Getting Fired From a Show Before You Even Start

Remember when I said that Patton Oswalt had been cast in a show? Well, he was. Then. But that was a long time ago. Days ago. And now he’s not on the show any more.

And Oswalt is the second actor in the same week to get bounced from a major network comedy pilot after the first table read. The other was Kristin Kreuk, who was supposed to follow up her stint on Josh Schwartz’s Chuck with the lead on his first sitcom pilot, Hitched. She was replaced by Sara Fletcher, who has more comedy experience than Kreuk.

One thing I take away from all this is that I agree with someone in the Deadline Hollywood Daily comments section (not a statement I make lightly) — it may be a mistake to make big announcements about which actors have been cast in a pilot. It’s not new for pilots to be re-cast on demands from the network, the studio, or the producer. They have to do whatever it takes to increase the show’s chances of being picked up. But in today’s media environment, where more people than ever can pick up on these announcements, it creates negative buzz for the show when these changes are made.

Back in 1994, when NewsRadio replaced Ray Romano at the last minute (they replaced him with a character who didn’t even last past the pilot, and replaced that guy with Joe Rogan when the show went to series), nobody outside of the industry even knew about it; Romano wasn’t “that guy who got fired from NewsRadio.” A few years later, Riff Regan was replaced on Buffy the Vampire Slayer by the more experienced Alyson Hannigan, and that wasn’t really widely known until the show was successful and famous. Even in 2007, the publicity process wasn’t quite as advanced as it is now, and The Big Bang Theory managed to go through two separate pilots and lots o’ recasting without it becoming an issue. But none of this stuff is really under the radar any more.


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