast won't work out and that they will switch it back :D Go Merrin !! 2-Bad we can't find any interviews of Merrin's reaction about all this ..


i liked Merrin Dungey. Watched her on Alias and liked the fact that she was in private practice. i hope this new switch works out. -M


Private Practice Quotes

Charlotte: My mom always says God doesn't give with both hands. You're young, beautiful, brilliant. There has to be something you can't have.
Amelia: Some days I'd give that all up.
Charlotte: That's just the craving talking. The longer you go without a drink...
Amelia: I drank at your wedding. I thought it was ginger ale. I spit it out.
Charlotte: OK, since then?
Amelia: Nothing, but I can't stop thinking about it.
Charlotte: It was an accident. Don't let a slip turn into a fall. Get your butt to a meeting.

Having a conscience is brutal.


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