on Location in San Francisco 11/17/05
Monk is set in beautiful
San Francisco where I live, the
series is mostly filmed in Los Angeles
(for season two, three and four,
Toronto for season one, Vancouver
for the pilot episode.) Once a year
the Monk cast and crew
make the journey north to do some
location filming in the City by
I got the tip (thanks, Tami!) that
they would be here, I put on my
detective hat. First, I called the
San Francisco Film Commission. They
were thrilled to confirm that Monk
would indeed be filming in the city
soon, but they didn't have anymore
details since no permits had yet
been filed. They advised me to call
was on November 2nd. The film commission
wouldn't open until 9:00am the next
morning, so in the meantime I had
another clue to follow up on.
a line in some pages I have from
the final script for the season,
"Mr. Monk and the Fashion Show,"
in which a character says "She's
in Golden Gate Park, on a shoot.
You can come with me."
FASHION SHOOT- SAN FRANCISCO- DAY
At a GREAT SAN FRANCISCO LOCATION-
to be announced.
I headed to Golden Gate Park at
6:00am the next morning with my
walking shoes on. If I didn't find
them by 9:00am, I could try the
Film Commission again. No luck,
but I had a nice walk in the park.
(I think that's what they call a
in the morning I called them back
at the Commission. Had Monk
applied for their permits yet? No,
they had not and the very nice woman
at the Film Commission didn't think
they'd arrive until the next week.
but undeterred, I called back on
Monday the 7th, Tuesday the 8th,
Wednesday the 9th and Thursday the
10th. At that point I figured they
must have me pegged for a lunatic
and I might not get any information
even if they had it. So I convinced
my roommate David to take over.
"What do I say?" he asked.
make up something," I told
didn't call them until Tuesday the
15th. He reported to me sadly that
evening. The film commission still
knew nothing about where Monk would
be filming and even though David
had made up some silly story about
delivering a cake to the film crew
and charmed a young lady there into
double checking with everybody,
the only advice she had was to check
with the City Parks people. Permits
for filming in the parks are issued
from them. She gave him the number.
called and left them a message that
night and sent them an email the
next day. Had anyone from Monk applied
for permits to film in Golden Gate
Park? I asked. They replied almost
immediately: No. The only permits
they had given for Monk
were for Huntington Park that afternoon
(Wednesday, the 16th) and the next
day for Union Square. Finally, jackpot!
I got off work I hurried to Huntington
Park. I arrived too late. Dusk had
already fallen and they had wrapped
for the day. Their long trailers
still surrounded the park and I
approached a woman at one of them.
"Hi," I said. "So
what's going on here?"
filming a television series,"
she said, "with Tony Shalhoub.
Have you heard of it?" (For
some reason, this question never
fails to astonish me. Hasn't everyone
heard of it? Guess not.)
I think I have. Are you finished
for the day?"
but we're filming somewhere else
don't know yet."
do you do with the show?" I
the end of the following day I would
know what an important position
that was. I walked around for a
while to see if I recognized anybody,
but no. I went home and straight
to bed. Knowing how early they tend
to start filming I was up at 5:00am.
By the time I made it to Union Square
at 6:30am. They were already setting
sat on a bench in the park and pretended
to read a book (The Complete
Sherlock Holmes: I actually
did get through most of "The
Six Napoleans") while I watched
them. They were stringing electrical
cable all around the square and
setting up a fake water fountain.
One of the cable layers saw me watching.
"Something different this morning,
huh?" he said.
are you setting up for?" I
television show called Monk,"
he replied. "Have you heard
I have. That's cool."
continued their work and, unbeknownst
to me at the time, they were also
setting up a shot in the alley on
the other side of the square. I
saw one guy carrying a mannequin
in a flowered dress out of the square.
"You be careful with her,"
someone shouted. "That's my
up the fountain
(Click on little photos for larger
they set up the fountain, an older
homeless man, who probably considered
the square his own backyard, watched
intently. Finally, he smiled, shook
his head and cackled, "Heh,
heh, heh. A portable water fountain!
What will they think of next!"
And he left the square chuckling
A short time later, I was approached
by a security guard who'd been walking
around the square since I'd arrived.
was afraid he might want to throw
me out, but he smiled and said,
"So do you want to be on TV
feigned ignorance. "Is that
what's going on here today?"
They're filming a television show.
Monk. Have you heard of it?"
going to have a T-Shirt made that
says, Monk. Have you heard of
yes I have."
here. You know, that guy."
assumed he meant Tony Shalhoub.
just saw him," he said and
indicated the trailers behind me.
This guy gave a whole new meaning
to the word security.
I resisted the urge to jump up and
look. After all, I was trying to
he said. "Stay here and you
might be on TV."
he'd gone on, I did go back to have
a look. Nobody
was around the trailers, so I decided
to explore the area to see if I
could find Tony or anyone else I
found them on the other side of
the square, across Stockon Street
in an alley called Maiden Lane.
Lane in San Francisco
The shoe store, right, used in later
was tight and I couldn't get very
close. I decided to go around
and see if the other side of the
alley was more accessible, but
there was a young lady at the
other end as well asking people
to stay out. Even though I couldn't
see much, I hung out until they
said, "rolling!" and
I was told to move on. By then
it was after 8:00am and time for
me to go to work. I was more than
a little discouraged that I'd
seen so little action. I didn't
think it was going to make a very
with my morning results, I got the
afternoon off and returned to Union
Square a little after noon, with
a plan. I would plant myself near
the fountain they'd set up and wait
until they got there to film. My
plan didn't take into account the
unseasonably warm weather. It was
the hottest day we've had this year
in San Francisco and there wasn't
a cloud in the sky. I think it was
the Indian Summer we've been waiting
for, but from now on I'm going to
call it "Monk weather."
The only shade was in the shadow
of the Dewey Monument (est. 1903.)
Luckily the fake fountain was in
front of the Monument, so that's
where I waited.
there I was waiting near the fake
fountain, getting just a little
sleepy under the warm sun, when
I heard HIM.
we over this way?" said Tony
was right behind me. I almost jumped
out of my skin, I was so surprised.
By the time I had gathered my wits
he was past me and all I got was
this picture of his back.
Shalhoub passing by me
The best photo I got of this scene |
abandoned my fountain plan and followed
Tony to the other side of the park.
Once again it was difficult to get
close to the action. I found a shady
park bench and just to see what
the reaction would be, I asked the
older woman I sat next to if she
knew what they were filming.
she said. "Have you ever heard
that's a great show."
don't watch television,"
they finally finished the scene,
which as far as I could tellinvolved
Monk and Natalie being pursued
down a short flight of stairs,
I returned to my position by the
fountain. I didn't have very long
to wait. All the action began
to drift toward me. I just snapped
all the photos I could, because
I'm a lousy photographer and I
was hoping a few of them would
turn out to be use-able. Here
are some of the better ones (and,
no, that's not saying much) —
Traylor arrives at the scene. |
studies her lines
while Tony inspects the fountain.
is wired for sound.
they actually began shooting the
stand-ins were brought on while
the cameras were properly set.
Then it was time for hair, makeup
and wardrobe. Now people were
asking me THE question. "What
are they filming?" A red-headed
gentleman with an accent asked
with Tony Shalhoub. It's on the
USA Network Fridays at ten pm.
Where are you from?" I asked.
Traylor's and Tony's Stand-Ins
he said. "I don't think we
get the program there."
it's on in the UK, but not on
a regular basis. You have to look
for it." I
think that now makes me the unofficial
Monk international ambassador.
else asked, "Who is that
actress? Is that Meg Ryan?"
that's Traylor Howard," I
Will Smith in this?"
cable. They can't afford Will
the meantime everyone in the now
considerable crowd was advised
to refrain from taking any flash
pictures during filming (which
worked out great for me since
I didn't know how to use the flash
on the camera) and to remain quiet.
The crowd was hushed and they
were almost ready.
before the take:
comtemplates the scene |
assistant director (I think) explains
that she'll be getting wet.
wardrobe person walks by with
a towel and duplicate jacket.
ready to go.
missed getting the Traylor-sticks-her-arm-in-the-fountain
shot the first time around. You
can't see it here, but her hand
and sleeve were soaking wet. As
soon as they yelled cut, the wardrobe
people rushed out to dry her off
and giver her a duplicate jacket
for the next take.
director, in green left, was also
named Tony. I never did get his
last name [probably Palmieri.]
If you have any preconceived notions
about Hollywood directors this
guy could fulfill them. At one
point, he led the crowd in a chant
of "Go away, Sun! Go away,
Sun" because they couldn't
shoot until the sun went behind
a building and they got some shade.
when a take wasn't working out
he dropped to the ground and
exclaimed "You're killing
me! You're killing me!"
An assistant near me, in response
to a question from one of the
crew, rolled her eyes and said,
"Naw, he's always like
in the day, director and executive
producer Randy Zisk was on the
scene. I don't know that much
about it, but "Tony"
could have been a second unit
director. It may have been my
imagination, but it seemed to
me that Traylor was a little
shy around this particular director.
It she had concerns, she conveyed
them to Tony Shalhoub who explained
those concerns to the director,
such as "Traylor's not
happy with her performance in
Possibly my favorite picture
of the day,
Traylor makes Tony laugh.
Traylor dries off again it's time
for a reset! At this point in the
filming they stop to move the cameras
around to the other side of the fountain
and start all over again. The catering
person dashed out with a tray of much
needed frosty drinks for the cast
and crew. There were a few director's
chairs scattered around the monitors
just below me. Just when I didn't
think it could get any better, it
seems that Tony and Traylor had a
little down time which took place
about three feet in front of me. Tony
came over first and collapsed into
one of the chairs and Traylor switched
into yet another duplicate jacket.
(Who knows, maybe in between takes
they took the jackets away to be dried.)
during the reset
during the reset
and Taylor talk
The director tells them they're ready to
Scene, Better Angle
one more take
it was time for some hair poofing and wardrobe
adjustment while they reset for Traylor's
this time I noticed that the man himself,
Monk creator and head writer Andy Breckman,
was on the scene. So I snapped a few pictures
sun was still hanging around and someone
finally brought Traylor a pair of sunglasses.
Tony liked them so much he tried them on,
ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille"
it was time to dry off again, get a new
jacket and share another laugh with Tony.
a few more background shots the scene
was complete. I overheard someone say,
"Okay, we're going to the shoe store."
So I knew where they were headed to next.
They began to break down the fountain
almost immediately. I took a detour on
the way to the shoe store for a picture
of Tony's trailer and a Universal Studios
transport truck. Exciting stuff.
to the shoe store:
Arthur Beren. It's one of those
very expensive shoe stores with
very ugly shoes (well, I guess some
people like them) that you'll find
dotted all around Union Square,
San Francisco's shopping Mecca.
By that time, it was twilight and
they'd brought out all the bright
lights. I was able to make my way
over to the other side of the street
and get a pretty good spot behind
the sound guys' cart. Tony and Traylor
were waiting outside, ready to run
in for their scene. There were other
fans outside the store: a few giggling,
breathless young women, who would
have been mystified by "Monk.
Have you heard of it?" They
were as thrilled as I was, more
so, when Traylor walked over our
way after the first take. It seems
she wanted a little "privacy"
to make a cell phone call. |
can't be sure, but I think the number
she dialed was 555-1212.
I took a picture of that day's call sheet,
upside down on the sound cart, and when
I had a chance I crossed to the other
side of the store and caught Tony and
Traylor in conference with the director
on the way over.
I looked through the store window on the
other side, I could see that this was
the big scene for the mannequin I'd seen
carried out of Union Sqaure early that
morning. I'm not sure what she has to
with the scene, but she's important and
it involves removing her limbs.
through the window
did quite a few takes of this scene.
The stands-ins for Tony and Traylor
were next to me watching the scene.
I figured if I wanted to work up
the nerve to talk to Tony I should
start with his stand in, right?
So I said, "Hello, you're a
stand in, aren't you? Tony Shalhoub's
I am." He seemed pretty happy
I noticed him.
"Would you mind if I took a
your name?" I asked.
he said. "And you are?"
We shook hands.
got a website for the show,"
I told him. "Is it okay if
I run your picture."
you last name?" I asked.
You look familiar," he said.
"Have you been to a shooting
in New York," I said. (And
that was about a mile away, I should
have added, but didn't.)
was as close as I came to an interview
during the day.
Shoe Store Shots
they were finally finished, Traylor
came out and stood near me looking
around. "Randy," she called
out. (Zisk? Director? I'm guessing.)
I couldn't catch all he said, but
I did hear "We're going over
to the hotel now." Randy led
the way and the Monk people all
formed a straggly line and headed
for the St. Francis hotel across
the square. I had my eye on Andy
Breckman and Traylor Howard who
were both lagging behind talking
on their cell phones. I waited until
Andy had finished his call and then
I approached, determined not to
miss my chance.
just said, "Hi. You're Andy
Breckman, aren't you? The creator
right" he said.
just want to thank you and tell
you how great I think the show is,"
but how did you know my name?"
I've seen pictures of you."
I told him.
really are a fan," he said.
I even have a website," I said.
Monk web site?" he asked. "What's
Monk Fun Page. I'm really thrilled
you're shooting in San Francisco."
come once a year," he said.
I get a picture of you for the site?"
picture of me? You don't want a
picture of me," he said modestly.
(As a matter of fact, I'd already
taken many pictures of him during
you had your picture taken with
I haven't." (That was sort
of a lie. But the only picture I
have with him includes the back
of my head so that doesn't really
count.) I almost couldn't believe
it was happening: surreal
was the word for it.
on," he said and took my arm.
saw Traylor coming up behind us.
"There's Traylor, we'll get
a picture of you with her."
Then he noticed she wasn't alone.
She'd been joined by a very handsome
gentleman in his late thirties,
early forties with blondish curly
hair. "Wait, she's with somebody,"
he said. He waved her over. He introduced
us. We shook hands, said "Hello"
and Andy took the (blurry) picture.
Traylor introduced Andy to her gentleman
friend whose name I can't remember
(Mark or John or something; I'm
pretty sure it wasn't Og.) The friend
reached out to shake Andy's hand.
Andy made a Monk move and drew back.
"Don't worry," Traylor
said to her friend, "It's not
you, he's the one who's sick."
I couldn't tell if her friend thought
it was funny, but I thought it was
walked over to the hotel where they
were setting up the scene. "They're
ready to rehearse," Andy said.
"We'll have to wait a while."
I had a front row seat (we were
standing actually, but you know
what I mean) right next to Andy
as they rehearsed and blocked the
scene. Randy Zisk, the director
was there too. When they were done
Andy whispered "What's your
told him and then he took me over
to Tony and Andy said, "This
is Teresa. She's got a Monk web
site. It's called...." He looked
to me for help.
Monk Fun Page," I said, wishing
right then that I had thought of
a better title for it. Tony sort
of cocked his head and I think the
name of the page may have set off
a spark of recognition, because
I did mention it to him when we
first met, but he didn't seem sure
and if he remembered me he didn't
say so. Tony was a little distracted
at first, still thinking about the
scene they'd just rehearsed, but
then he gave me his full attention.
Andy took the picture, while Tony
gave him instructions on how to
use the camera. I gave him the very
brief squeeze, to which he seemed
receptive and told him it was from
Raven in Wisconsin. He did a Monk
like move, stepping back and lifting
his hands almost identical to the
performance Andy had just given
for Traylor's friend. He said, "Do
I know her. She sounds kind of scary"
and he laughed. They were ready
to shoot after that, so I backed
off to let them work.
I was pushed back behind the security
line with the rest of the crowd
when they started to roll, but
that was fine with me. I'd had
my moment. And besides, the last
set of my digital camera batteries
were finally running down. I did
get a few more pictures out of
Shots of the Westin St. Francis
Hotel decorated for Monk
guess the Monk cast and crew are
accustomed to the long hours,
but it was almost 8:00pm I'd been
up since 5:00am and I hadn't eaten
since that morning. Despite the
adrenalin rush (or maybe because
of it,) I was beat and they still
had a long way to go and my camera
batteries were officially dead.
I decided to leave and walked
by Tony and Traylor waiting for
yet another take to begin. "Good
night," I said. Tony waved
and winked and gave my perfect
day a perfect ending.
I left that evening I asked one
of the crew where they would be
shooting the next day. He knew
they would be in North Beach,
but he couldn't tell me where.
I couldn't get the next day off
of work, but I knew Fan4sure was
in the East Bay and wouldn't mind
crossing the bridge to try and
pick up the slack. So I gave her
the tip and pointed her towards
Washinton Square Park where Monk
has been known to film before.
too, was on Cloud 9 (for
a little while anyway).
It certainly was an exciting
few days around the SF
area. I wasn't able to
join Teresa on Thursday
at Union Square but I
did go to San Francisco
Friday when she told me
they were filming again
in the North Beach area,
just not sure exactly
where. She made a suggestion
to look near Washington
Square park. Man, she's
good because when I got
there I found lots of
no-parking signs marked
"Fri 11/18 2-8pm
Monk." It was 2:15
pm and I was so excited.
I hadn't missed them!
A funny thought popped
into my head for a moment
because this area was
in front of St. Peter
and Paul's Church, "I
hope this isn't for some
visiting religious Monk
instead of the Monk crew."
a couple huge trucks pulled
up with equipment (lights,
tripods, etc) and parked
there. My husband and
I sat in the park anxiously
waiting (and waiting).
we waited (and waited)
a big black limo kept
coming by really slow
and my heart would beat
really fast (is it "them"!?).
But they didn't stop.
more trucks, equipment, and
people started coming. I expected
any minute "something"
would start. Then two limos
pulled up. Could it be!? No.
Did I mention we waited alot?
Later, a big huge glamorous
silver bus came into view and
I thought this has got to be
them. It slowed down, stopped,
then left. Then they started
loading everything up in the
trucks, grabbed the no-parking
signs and left. And so did we.
No more waiting. All I have
to show for my adventure is
a picture of one of the no-parking
Earlier, I stopped by "Monk's
place" on Taylor and Broadway
to take a picture. It was cool
to see it in person. I wasn't
sure if I would recognize it
or not but no problem. (I'm
holding up the street light)
Today, Teresa had another lead
on more filming going on in
San Francisco, just not sure
what for. I was ready to head
over there on a moments notice
from her if it was Monk. More
waiting and waiting, but I am
getting really good at it! It
turned out to be for something
has been a fun roller coaster
ride the last few days with
the prospect of getting to watch
them film an episode!
my tip was a little bit off. Sorry
about that, Fan4Sure. However, another
Monk fan who didn't have
the "benefit" of foreknowledge,
did happen to come across them shooting....