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Elizondo Joins 'Monk' Cast

Veteran Emmy Award-winning actor Hector Elizondo will play the shrink to Tony Shalhoub’s obsessive-compulsive detective character when USA Network's Monk series returns for its seventh season July 18.

Elizondo, who won an Emmy for his role as Dr. Phillip Watters on CBS’ Chicago Hope and has appeared in numerous movies and television shows, will fill the void as Monk’s therapist left by the unexpected passing of actor Stanley Kamel last month. 

“Monk will always need a therapist - and it's a part that is pivotal to the central themes of the show,” said Jeff Wachtel, USA’s executive vice president, original programming in a statement. “When we lost Stanley, we knew we needed an actor who could bring warmth, intelligence and humor to the role. Hector was actually the first person that came to mind, and we are incredibly fortunate that he's agreed to do some episodes with us.  Stanley can never be replaced, but we think he’d be very pleased with our choice.”

The show is coming off its best ratings performance ever -- it averaged 6.1 million viewers over six episodes during the second half of its sixth season, which began Jan. 11.

The Feb. 22 sixth season finale drew a series high 6.8 million viewers, according to USA.