It’s hard out there for a chimp

By Guest Blogger, Julie Farin (

What’s wrong with giving a chimpanzee a guest-starring role on a popular network TV show?

October 12 - sad_chimp After all, chimps have been entertaining audiences in film and television for years – Cheeta of Tarzan fame, who was last seen enjoying his golden years in Palm Springs as an “ape-stract” painter and author, detective Lancelot Link and his sidekick Mata Hairi, who co-starred in the popular Saturday morning children’s TV show Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, and countless other talented simians whose amusing antics have been featured in advertisements for and other products and services over the years.

So, it was a bit of a surprise when Variety published a story citing the uproar caused by PETA when ABC Entertainment announced that its popular primetime TV show, Dancing with the Stars, planned a funny stunt to feature a chimp as a guest judge this week alongside Len, Bruno, and Carrie Ann. It seems the animal rights group contacted the show’s executive producer, Conrad Green, and put enough pressure on him to cancel the segment, turning this chimp into a chump.

"I do appreciate your point that showing a chimpanzee on our show may indirectly lead to other chimpanzees being ill-treated in the future," Green wrote in an e-mail to PETA, according to Variety. 

Now I am an animal lover, a supporter of various animal rescue groups, and the proud owner of one of Cheeta’s original paintings (which I consider a masterpiece). However, I fail to understand how a harmless segment meant for comic relief, which would probably only spotlight the chimp signaling a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” reaction to the competing couples’ dance routines would be categorized as “abuse” or “ill-treatment.”  

Is anyone concerned about the ill-treatment of the dancing couples, whose numerous physical injuries have been well documented during these competitions, not to mention the constant verbal abuse they endure from the human judges – especially Len Goodman, the surly Brit? Where is the outrage over that?  

The way I see it, this particular protest was much ado about nothing; all it did was prevent a talented chimp and its owner/trainer from earning a living, while giving me another good reason not to tune in to this once entertaining show. Ungawa!

8 thoughts on “It’s hard out there for a chimp

  1. Careful, Julie. He may have worked for scale at the time, but PETA may dig that up and bring in the ACLU for discrimination…

  2. Julie Farin is so on the money with this one. Remember J. Fred Muggs, one of the early stars of NBC’s “Today”? I’d put Muggs up against Kathie Lee any day of the week. Why, chimpanzees have even played a role in electing the American president. Bonzo, a Hollywood chimp, was Ronald Reagan’s co-star in 1951’s “Bedtime for Bonzo,” one of his most popular flicks. It was directed by Fred DeCordova of “Tonight” fame. And I just love the “chimp to chump” line.

  3. That makes a lot of sense, Art. It seems to me that Newkirk is trivializing the legitimate work of Animal Rights by wasting time with frivolous claims like this one.

  4. Having been in the pharmaceutical industry, I can tell you that PETA loves opportunities like this to get its name out there. Doesn’t matter how ridiculous the claim, they will do what it takes to get press coverage. Ingrid Newkirk, PETA founder, is a self-described “media whore”. There you have it.

  5. you failed to mention that the chimp is probably a better actor than most of the network’s sitcom stars…