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Tony Shalhoub, Neil Patrick Harris, and More!

hollywoodexclusive1Tony Shalhoub reports that his "Monk" series troupe is just passing "the halfway point of the season" — in production of the eighth and final season for the USA Network show that's earned him three Emmys for his portrayal of obsessive-compulsive detective Adrian Monk. And, he says, "We're already getting nostalgic for it. People are already looking at me with puppy dog eyes."

He admits, "We all love to work, and we all love to have work, so to step away from something so strong and successful — of course there's a risk involved." Still, "I've spoken with the writers, and I think we've all agreed there's only so much you can mine out of this character. Nobody wants to move into the area where it starts to feel stale or the quality starts to drop. Since everything does have to come to an end, we want it to happen in the right way, where we're in control of it, not a situation where the plug gets pulled. I think it honors the audience this way."

The eighth season premiere is coming up Aug. 7, and Season 7 will be released on DVD July 21. Among the highlights ahead, he says, is an episode featuring Elizabeth Perkins, "Mr. Monk's Favorite Show." "She plays a woman who was a child actor on Monk's favorite series he watched when he was a child — the only series he watched, a 'Brady Bunch' kind of show. As an adult, she's written a tell-all book that is not at all flattering, and Monk's image of her is destroyed." Also, they've just finished shooting "Mr. Monk Takes the Stand," an episode in which Jay Mohr guests as a "super, super strong savvy defense attorney who's never lost a case, who is defending a criminal Monk knows is guilty."

MEANWHILE: Shalhoub tells us he's too "invested and immersed in 'Monk' to think much about life after 'Monk,'" and he's keeping his options open. But what about reports that have him involved in a possible revival of "Lend Me a Tenor" with Stanley Tucci directing, and T.R. Knight and Alfred Molina in the cast? Their reading of the show a while back was supposed to be hush-hush, but "Grey's Anatomy" followers keeping abreast of developments in Knight's departure from that show made it public knowledge.

Notes Tony, "It really is a funny play. We're going to be doing another reading of it in a few weeks in New York. We're all taking a hard look at it. No one knows if it's going to happen for sure. Everyone tiptoes around it for a while."

STICKING AROUND: What with his triumphant hosting of the Tony Awards, followed by back-to-back movies shooting this summer, one wonders if Neil Patrick Harris is feeling the itch to move on from his "How I Met Your Mother" series chores. He assures us such is not the case. "The show is great. It's one of those rare jobs that comes along that's so much fun, it's like going out to the playground at school every day. You hang out, say funny lines, do physical comedy and laugh."

Neil will shoot the big screen comedy "Best" with Amy Sedaris, and the "Beauty and the Beast"-inspired movie "Beastly" with Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen and Alex Pettyfer before returning to his role as wry womanizer Barney on "How I Met Your Mother" later this summer.

WORKING HER A— OFF: Lisa Ann Walter has been busy doing double duty — acting in the big-screen "Five Killers" comedy with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl in Atlanta, while godmothering her June 29-debuting Oxygen show, "Dance Your A— Off."

The funny lady dreamed up the concept for the reality dance competition/weight loss program and serves as one of its judges and executive producers. "It's been crazy. Ashton was talking to his guy from his television division one day when I was on the phone about 'Dance Your A — Off" setside between "Five Killers" camera calls. "He got me doing the Twittering thing," she adds. "Ashton Kutcher getting you into Twitter — it's kind of like being baptized by Christ."

For Walter, the "Dance Your A— Off" premiere marks the culmination of four years of determined effort, from the time she started pitching her idea to its arrival on Oxygen. There were lots of turndowns along the way. Walter was told by other network executives that with "Dancing With the Stars" on the air, there was no room for another dance-reality show. "Then 'So You Think You Can Dance' came along and proved them wrong," she recalls. "But I kept pitching it, kept bugging my people. Everybody said no. I don't care. I got two sitcoms on the air. I don't know the meaning of 'No,'" declares Walter, who gained weight for her co-starring role, with Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere, in the big-screen "Shall We Dance" — and dropped those pounds with the help of salsa dance lessons.

"I'm really fortunate, obviously, in that people sparked to it and the network, 495 Productions and Sally (producer Sally Ann Salsano) executed it in the spirit that kept my concept. To see these wonderful, beautiful contestants looking at me across the floor having lost 10 pounds in a week — it's a great feeling," she says.

With reports by Emily Feimster.

To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


1 Responses »

  1. A fan from the start of the Monk show I appreciate everyone's desire to maintain the lofty achevements of the series and that feelng everything that could be done is nearly complete so it is time to close the curtain so to speak my one remonstration is where did you all want go to with him?

    I am probably in the minority but I could envision a married Monk, still hampered by his many phobias, working with his wife to right the wrongs.