Monday, April 10, 2006


Monkey (Show) Business

Maybe Planet of the Apes wasn't too far off the mark. Monkeys will not act for bananas anymore. NBC recently reported that the fee to hire a monkey to perform in a film has shot up a whopping 20 percent over last year's asking price. Why? Well, apparently one day last year, 16 highly skilled monkey actors gave up the biz. That was followed shortly by the exodus of 12 more monkeys -- some too old, others offered an early retirement by wealthy animal activists. The resulting shortage of monkey actors resulted in the sharp spike in asking price. Some animal activists have lobbied the idea of an Animal Equity Union, which would result in a Kong-sized retirement package (valued in the millions) for the simian thespians. But that idea does not appear to have strong support in the industry. Monkeys have been a mainstay of the movie biz from the earliest Tarzan films on, including (and perhaps most famously) Bedtime for Bonzo, Every Which Way But Loose, and most recently, The Shaggy Dog. In a couple of cases, monkeys have seen their co-stars obtain political positions -- Clint Eastwood as Mayor or Carmel and Ronald Reagan as President of the United States. Can the political ambitions -- like that of their fictitious brethren in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes -- be far behind for these better paid actors?

The sad thing is that these monkeys probably already earn more than most teachers, social workers, child care providers and other human service technicians. Now, their retirement will be more lucrative and secure than people who have dedicated their whole lives to helping other people.
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