Beginning next month, Passions viewers will notice that Lindsay Hartley (Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald) and real-life husband Justin Hartley (Fox Crane) have left the show. But not to worry - both will be back.
The newlyweds are on parental leave until they have adjusted to life with their new baby girl. The couple welcomed their first child, Isabella Hartley, on July 3rd.
During the Hartleys' absence, former Sunset Beach stars Priscilla Garita (ex-Gabi Martinez) and Nick Stabile (ex-Mark Wolper) will temporarily assume the roles of Theresa and Fox. Both Garita and Stabile first air on August 30.
The decision to recast the Hartleys' roles -- even temporarily -- has drawn fire from some Passions viewers. And the decision to have two former NBC soap stars take on the roles has led some fans to accuse the network of nepotism.
According to an NBC spokesperson, "it is a total coincidence" that two stars from Sunset Beach, the short-lived NBC soap, landed the temporary roles. "There was a full casting process; they weren't hand-picked," the spokesperson explained, before noting "We're thrilled to have them back on NBC Daytime."
Explanation aside, some viewers have called for a boycott of Passions during the Hartleys' absence. In postings from fans on soapcentral.com's message boards, some Passions fans have said that they do not feel that the roles should have been recast.
"Lindsay and Justin [are] Theresa and Fox," said one fan in a post. "I think that the show should have found a way to write the characters out temporarily or some other way to work around [the Harleys'] exit."