Thursday, May 17, 2018

"Off with their heads!"

Now that the major broadcast networks have announced their fall schedules, it’s time for the public humiliation that is “recasting” shows that have been picked up. High profile actors are fired along with screaming headlines on industry trade sites.

Connie Nielsen was just replaced on the new CBS series about the FBI. Mira Sorvino’s comeback was short-lived as she was fired off her new series last week. A few years ago Jenna Fischer was booted off MAN WITH A PLAN.

There are many other examples, but I don’t want to share them because I’m sure it’s opening up old wounds.

And of course a year ago, Erinn Hayes not only was fired from KEVIN CAN WAIT but her character was killed off. You think Erinn Hayes is smiling these days?

Replacing cast members is not a new thing. Lisa Kudrow was the original Roz in FRASIER only to be replaced by Peri Gilpin. (I think Lisa managed to bounce back from that however.)

But here’s the difference: Until the last few years, these cast changes were not made public. They didn’t appear in bold headlines on Hollywood trade sites.

Is it really necessary to publicize these personnel switches? Is this news of such importance that it’s worth humiliating the actor? Isn’t it enough that he lost his job on a network TV series? There are not enough stories about Cannes or Adult Swim acquisitions?

I’m sorry. It just seems unnecessarily cruel to me and serves no real purpose. Believe me, in six months I’m not going to send an angry email to Deadline Hollywood saying, “Hey, I just watched that new FBI show and Connie Nielsen wasn’t on it. What the fuck?! Why didn’t I know about this?”

I guess consideration and compassion have also now been replaced.

27 comments :

therealshell said...

Civility is gone now, too.

Jeff Hysen said...

This just happened with "Welcome to the Neighborhood" as the lead actor in the pilot was replaced just last week with Max Greenfield. Plus, the preview of the show that CBS released yesterday has the original actor.

Terrence Moss said...

I'd like to see news about this and exhorbitant executive salaries completely eradicated from the trades.

Anonymous said...

I guess consideration and compassion have also now been replaced.

From what I've read about the Hollywood studio system, my question is did they ever exist?
cheers
Dave

tavm said...

The most public case of an actor being replaced on a TV show is that of Charlie Sheen-the highest paid one at the time-on "Two and a Half Men" with Ashton Kutcher. Now, I've just read that his co-star from the movie Dude, Where's My Car-Sean William Scott-is doing the same for Chance Crawford on "Lethal Weapon". In both cases, it seems they're not playing the same characters as their predecessors but different ones. In other words, it's not a Dick York/Sargent situation...

cd1515 said...

How’s this different from sports, where we read about every person who’s cut, fired, traded, etc?

Jon H said...

I remember for GILLIGAN'S ISLAND 3 actors from the original pilot were replaced, and I didn't know (like most people) who these actors were until TBS reran the original pilot in 1992. I don't think the earlier actors from the first 2 THREE'S COMPANY pilots were known by name for years afterward either.

www.bohemianrhapsody.dk said...

Why would anyone fire Connie Nielsen? She is brilliant.

Andy Rose said...

Before it became a regular series, a pilot of Sesame Street was made for testing, but the role of Gordon was recast afterward because the actor playing him simply didn't have much rapport with children. He wasn't credited on screen in the pilot, and 40 years later, the producers were unable to come up with any records of the man's name. They had to launch a social media campaign asking the public for help in order to finally identify him. (It turns out he had died in 1984.)

Mike Bloodworth said...

I don't know which would be worse, being cut BEFORE a show airs or after a few episodes. I'd have to say after. Realizing that that steady paycheck won't be coming after all. The self doubt that makes one ask, "Am I really that bad?" Or the paranoia that comes with the idea that maybe your fellow castmates had you "black balled." Plus, it doesn't make the producers, casting directors, etc., look very competent either. And, of course, one can't help but wonder what these shows would have been like with the original casting. Oh well...
M.B.

Peter said...

Like it or not, this is newsworthy in the industry, whether the firing is at the executive level, the "Solo" directors or even Connie Nielsen getting replaced on a pilot. Oh, well.

DBA said...

cd1515, I'd say this is more akin to a team drafting a player and then not signing him than it is to say, Matt Harvey being DFA.

Max Clarke said...

It is tacky to spill the beans on who was fired, but it is news. It is important no doubt to a lot of people in show business.

But I’m not interested in the inside baseball of tv shows and movies. Not enough time to follow the details.

But I would watch at least one episode of a TV show about a network exec whose job is to sack the stars and replace them. There was a Cheers episode when Norm has to be the company’s executioner. Splendid episode and performance by George Wendt.

Curt Alliaume said...

This may be partially due to more news coverage of Hollywood and the media (the Entertainment Tonight effect). There was coverage in the past (the Dick York/Dick Sargent Bewitched switch, for example, was noted in the 2/10/69 issue of Broadcasting magazine - but that was a trade publication.

Ken could probably address this best, but there are probably lots of reasons why actors are replaced on series before they go to air. After, it's generally for one of two reasons: the character doesn't work in the show, or the actor's behavior makes it impossible to continue (Clayne Crawford, Charlie Sheen).

Side note: Clayne Crawford was dropped from Lethal Weapon, not Chace Chawford (who's probably had to make that explanation a few times).

Patrick said...

Well I think they announce the changes because they announce the initial casting so they would have to announce that person isnt going to be in the show anymore or people would be wondering what happened when they tune in or see promos with a new person.

Kaleberg said...

Wasn't Variety always full of this kind of stuff? Show business is a business, so a lot of it is about people being hired and fired. Hollywood seems to be a small town anyway. Is it even possible to keep some of these things secret?

Donald Benson said...

Broadway shows as well. Sometimes an actor will be replaced out of town (or shortly after opening, if they don't think a replacement will be ready in time). Sometimes the actor will want out -- Dean Jones opened "Company" on Broadway, but issues in his personal life made it too tough to do a show about marriage.

David G. said...

There's another one from another show Ken was involved with: Barbara Townsend getting replaced toward the end of one program's run by Anne Pitoniak. Feel free to name the series, Ken Levine fans.....!

(And Ken: Since the performers involved are now both deceased, is there any story to share about the reasons for that particular recasting?)

Mike Doran said...

Because I grew up watching soap operas, I became accustomed at an early age to actors being replaced on short notice (sometimes almost no notice).
Most of the soaps were still done live from New York City back then.
The standard procedure was that the announcer would say at the start of the story:
The part of John Dough is now played by Joseph C.K. Bleau.
(Or something like that.)
And the show went on.

Still does, by the way; the four remaining network soaps (all taped in Hollywood about a month ahead of airing) sometimes have to bring in substitutes on short notice - always duly announced at the top of the broadcast.

Prime time, with a shade more lead time, makes all its announcements in this area well ahead of the event, and always has; fan audience agitation over such things is a fairly recent development (such has always been my observation, at any rate).

Barry Traylor said...

Considering the moron and his pack of jackals in the White House this what we have devolved to.

Curt Alliaume said...

David G. wrote:

There's another one from another show Ken was involved with: Barbara Townsend getting replaced toward the end of one program's run by Anne Pitoniak. Feel free to name the series, Ken Levine fans.....!

AfterMASH, of course, but there was at least one more instance. From the 11/12/09 entry:

unkystan has a TONY RANDALL SHOW question:

I was wondering why Devon Scott was replaced by Penny Peyser for season two.

Honestly, CBS wanted someone more attractive. Now usually the trade-off is looks for acting ability but I have to say, with no disrespect to Devon, that in this case Penny was better and funnier.


Jon H said...

The recasting with Anne Pitoniak for Barbara Townsend was AFTERMASH. Someone on the old Jump the Shark website which is still archived from the great pre-TV Guide-owned version, gave this recasting as the show's JTS moment.

Edward said...

Being humiliated online is a new phenomenon. I'm sure these changes were reported in the trades back in the day with little notice. TV Producers could make Chuck Cunningham disappear up the stairs without much noise. Perhaps a blurb in the Q&A Sunday newspaper TV section could answer a question about Chuck's absence, two years later.

---------------

One casting change which had to be really disappointing was the replacement of a young actress (Rebecca Balding) on "Lou Grant" for an older actress (Linda Kelsey) after the first three episodes. The producers decided they did not want the show to have a young perky actress. Looks like they made the right call as Kelsey was nominated for Emmy's all five years of the show's run.

Also, a Lifetime Casting Award for the producers or studio suits who replaced the original Bundy kids on "Married with Children" after the unaired pilot made the rounds. The unaired pilot or clips of it are on YouTube.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

Nobody has mentioned the "live" recasting of neighbour Harry Morton on the Burns and Allen Programme. Harry Morton was played first by Harry Von Zell, and was recast three times over the course of the series.In 1953, Harry was played by Fred Clark, who just accepted a role on Broadway. Burns stopped the scene and introduced the new Harry, this time played by Larry Keating, to the audience and to his TV wife Blanche Morton, played by Bea Benaderet. Burns then recues the actors and the episode continues.

tavm said...

Actually, Albert, the first Harry Morton was Hal March, followed by John Brown, and then Fred Clark before Keating took over for the rest of the series' run.

VP81955 said...

Went with the "fourth wall" of that marvelous series.

Jessy S. said...

There was also an example in the 10th season of The Simpsons. In "Homer to the Max," The Simpsons watch a "Miami Vice" parody called "Police Cops" and it has a character named Homer Simpson who was pretty much a model police officer. This Homer did his job, was skinny, and was a great man. Then episode two rolls around and Homer is fat, stupid, and is a hire out of Project Bootstrap. Not only did two different actors play the same character, there was a personality change. Read the trades, Homer.