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[08/31/04 - 12:00 AM]
'Monk' Surprise: Schram Exits Sharona Role
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- "Monk" has a new crime to solve as co-star Bitty Schram will not return to her Golden Globe-nominated role of Sharona Fleming when the series returns for the remainder of its third season in January.

"'Monk' has decided to go in a different creative direction with some of its characters," a USA spokesman said in a statement to the press. "Bitty will not continue with the cast and we thank her for her notable contributions and wish her the very best." Executive producer David Hoberman told Daily Variety that he and "Monk" creator Andy Breckman "haven't dealt with the story [of her character's departure] yet." Nevertheless, a casting search is underway for a new female cast member to "serve a similar role" to lead Tony Shalhoub. It's understood said new character will be a thirtysomething widow who works as a bartender.

5.1 million viewers (4.1 household rating) on average tuned into "Monk's" nine-episode run this summer, up 18% in year-to-year comparisons.





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· MONK (USA)





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