Q: Why would the casting director for "Last Man Standing" make such a drastic change in the character of Mandy? It seems a better solution would have been to send Mandy to Paris to design clothes.

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

I'll do you one better than the casting director: showrunner Kevin Abbott -- basically the lead creative force on the team -- took a direct hand in recasting the role, and he went on the record to say, basically, they all fell in love with the new actress, Molly McCook.

ABC canceled "Last Man Standing" in 2017, only to have Fox pick it up later. But in the meantime, Molly Ephraim, who originally played Mandy in the show, had made other acting commitments. The producers were stuck either writing the character off or recasting her. They decided to at least consider recasting her, and they found McCook.

Abbot said in the interview with Entertainment Weekly that the producers expected a backlash from fans but felt confident they'd get over it because they all went through the same thing.

"When Molly McCook walked in, we thought, 'that's not going to work.' Physically that's not going to work. And then she's just so good."

He summed up the journey the producers went through: "It's a little jarring, then you grow to love her."

There was indeed a backlash -- people took to Twitter in droves to complain about the new actress the night of the season premiere -- but it was somewhat drowned out by the good news: the Fox revival was a huge hit.

Abbot said in the interview that Fox executives told him they expected ratings of around 1.0 points in the all-important 18-49 demographic (roughly stated, that means they expected one percent of all households headed by someone of that age to tune in). But he secretly hoped for a 1.3. When the final numbers were in, the premiere earned a whopping 1.8 points -- a result the entertainment media referred to variously as a "shock," a "surge" and other overexcited terms.  


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