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It might not be cited alongside The Sopranos and Mad Men, but for a decade, Monk was one of the biggest deals on cable TV. In fact, it was the biggest deal when it came to ratings, holding the cable record for ratings until 2012, despite having ended its run 2009.
The USA Network dramedy centered on an obsessive-compulsive detective, played by Tony Shalhoub, an actor who grew up as one of 10 siblings in an Arabic-speaking family from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Monk was not Shalhoub’s first notable role — after graduating from the Yale School of Drama in 1980, he popped up in everything from Barton Fink to NBC’s Wings — but it was his first TV lead. His work on Monk was nominated eight times for lead comedy actor at the Emmys, winning three, and seven at the SAG Awards, which he won twice. His first SAG win, in 2004, was disorienting.
“Our table was far back,” Shalhoub, 67, recalls. “I couldn’t figure out how to get up there. There’s no real aisle. I just have this vague, nightmarish memory of being in a maze, all these actors I’ve admired my entire life pointing me to the stage.” Shalhoub, who has gone on to win Emmys and SAG Awards playing Abe Weissman on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, says production is scheduled to start up again soon amid COVID-19 restrictions. “We wrapped season three in September 2019,” he says. “It’s been a very long time to be away from that particular family.”
This story first appeared in a January stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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