Kramer almost played Monk — and Monk almost played Kramer!

Tony Shalhoub and Michael Richards nearly swapped their iconic TV roles.

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Television history would have looked mighty different had casting gone a different way. By strange coincidence, both Seinfeld and Monk considered the same two actors for iconic roles. Let's start with the sitcom.

Seinfeld auditioned several fascinating alternates for Jerry's friends. Danny DeVito and Steve Buscemi were reportedly floated for the role of George Costanza. While it is difficult to imagine anyone else as Kramer, a different quirky actor was up for the job. (Seinfeld co-creator eventually settled on his old pal Michael Richards, as the two had worked together as cast members on the late-night sketch comedy series Fridays.)

"Tony Shalhoub was initially considered for the part," the Sacramento Bee wrote in 2004. At the time, at the close of the Eighties, Shalhoub had just a few stereotypical roles to his credit — a terrorist on The Equalizer, a doctor on Spencer: For Hire. No project had adequately tapped into his comedic potential. Playing wacky, stumbling, bumbling neighbor Cosmo Kramer certainly would have set his career off on a different track. But, really, despite losing the role, he ended up in a rather similar place. Shortly thereafter, he won a key recurring spot on Wings, playing the Italian taxi driver Antonio Scarpacci. While not as full-on slapstick as Kramer, this character at least showcased Shalhoub's comedic chops.

While Wings was a breakthrough role for Shalhoub, it wasn't quite a lead role. The spotlight would not fully shine on Shalhoub alone until he took the title role of Monk in 2002.

But here's where it gets interesting — Kramer, a.k.a. Michael Richards, was the original choice to play Monk!

Monk went through a lengthy and belabored genesis. The detective series was original conceived at ABC, years before it ended up on cable and the USA Network. The network targeted Richards to play a more bumbling detective, along the lines of Inspector Clouseau. It was reported that Richards "turned down the role." 

What's weird about all this is Richard did essentially play this role — on his own forgotten series, The Michael Richard Show.

The Michael Richard Show ran for two months on NBC in the fall of 2000. The mystery-sitcom centered around Vic Nardozza, a quirky private eye in Los Angeles. It has since been dubbed the first example of the dreaded "Seinfeld curse" — one of many flops from the cast, as they struggled to break free of their pigeonholes. Richard and the other creators (largely Seinfeld writing alums) envisioned Nardozza as a "Columbo type" — an eerily similar description of Monk's origins.

That makes it a little hard to believe that Richards would turn down Monk, considering he crafted a similar role for himself that same year. 

David Hoberman, co-creator and executive producer or Monk, said in the book Monk: The Official Episode Guide, "I can't express how depressing those [early Monk] casting sessions were. We had people coming in doing tics and Tourette's syndrome, and you name it. Everybody felt that they needed to embody an extreme physicality for Monk. But that would have gotten old and annoying very quick."

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Olivia_Reed 2 months ago
Am I the only person on earth who couldn't stand "Monk"? And what is it doing on a nostalgia TV channel? This show is barely cold in its grave, having gone off the air in 2009. Tony Shalhoub was hilarious in "Wings" but "Monk" was just plain irritating. There are SO many great shows from the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s that are languishing in obscurity. Bring THEM back, not some bizarre mystery from the 2000s!
LoveMETV22 2 months ago
Funny the fictitious restaurant that Kramer and the other Seinfield cast met at was Monk's Cafe. Lol
Greg 3 months ago
I could see Tony Shalhoub as Kramer he's a great underrated actor.
lynngdance 3 months ago
We have a winner!
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lynngdance MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
Thank you, and it’s alright that ya didn’t show up, no problem 🙂
lynngdance LoveMETV22 3 months ago
Thank you very much! 😃
TheDavBow3 lynngdance 3 months ago
😄 my family is on vacation this week and I'm not looking at my phone quite as much 😋. I really loved the Beatles connection of the quiz 👍
lynngdance TheDavBow3 3 months ago
Thanks! (Us Beatles fans have to stick together 😜)
lynngdance 3 months ago
Connecting The Dots
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Someone requested I do another quiz on Saturday, so you’re invited! It’ll be at 5:00 PM, Saturday, and the location is the Mary Tyler Moore article.😄
!!Wanted!! but preferred Alive
Those that wish to participate in the Weekly Movie Quiz.
Reward:
Conversation as to what this movie might be
Winners name in MeTV Lights
Just plain ole fun
Let's Do it at: Monk proved Tony Shalhoub was definitely leading man material (stories)
Friday @ 10:00 P.M CT
The Show Must Go On-Another knock down quizorama and entertainment.
Fantastic 🤗 I'll see ya there....Finally get a break today 👏
hippie007 3 months ago
worst show you put on monk !!!! why not Rockford Files or harry o ! and you just had to move honey mooners to 11 o'clock that sucks
TheDavBow3 hippie007 3 months ago
Harry O would be cool! I remember that one as a kid
tmac1951 hippie007 3 months ago
It’s only going to get worse
hippie007 TheDavBow3 3 months ago
how do we all get me tv to listen to us viewers
lynngdance TheDavBow3 3 months ago
You’re invited to my quiz Saturday! (Somebody requested I do another) it’ll be at 5:00 PM, And the location is the Mary Tyler Moore article! 😁
LoveMETV22 3 months ago
Just a thought. Why not swap Monk for Seinfeld. Monk (2002-2009), Seinfeld (1989-1998) Not quite as recent, It's a sitcom. Not sure who currently owns the rights though. Oh well just a thought.
tmac1951 LoveMETV22 3 months ago
Next month they will show reruns of Chicago pd
djfone 3 months ago
In the article above, author David Hoberman writes "I can't express how depressing those [early Monk] casting sessions were. We had people coming in doing tics and Tourette's syndrome, and you name it. Everybody felt that they needed to embody an extreme physicality for Monk. But that would have gotten old and annoying very quick."

Sounds like Edward Norton in the otherwise excellent "Motherless Brooklyn", the worst title for a good movie EVER.
joedib65 3 months ago
I missed the episode Return to Mayberry and want to know when it will be shown.
Please let me know. That show is my very favorite.

joe dibenedetto
joedi1@frontiernet.net
bumples 3 months ago
Tony Shaloub DID have a lead role in his own sitcom after Wings...STARK RAVING MAD...it was AWESOME...the fools at NBC killed it...
bumples bumples 3 months ago
It was better than Monk
Michael bumples 3 months ago
I don't have much memory of tge show, other than I liked it and was disappointed when it was cancelled.

But even though Neil Patrick Harris plays the editor, my vague memory remembers him being the main character. It was more about him than Tony Shaloub. But I've not seen it since it first aired.

Neil Patrick Harris plays the neurotic character, Tony Shaloub's character is very different from Monk.
JamesB 3 months ago
This story misspells "The Michael Richards Show" and then doubles down to misspell it twice. If you close your eyes, you aren't invisible, you know. That show would have been better if USA Network had produced it, as it would have freed the character from being "Kramer, P.I." as NBC seemed to desire. "Monk" is a terrific show with Tony Shalhoub's characterization. I would guess that Michael Richards would have adapted Adrian Monk to be a bit more worldly but less precise, so who knows if that would have worked! As for MeTV and "newer" syndicated shows, I like it. I am not a fan of bland family shows (Waltons, Little House) and often prefer MeTV's sister "Decades" programming but the nostalgia business isn't all french fries and Cherry Coke. Perhaps one day, we'll be treated to "The Life of Riley", William Bendix version...
tmac1951 JamesB 3 months ago
My dog puts her head behind the drapes, I can’t see her
FLETCH 3 months ago
I've never seen a single episode of Monk. Looking forward to watching it. I hope it doesn't disappoint
djfone FLETCH 3 months ago
When you do get around to watching "Monk", pay special attention to Randy Newman's opening theme lyrics. They spell out the show perfectly.
tmac1951 FLETCH 3 months ago
I’ll be in the backyard watching my grass grow
Oldielover 3 months ago
And this is why these two shows lasted so long. Because they chose the right person in the right role. The other way around would have made their careers a bit shorter.
jwoods7665 3 months ago
Wow fascinating.... Still won't watch. Thanks for moving away from classic tv. Appreciate it.
Stefanie24 jwoods7665 3 months ago
Ditto. Won't watch though I don't think MeTV gives a flying fig.
tmac1951 jwoods7665 3 months ago
Should I watch my grass grow or paint dry??
tmac1951 Stefanie24 3 months ago
I think fig should be a four letter word, but your right they dont
stephaniestavr5 tmac1951 3 months ago
I have another choice: watching a person grow. This way you can change off. Watch each of the three for a week, than switch.
jimmyvici 3 months ago
Never got into Monk. Never will. Richards, in my opinion, was the reason to watch Seinfeld. Giddy up.
jimmyvici 3 months ago
This comment has been removed.
harlow1313 3 months ago
Well, I would like to see "The Twilight Zone" lead into Svengoolie, followed by a dose of Hitchcock. Of course, I would always welcome "Dark Shadows." Heck, I want a whole day of horror.
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I do the same thing. I also watch shows that I have on dvd. Its another mystery of life: Why someone would watch something they have on dvd? When one of the reasons they got the show, is so they could watch it when the wanted. They weren't dictated by a station's schedule.
I was 5 when the show debuted. I remember (I probably saw it, but I'm going by what I read later on,) Barnabas' first episode April 16th[?] 1967, aired 4 days before my 6th birthday. But when I got older, I remember better, both my sister and I watching it at our grandparent's (mom's parents) house. I remember sitting on the floor in the middle of the living room watching it. (Remember, you had to sit a fer piece away from the tv, or you'll hurt your eyes!) I can remember grandma leaving the room so we could watch it. I think our mom stayed. Grandma came back and said: "Isn't this over yet?" Sometimes she'd come in at the closing credits, or if there was still a minute or two of show left.
Did you ever get involved with any of the DS fan clubs? I did couple of them. They would put out fanzines. Even though I saw this decades ago, I still remember it: One of the 'zines along with stories, etc., had cartoons. The only one I've managed to remember is this one: (I might be off a bit, I'm a sexagenarian, so I have an excuse!) There are two female fans standing in from of a # of up raised legs. One of the fans said to the other: "Quentin just walked through the room." (Or something like that.) Those legs belonged to fans that had fainted!
I had the hots, (as hot as a preteen could have,) for Barnabas. My sister liked Quentin.
Did you have the DS album? (The one with the bonus poster?) Do you remember these two tracks from it:
Don't remember it's title, but it's a spoken word track.
"Shadows Of The Night."
"Shadows of the night, falling silently. Echoes of the past, calling you to me...."
"In this world that we know now, life is here and gone. But somewhere in the after glow, love lives on and on.
Here's a bit of another spoken word by Barnabas:
"I, Barnabas."
Silence! Out of nowhere do they appear and into infinity they fly! I wonder if those that are sleeping in the ground, are disturbed by the throbbing sound of a one way path to eternity?
I Barnabas, lie in deep sleep on my bed of purple velvet. Asleep, but awake to your thoughts, your feelings, your desires...."
I did not own the album, nor did I belong to a club (To paraphrase Groucho, I would not want to belong to a club that would have me as a member). I, too, am a sexagenarian.

The spoken words you remember are poetic.

From boyhood, I best remember Barnabas' angst, particularly when Josette jumps from Widows' Hill, rather than join her lover's dark world.
tmac1951 stephaniestavr5 3 months ago
Pluto is free, there is an app for it on apple, but you can get it on internet also FREE
mackjaz harlow1313 3 months ago
Isn't that interesting? I have Kolchak on DVD, but I still get a special thrill when it's actually on TV. I think I get the feeling I'm somehow responsible for introducing new viewers to this great show.
daDoctah 3 months ago
I used to watch Fridays and I remember well Michael Richards' character on there that used to quiver and twitch his way through every sketch he was in.
bumples daDoctah 3 months ago
Does anyone remember a skit from one of the 80's scetch shows that featured a skit ad for "The White-trash Troubador"? One song was "sloppy joe" ...It was similar to ads for Slim Whitman records...too funny!
Michael 3 months ago
Michael Richards on Seinfeld was slapstick. He was beyond quirky. I don't see what they saw in that to fit Monk.

But like I said before, Tony Shaloub on Wings was quirky, and Monk is just an extension of that.

If Michael Richards was Monk, it would be a different show.
dujon55 3 months ago
Never really got into Monk. But that theme song”it’s a jungle out there” is terrific
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