Exclusive: Audra McDonald to Exit Private Practice

It looks like Private Practice‘s Addison is going to be in the market for a new BFF.

In what is by all indications is a completely amicable split, Audra McDonald is leaving the Thursday-night ABC drama at the end of the season to be closer to her family (including 10-year-old daughter Zoe) in New York. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve seen the last of her Private Practice character, Naomi.

Huh? Allow me to explain.

Although the four-time Tony-winning powerhouse will be losing her series-regular status, there’s a very good chance she’ll be back in a guest-star capacity next season.

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“I have spent four amazing years working with the best cast and crew on television at Private Practice,” McDonald tells TVLine exclusively. “Though I am stepping away from the series as a regular in order to spend more time in New York with my family, I am not closing the door on Private Practice or the character, Naomi. I am beyond grateful to [series creator] Shonda Rhimes, ABC, and the team behind the show.”

Rhimes in turn says, “We are so appreciative of Audra and her talents and look forward to having her return to Private Practice as often as possible. Audra has been a bicoastal commuter throughout our four seasons on the air, and, ultimately, we respect and appreciate her desire to spend more time with family in New York.”

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McDonald’s departure shouldn’t come as a complete shock to fans. For the past two seasons, the actress’ presence on the show has been scaled back as producers strived to mitigate her hellish cross-country trek.

Thoughts? Are you sad to see Naomi go? How do you think her reduced presence will be accounted for? And do you care to guess which Broadway revival McDonald should headline next? Hit the comments!

Comments (209)

  • I will know longer watch the show. She was the best part of Private Practice and without her there’s nothing left to watch!! Sorry I’m out

    Comment by juju – February 9, 2011 01:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I will miss Naomi and Audra. I have enjoyed her acting in the series and at other shows she appeared in. I totally understand the reasoning, but perhaps they can studio tape her in NY and impose her into the show as if she was there. Just a thought.

    Comment by Carol Lieb – February 9, 2011 01:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • While I’m not sad or surprised to see her go, I wish it was Amelia instead leaving.

    Comment by Melissa – February 9, 2011 01:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Uh, she is not judgmental with Addison she is honest, as only true friends can be. She is caught between a rock and a hard place, and has handled it very well I think. If I were in the situation Addison and I would definitely downgraded from bf to aquaintences… Especially knowing her history for infidelity. Don’t forget she has feelings for Sam as well, and has both their best interest at heart. No one is talking about what their relationship is doing to her…nehoo, she will be missed, she has been through alot, hopefully her character can come back happier

    Comment by Sisyhb01 – February 9, 2011 01:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Hopefully they’ll get someone better…I’m not thrilled with most of the actors on this except for Sam and Addison…the show is so dumb sometimes…and the names crack me up “dink”….don’t even know why I still watch it, but I do…

    Comment by Amy – February 9, 2011 01:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • well, don’t! if you take the time to watch, read this and comments it’s because you are attracted to it, can’t you see?
      If not, you are either too bored or a masochist

      Comment by Emilia – February 9, 2011 04:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love Audra and wish her well, but I don’t think I could take too much more of she and Addison trying to remain [best] friends when Addison dating her Ex-husband! Especially when Naomi doesn’t have a man yet. It was time to leave.


    Comment by Nadia in Money Earning – February 9, 2011 01:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Whatever happened to the guy in the wheelchair that could raise up to almost a standing position? She kinda ditched him to go with the older guy who was dying (and eventually died) but I don’t recall seeing what happened to the younger guy?

    Comment by Deb – February 9, 2011 01:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • hahahahaha!!!! They kissed and he was never seen again… They do this a lot w/ story lines on PPP remember when Dell kissed Naomi at the end of season 3 then season 4 they ignored it LOL Maybe the show just needs NEW WRITERS!!!!! DIRECTORS!!!! ETC

      Comment by Yasmine – February 10, 2011 12:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • No best friend would sleep with her best friends ex- husband! i would be judgemental and critical of Addison as well, her character isnt friend material. Naomi will be missed

    Comment by dave – February 9, 2011 01:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I will definitely miss her. Naomi character was the foundation for all the other characters she kept everyone in line. I think she’s very talented and beautiful and I think she has been under used. I could have seen the Sam/Addison relationship revelation play out in a entirely different way! Would like to see her back with Sam or atleast sleeping with him again! I will really miss her.

    Comment by Shapearl Wells – February 9, 2011 01:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Aww she will be missed! They never gave her quality dialoge on the show and gave a skanky bff to boot!-(what friend dates your exhusband??) I wish her all the best and hopefully she gets quality roles in NYC.

    Comment by Dawna – February 9, 2011 01:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ok I can understand how some people feel she won’t be missed due to some flaws in Naomi’s character. However her character is a realist she doesn’t go around trying to be judgemental or better than anyone. She admits her faults just like evaryone. Anyone who loves the truth from a real friend who has real issues can understand Naomi. And who the hell is supposed to be happy about their teenager getting pregnant and married!

    Comment by Mimi – February 9, 2011 01:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Also having quality African-Americans on primetime tv is key for me. And ABC only has a handful of Black Actors so I hope they bring someone of Color in to fill her shoes.

    Comment by Shapearl Wells – February 9, 2011 01:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m really sad! I love Naomi <3 but i respect her choice

    Comment by Mike – February 9, 2011 01:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • She isn’t my favorite charactor! Also Amelia gets ony nerves. Why does she always wear shirts so short it shows her stomach, she needs a better stylist on the show!

    Comment by Kriss – February 9, 2011 01:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I will miss her character. I went to school with her and have enjoyed watching her grow and her success. Good luck to her in whatever it is she does.

    Comment by Dawn Carr – February 9, 2011 01:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I liked her character, I’m sad to see her go.

    Who cares if Addison and Sam are together. She’s white, big deal! So what she’s with a black man.No one ever complained that Naomi was with that old white man or that white guy in the wheel chair. People really need to stop being so hateful and jealous.Interracial relationships are happening everywhere, grow up and get over it!!!

    Comment by ChrissyL – February 9, 2011 01:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really love Naomi and it sucks she’s leaving. People are saying she’s not a good friend. But who would be friends with someone that hooked up with their ex-husband. I love Addison, but that’s crossing the line. Audra I wish you all the luck in the world. Your a great actress and singer!

    Comment by Stephanie Limbacker – February 9, 2011 01:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Uh, who cares? Sounds like she is wonderful on Broadway, but she is borrrringgg on the show. Next!

    Comment by Jill – February 9, 2011 01:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m not sorry to see her go. As far as I’m concerned, she can’t go fast enough, I can’t stand her!

    Comment by Alison – February 9, 2011 01:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • They should just recast. It was nice of the show to give her time with her family, but if Naomi is going to be a major part of the show, just recast. They’ve done it once already.

    Comment by Ella – February 9, 2011 01:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • not a bad idea… I say they hold on to Charlotte (KaDee), Violet (Amy) and yep that’s it. lol

      Comment by Yasmine – February 10, 2011 12:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I like Naomi’s character and sad to see her go. Best wishes for Audra in all her future projects.

    Comment by Cathy – February 9, 2011 01:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Yes I agree, I don’t see how Naiomi could have stayed as good a friend as she (just) managed to be to Addy, so sad but unsurprising as storylines go. I guess this leaves room for Addy & Sam’s relationship to blossom beyond their own houses!

    Comment by Loubie – February 9, 2011 01:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I stopped watching PP a long time ago, so I don’t care who leaves the show. It’s too soapy for me – everybody sleeping with everybody!

    Comment by Caro – February 9, 2011 02:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I’d like to know your reason for commenting on this post then sweetie :)

      Comment by Yasmine – February 10, 2011 12:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • She should take Sam with her…

    Comment by Johninpa – February 9, 2011 02:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I wouldn’t mind that either. Taye Diggs is great but Sam is a boring character and he’s always defined by the woman he’s currently with. Don’t see where he’s adding much to the show and I am so not interested in watching him and Addison play house or something.

      Comment by Neil – February 9, 2011 02:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • hahahahahahahaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!! He does need to take a few acting classes maybe :/ because they do write good stuff for him, his reactions just don’t fit properly and it just makes me laugh to see him react to bad news

      Comment by Yasmine – February 10, 2011 12:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m not surprised by this, Naomi was gone during some of the season’s most important moments (Charlotte’s tragedy and Betsy’s return). However, I don’t think Naomi was necessarily wrong for her reaction to Addison. The truth is, Addison does have relationship issues. Even Pete told her so at her mother’s wedding. Just because you correctly identify a pattern in someone doesn’t make you judgmental. Naomi was put in a delicate position when Addison and Sam got together. Truth be told, her delivery can be condescending, but cut the girl a little slack. If your ex-husband (who left you) got together with your best friend who has a history of cheating, you may be a little freaked out too. I can’t imagine we’re all on our best behavior in weird situations like that one…..bottom line, I’m sad to see her go, but not devestated.

    Comment by Brianna – February 9, 2011 02:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Personally, I couldn’t care less if Naomi goes. Looking at how she interacts with her “friends,” I wouldn’t want to be one. She’s a witch that starts with “b” in my estimation.

    Comment by Nancy – February 9, 2011 02:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Naomi was a good character and I enjoyed her but I think this will work well. Guest appearing is good as it seems Naomi was pretty much fazed out already. I don’t know what you guys are talking about when it comes to Amelia, she is great! A great addition to the show.

    Comment by Myrna Kerr – February 9, 2011 02:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • AGREED! Ameila makes it relatable for the younger viewers. If I was young and had a hot body, I’d wear belly shirts to work too. Seriously.

      Comment by Yasmine – February 10, 2011 12:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Some of you really have me shaking my head. It’s the storyline and script writer that are bad. Not the actress. She does good when she has a good storyline to follow. They should have given her reason to want to make that trek back and forth. I blame the writers.

    Comment by sanchez – February 9, 2011 02:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • AGREED! Remember that whole story line about Maya being pregnant? She was brilliant when the material was more challenging and written well

      Comment by Yasmine – February 10, 2011 12:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The character of Naomi was poorly written. As for Naomi being a terrible/judgemental friend, what about that slut Addison? I don’t know of anyone who would stay best friends with someone who is sleeping with their ex-husband. Especially since Addison knew Naomi didn’t want to be divorced. Addison has a bad habit of sleeping with folks she knows damn well she has no business sleeping with. That is why Naomi told Addison she was bad at relationships.

    I don’t blame Audra for leaving the show. There is a better written script/story out there waiting for her.

    Comment by Miss Pam – February 9, 2011 02:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Sad that Naomi is leaving … I still had hopes that things wouldn’t work out for Sam & Addison & that instead Sam & Naomi would rekindle their flame ……to agree with some of the above posts … I also do not like Ammelia & wish she were the one leaving at the end of the season! But all in all, i believe that the cast is strong enough even with out her as long as Taye Diggs is still there! Definitely my fav! :)

    Comment by ShaLIn – February 9, 2011 02:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think it’s funny to hear people attack Audra as if she was really “Naomi”. It’s a T.V show people. If you want to blame anybody…blame the writers for never really giving Naomi a purpose or suspensful plot !!!

    I too was hoping her character would get back with Sam. And nobody can take away talent…look her up on Broadway. She is amazing!! I hope she can get cast in something filmed out of N.Y that will showcase what a brilliant actress she really is.

    I applaud her for being one of the few in hollywood to make a decision like this and put the needs of her family first. I have nothing but respect for her.

    Good Luck Audra !!!

    Comment by Amy – February 9, 2011 02:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • she was once on Law and Order: SVU She could maybe revisit that set? OR there’s always 30Rock? ;)

      Comment by Yasmine – February 10, 2011 12:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I like the show much better when Audra is on it. Some people do not understand a real friend will tell you “straight up” when you are messing up, unlike the fake “soaps!!” I will find something else to watch during that time spot. Everyone has someone they relate to on a show, when that person is gone, so is the interest in the story line.

    Comment by Aries – February 9, 2011 02:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • @s …. Kadee Strickland is not a talentless hack .. i will miss nae cant wait for her guest appearances

    Comment by kate – February 9, 2011 02:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Don’t leave! I’m glad she still has the option of coming back.. don’t kill her off… give her a man to run off with so she can come back and visit, especially when Addison gets herself in big trouble… and you know she will.

    Comment by cincygirl – February 9, 2011 02:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This is a TV show. People come and people go. I love the show and won’t stop watching it because Naomi is gone. I liked Dell and he’s gone. They will bring another character in and we will all forget that Naomi was even on the show!! Good for her to spend time with her family.

    Comment by Jan – February 9, 2011 03:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I totally undestand and this decision is what amkes her even more loveable as the wonderful actress that she is. SO beautiful and full of grace.

    Comment by Katy – February 9, 2011 03:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I can say she will be greatly missed because she is a beautiful person with so much grace.
    Some people are just idiots! These are scripts and characters that they are being and some of you critics the people that play them. How about, try changing Ameala’s possition on the show instead of I wish she was leaving. And commenting on Kadie Strickland. She was amazing in thee rape episode and how she portayed herself as the victim. AMazing acting. JUst amazing. THey are people too and sometimes their placein the show could be tweaked doesn’t make them bad actors.

    Comment by Katy – February 9, 2011 03:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i like the show and i think she will be missed , but i wish her well. Children are important and i think she is making a good decision. best of luck

    Comment by jenni – February 9, 2011 03:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I just couln’t get over what she wore to work every day. The little black dress with the cleavage and pearls looked more like she should be going to a party. Everyone else on the show dressed appropriately, but I was stunned everytime she was on camera. She was supposed to be the proper lady, more like housewives of new york or beverly hills.

    Comment by Liz – February 9, 2011 03:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Amelia is such a cocky person. I know it is script but in real life new people usually have a bit more tact and are more reserved. Her character annoys me. Naomi was ok but didn’t really contribute to entertainment in my opinion. Don’t care if she leaves. Love the show however…minus Amelia.

    Comment by Alisha – February 9, 2011 04:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s sad that Audra is leaving the show…I thought there would be more heat between her and Addison in the upcoming shows.

    Comment by Jennifer – February 9, 2011 04:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • me too! I really thought a fight or 2 would break out. :( oh well

      Comment by Yasmine – February 10, 2011 12:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I don’n want her to leave, she’s smart, tender and pretty.
    It’s going to be a GREAT LOSS for the team.

    Comment by Emilia – February 9, 2011 04:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Her character has been scaled back so much it’s not going to be a big loss.

    I wish they’d do something about the horrid Amelia character though – what kind of “surgeon” goes to work in a belly top?! She acts way too immature and looks like she’s 12, not realistic at all AND the character is super annoying.

    Back to Audra, she’ll be missed but it’s not surprising. I look forward to seeing her back on Broadway!

    Comment by Petunia – February 9, 2011 05:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’ll miss Naomi although they haven’t had her doing very much on the show of late. I hate Addison and Sam together. It’s disgusting. Addison is definitely breaking the Girl Code. She’s a selfish tramp. Amelia serves no purpose.

    Comment by Danielle – February 9, 2011 05:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i love audra on private practice and will miss her. to all of you who say naomi is not a good friend to addison: who else but a good friend can tell you when you really screw up in your life??? and i think that she also showed a lot of restraint when she found out that addison was going after sam. i will keep watching the show because i must admit i like most all of the characters on it, but again, i will miss audra. good luck to an awesome, talented lady!

    Comment by linda – February 9, 2011 06:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I initially watched the show only because Broadway stars Audra McDonald and Taye Diggs were in the cast. I ended up really liking “Private Practice” because the chemistry among the ensemble cast is excellent. I’m sorry to see Audra go, but I will continue to watch. I’m also sorry that Audra and Taye never got to sing on the show.

    Comment by RG – February 9, 2011 06:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I rather liked seeing her on the show but since she has been making minimal appearances I don’t think it will be a hard transition to not seeing her. I do hope that she leaves with a man. I’m tired of seeing Naomi alone while everyone else has the pick of the litter.

    Comment by keleighb – February 9, 2011 07:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am going to hate the fact that Nioami is leaving the show and she will be miss. Maybe you can do a spinoff she moves to New York to start a new practice. I think that will be good .

    Comment by Rosa Monroe – February 9, 2011 07:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • ooooh I’d totally watch that! But could Naomi handle a show on her own? I think there’d have to be a STRONG (and good lookin’) supporting cast

      Comment by Yasmine – February 10, 2011 11:58 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really love Audra’s acting & will miss the Naomi character, even if she is very judgemental of Addie as of late! But she remembers her past!! But Addison is my fav character on the show!!

    Comment by April – February 9, 2011 07:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was lucky to see Audra perform this summer in Orem, UT, and it was such a great experience. She was truly awesome. I have watched pp and it is just a TV show….she is a great actress and an amazing singer. I wish her the best in what she chooses to do.

    Comment by Melanie – February 9, 2011 07:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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