'Animal Practice' cast offers thoughts on working with a scene-stealing monkey

animal-practice-tca.jpgEarly in the session for NBC's new comedy "Animal Practice" at the Television Critics Association, a reporter marvels at all the things the show has its simian character, a monkey named Dr. Rizzo, do.

"You asked her to do a lot of stuff -- I mean, wear costumes, close the door, ride around in car," the reporter notes.

"I do all that stuff," human "Animal Practice" star Justin Kirk retorts.

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Nonetheless, the show's cast seems at peace with the idea of occasionally/often being upstaged by the monkey -- whose name is Crystal and has also appeared in "Community," "The Hangover Part II" and "We Bought a Zoo" -- and the other animals. Some of their thoughts:

Justin Kirk: "I asked her handler, Tom, who is the man behind the woman, I said, 'What's the best way to ingratiate myself to Crystal, and bond with her?' And he says, and I think he's told others of us, 'Ignore her. Don't try to grab her,' and I said, 'I've been doing that all my life. So it shouldn't be difficult.' So she's just super-cool. Like, she's the most famous monkey in Hollywood, so you try to be cool around her. We just presented an award together this weekend at the Teen Choice Awards, so we hang out off set too."

Kym Whitley: "Actually, I love the monkey, but I put it in my contract not to be in any scenes with her because she is a scene-stealer. As the character, I love all the animals. Juanita loves animals. She helps run the hospital. But Dr. Rizzo is a mess just like the rest of them."

JoAnna Garcia Swisher: "With Crystal, I mean, we were laughing. She hits her mark certainly better than I do. She picks her mark up and she goes for it. They really are special, and I think a lot of it has to do with the humans that are there with them that make them feel so secure and confident, and they also coexist together very beautifully. There was a tiger there [one] day. I said, 'Is she OK?' Tom the trainer said, 'As long as they're good with her, she's good with them.' It feels really natural. ...

"You just stay away from the tiger because the tiger sprays, and I'll let your mind go where it should go with that. So any time that tiger turns its butt, I'm like booking it."

"Animal Practice" will have a commercial-free preview on Aug. 12 following the closing ceremonies of the Olympics and premiere in its regular timeslot at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, Sept. 26.
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