While axed Grey’s Anatomy Isaiah Washington rants and raves his way into celebrity oblivion after his axing (after the jump), Grey’s producers are in for more controversy with the sudden replacement of a key castmember in the anticipated Grey’s fall spinoff.
ABC Studios confirmed today that four-time Tony winner Audra McDonald has been hired to replace Merrin Dungey as star Kate Walsh’s best friend in the spinoff Private Practice– even though Merrin was introduced to 21.2 million viewers in the very special Grey’s episode that launched Practice.
Back in May, Merrin played Dr. Naomi Bennett, the new character who is influential enough to talk Kate’s Dr. Addison Montgomery into moving to California to join a health cooperative where she works with her ex-husband, played by Taye Diggs, and colleagues Tim Daly, Amy Brenneman and Paul Adelstein. Merrin starred in Alias and Summerland and guestedon several series like The King of Queens and Malcolm in the Middle.
Audra is known as a Broadway actress.
Nobody’s given a reason for the change.
Private Practice premieres Wednesdays at 9 pm in September.
Meanwhile, if you didn’t catch up with Isaiah’s recent comments, he gives Newsweek his explanation of the on-set tiff with costar Patrick Dempsey in which he called costar TR Knight a “faggot”– and ultimately lost his job:
“Patrick and I had a philosophical disagreement that got out of hand and that I regret a great deal. I said a lot of negative things that were never reported, but there was one word that caught everyone’s attention, particularly someone who wasn’t even in the room with us. It was a fight between two men that shouldn’t have happened. But someone heard the booming voice of a black man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end for me. I see that now, but I didn’t then.
“It didn’t help me on the set that I was a black man who wasn’t a mush-mouth Negro walking around with his head in his hands all the time. I didn’t speak like I’d just left the plantation and that can be a problem for people sometime.
“I had a person in human resources tell me after this thing played out that ‘some people’ were afraid of me around the studio. I asked her why, because I’m a 6-foot-1, black man with dark skin and who doesn’t go around saying ‘Yessah, massa sir’ and ‘No sir, massa’ to everyone? It’s nuts when your presence alone can just scare people, and that made me a prime candidate to take the heat in a dysfunctional family.”