The cast members of NBC's new fall comedy, "Animal Practice," appeared before TV critics Tuesday morning at the summer press tour and the immediate question was: "Where's the monkey?"
That would be Crystal, a hairy little primate who steals scenes in the show set in a clinic run by Justin Kirk. Crystal, who has appeared in a number of movies, including "Night at the Museum," "The Hangover Part II," and "We Bought a Zoo," shows up in "Animal Practice" as the lab coat-clad Dr. Rizzo.
Pity the show's human actors who found themselves fielding a barrage of questions about what it's like to work with Crystal and other animals.
So far, so good.
"She's the most famous monkey in Hollywood, so I'm cool around her," Kirk said.
Crystal finally did appear near the end of the session -- riding atop a mini ambulance, with siren blaring. Though she took no questions, she managed to melt the hearts of cynical critics throughout the ballroom.
Speaking of cynicism, it's easy to dismiss "Animal Practice" as a gimmicky, broad comedy, but let's not forget that "Friends" included a primate early on. And clearly, Crystal has a magnetic screen presence.
Says trainer Tom Gunderson, "She's the Angelina Jolie of monkeys."
"Animal Practice" will have a special sneak preview Aug. 12 after the Olympics Closing Ceremonies.