EXCLUSIVE: ABC’s hot Untitled Cobie Smulders pilot (fka Stumptown) was the first new drama series order at the network this year. When the pickup was announced on Wednesday, the cast list did not include one of the male leads opposite star Smulders in the pilot, Mark Webber.
He is being recast. According to sources, the character is being taken in a different direction.
Webber did not take the news lightly, sharing his “pain” in a series of tweets, which provide a glimpse into the agony actors who are subject to network recastings go through.
“Look, I’m a straight white male so I know my journey has been way less painful in this warped industry, but I’m being recast in a network television show because I’m not handsome enough for the executives. It’s important for me to share the real pain we endure in this industry,” he wrote Tuesday night.
“I’m so curious how they’re going to frame this in their upfront announcement. What the spin will be? Probably none as I’ve already been deemed insignificant by them. The way I was treated was so degrading. These ‘executive’ decisions are why network tv is dying.”
Webber, who is probably best known for his starring role in Snow Day and has done a slew of indie movies but very little TV, went on to vent how “the executive determined my look on the show” and about “the way this industry has contributed to women hating their bodies is just ONE of the many things I’ve abhorred for so long. I know a lot of us men generally stay silent with our challenges in this arena.” He then also took a shot at indie films. (you can read the entire thread below).
Webber likely was still very upset and angry when he wrote the slew of tweets, which include an expletive, as they were posted on Tuesday night, before the series pickup was announced by ABC on Wednesday and likely right after he had gotten the news. He probably should’ve used a better choice of words but the pain for actors is real as they go through the rollercoaster of emotions of finding out that their pilot is being picked up to series but they are being replaced.
Probably the most eloquent and inspiring take on the matter I’ve seen came from Brothers & Sisters alum Dave Annable after he was recast on the newly picked up CBS drama The Code last May. After sleeping on the news, the next day he wrote a dignified, thoughtful and inspiring Instagram post about his dismissal that provides a window into what actors in that position go through, the mixed emotions involved, as well as the inevitable element of self-doubt that creeps in.
“I’ve never been fired before and certainly not publicly,” he wrote. “Right now I want to run. I want to hide. I want to quit. The TOUGHER thing to do is face it. To embrace it. Learning to deal with failure is one of the most important lessons you’ll deal with in your life. Guess what? Failure is mandatory. It’s growth. It’ll never stop.”
UPDATE: After Deadline’s story came out, Webber posted the following note:
Recastings are virtually inevitable when the networks rush to cast and shoot 70+ pilots within a two-month window, racing against a deadline while competing for talent with the other broadcasters as well as cable and streaming networks. So far this upfront, we have recastings on three newly picked up series (the CW drama Nancy Drew, in which Scott Wolf is replacing Freddie Prinze Jr., the ABC comedy Mixed-ish, which is recasting Anders Holm,; and ABC’s Cobie Smulders drama.)
Based on the Stumptown graphic novel series, The Cobie Smulders pilot, written by Jason Richman and directed by James Griffiths, follows Dex Parios (Smulders), a strong, assertive, and sharp-witted army veteran with a complicated love life, gambling debt, and a brother to take care of in Portland, Oregon. Her military intelligence skills make her a great P.I., but her unapologetic style puts her in the firing line of hardcore criminals and not quite in alliance with the police.
The role played by Webber in the pilot, which will be recast, is Grey McConnell, Dex’s best friend who has an unrequited crush on her. He’s been renovating an old-fashioned brew pub into a modern-sleek mixology joint and has hired Dex’s brother as his sole employee.
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