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August 28, 2015

Pilot Recasts: Five Best Friends That Never Were

by Chris Harnick, posted May 21st 2010 11:42AM
Fran Kranz and Ryan Hansen in Friends WIth BenefitsIn a bizarre alternate reality, your favorite TV character may have been played by somebody else. Recasting is a fact of life for shows, most of it happens during the time between the pilot episode is shot and the series goes to air.

Fran Kranz (pictured, left), known for his role on Joss Whedon's 'Dollhouse,' has been removed from NBC's new series 'Friends With Benefits.' Kranz appears quite extensively in the promotional trailer from NBC, but tweeted about being fired. Ian Reed Kesler was also given the boot from the Ryan Hansen-fronted 'Friends With Benefits.' Other exiled stars from this year's pilot season include Joely Richardson

In honor -- or mourning -- of the recasts that will take place from now until the fall 2010 season officially kicks off, here's a look back at best friends that never were.

Merrin DungeyMerrin Dungey as Naomi Bennett on 'Private Practice'
'Grey's Anatomy' has a special episode that served as a backdoor pilot for 'Private Practice.' When Addison went to California and met up with her old best friend from college, Naomi, she was played by 'Alias' veteran Merrin Dungey. However, when 'Private Practice' hit the air as its own series, Audra McDonald filled the role.
Riff ReganRiff Regan as Willow Rosenberg on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
Alyson Hannigan was not the lovable and geeky Willow Rosenberg in the original 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' pilot. That role belonged to Riff Regan. The brunette actress had a recurring role on 'Sisters' as the younger version of Georgie and had bit parts on 'Blossom,' 'Roseanne' and 'Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.' Her last credited role was in 2000 as part of a TV project, 'The Theory of Everything.'

Rachel Dratch, 30 RockRachel Dratch as Jenna de Carlo on '30 Rock'
Liz Lemon's self-obsessed best friend, Jenna Maroney, wasn't originally played by Jane Krakowski. Rachel Dratch originated the role of Jenna de Carlo in the '30 Rock' pilot and even appeared in early promotional images (left), but something happened after NBC saw the pilot. According to interviews, Dratch was told the direction of the show was changing and there wouldn't be as much emphasis on the sketches of the fictional 'Girlie Show,' so the role would be more acting, less characters. Dratch was kept on to appear as various characters during the first season.

Alex BorsteinAlex Borstein as Sookie St. James on 'Gilmore Girls'
Lorelai Gilmore's best friend and fellow inn employee wasn't originally played by Melissa McCarthy. Alex Borstein, known for her role on 'MadTV' and voicing Lois on 'Family Guy' originated the part in the pilot. Borstein's 'MadTV' contract prevented her from staying on the show in the series regular role of Sookie, but she went on to make appearances throughout the series.

Brook KerrBrook Kerr as Tara Thornton on 'True Blood'
The role of brassy Tara wasn't originally Rutina Wesley's. Brook Kerr originated the role in an early version of the hit HBO series. Kerr, a veteran of 'Passions,' went on to appear in an episode of 'NCIS: Los Angeles' and the TV movie 'Flower Girl.' Prior to her 'True Blood' recasting, Kerr made appearances on 'Cane,' 'CSI: Miami' and 'City Guys.' Many reviewers critiqued Kerr's attitude as Tara, saying it wasn't believable.

There you have it, five best friends who never were. In some alternate reality Rachel Dratch is singing 'Muffin Top' and Alyson Hannigan has never heard of 'American Pie.'

Tell us: Did the producers make the right choice in these recasts?

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M R Reed

Regarding FWB, you forgot that fact that even before the pilot went into production, Patrick J. Adams was replaced by Ryan Hansen. Of the originally chosen cast only Danneel Harris and Alexandra Holden remain.

August 01 2010 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fun Fact: Jackson Douglas, who played Sookie's boyfriend-then-fiancee-then-husband is the real life husband of Alex Borstein. They could've been married on and off screen (eventually).

May 21 2010 at 5:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What kind of idiot would fire Fran Kranz? That guy is brilliant.

May 21 2010 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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