Why NBC's New Monkey Crystal May Not Last

10:00 AM PST 08/02/2012 by Gary Baum
NBC

The capuchin star of "Animal Practice" was a hit at TCA -- but "Friends'" co-creator David Crane tells THR why his simian character was dumped.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Rambling Reporter column of the August 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

Crystal — a capuchin monkey that plays a sidekick to Justin Kirk’s veterinarian on buzzy fall sitcom Animal Practice — was the hit of NBC’s Television Critics Association presentation on July 24. And before that, during the network’s upfront in May, entertainment president Jennifer Salke was already excitedly noting that Crystal was the highest-testing new character of its development season.

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Now, those who remember the monkey’s roles in The Hangover: Part II and Community can attest to her being a first-rate comedic primate. But pinning even a small part of the network’s long-term turn-around on a simian (even a pro who, insists show EP Alex Tanaka, is “a two-take triumph”) might be just a little bit bananas.

After all, as Friends co-creator David Crane, who famously paired a capuchin named Marcel with David Schwimmer’s Ross Geller for a season — before a minor cast rebellion over on-set defecation and food-regurgitation habits forced him to be written off the show to the San Diego Zoo — wryly observes: “Even the best monkey in the world is still a monkey.” (It should be noted that Crystal is said to wear a diaper under her mini-me veterinarian scrubs on Animal Practice.)

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Matthew Perry, speaking to THR while at TCA to promote his new sitcom Go On, which will also air on NBC, was more pointed in his less-than-fond reminiscence. “Marcel had a trainer, and the trainer had scratches all over his face and would sort of yell instructions to the monkey while we were doing our scenes. Eventually, we were like, ‘There are six of us, we’re pretty good, kill the monkey.’”

Additional reporting by Diane Gordon.

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