Sure, the recasting of Mercy Reef — the Aquaman project in development — looks like a simple swap of one hot dude (Uptown Girls’ Will Toale) for another (Passions’ Justin Hartley). ”Did I mention that Justin’s [also] easy on the eyes?” laughs exec producer Al Gough (Smallville), who switched lead actors after The CW, that WB-UPN mash-up, requested a different King of Atlantis. Still, there’s good news for Toale: Television history is — bad Aquaman pun alert — swimming with folks who got the small-screen boot, only to hit the big time later.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH (ABC, 1977) The series wasn’t enough for Mark Hamill, the original David Bradford. That role went to Grant Goodeve when Hamill left to take a chance on some movie with Jedi Knights and a green Muppet.
FRASIER (NBC, 1993) When Lisa Kudrow was let go as Frasier’s radio-show producer Roz, Peri Gilpin got the gig. Kudrow, however, went on to make some better Friends.
NEWSRADIO (NBC, 1995) Joe Rogan (now of Fear Factor) stepped in for a then-unknown Ray Romano, who eventually became very well-known as He of the Obscenely Large Paycheck thanks to Everybody Loves Raymond’s eternal syndication.
BETTE (CBS, 2000) Lindsay Lohan lasted just a couple of episodes as Bette Midler’s kid before Marina Malota took her seat on that sinking ship. Lohan, of course, went on to make Mean Girls, while Malota went on to guest-star on Yes, Dear.
LOVE, INC. (UPN, 2005) Shannen Doherty didn’t make it past the pilot before being swapped out for Busy Philipps. Was this an advantageous career move for Doherty? If you’ve ever caught the show, you’d consider it a blessing.