auction proceeds went to one of
Tony Shalhoub's favorite charities,
Imus Ranch for Kids. After getting
our input, the Monkfest organizer,
Hutton and Monk co-producer,
Nabors, scheduled our set visit
for June 5th. We had a little less
than three months to prepare. I
don’t know about Spinner,
but for most of that time I found
it hard to think about anything
Lee and Michael
|If you'd like to skip right to
the part where we get to the Monk
set, click here.
Park figues by Liv have been substituted
when and where photos were unavailable
and sometimes just when I felt like
ONE: LOCATIONS, LOCATIONS, LOCATIONS
couldn’t bring guests to
the set visit, but a couple of
old friends of mine, Seth and
Tony, made the six hour drive,
in the mega-van we'd rented, down
the coast (we live in San Francisco)
with me to L.A., where Monk
is filmed. The Monk production
offices, as of March 2007, are
now at Paramount
Studios in Hollywood. Spinner
brought her husband Ralph along
all the way from Missouri.
(I’d like to say thank you
to all the guys for exhibiting
such patience with our nerves
and fan-ish behavior.)
we arrived on Saturday we had
yet to hear from the Monk
people confirming our visit on
the Tuesday. We had no contact
information and I couldn’t
get a hold of Lee either. (It
wasn’t until the morning
after our visit that we learned
had passed away.) I had an
unpleasant feeling the set visit
might not happen, but everyone
was trying to stay positive.
on Saturday morning my entourage
and I picked up Spinner and Ralph
at LAX. We'd only met virtually,
so we needed a way to recognize
each other. We both wore our Monk
t-shirts and I carried a sign
that said SPINNER in the Monk
font. Lucky for us no one else in
the airport decided to wear their
Monk t-shirt that morning
and we had no trouble finding each
was a little while before we could
check into our hotel, so we found
a local Hollywood coffee shop and
became a little better acquainted.
I pulled out my screen shots of
Monk L.A. locations. We
settled on Astro
Family Restaurant ("Mr.
Monk and the Kid") in the nearby
Silver Lake district as our first
destination, after the motel and
a nap, of course.
motel was the beautiful Econo
Lodge in downtown Hollywood.
Well, not exactly beautiful, but
it was the closet accommodation
to Paramount that I could find
and it certainly lived up to its
name. The motel was acceptably
clean and the staff was enchantingly
Above: me, Ralph, Spinner and
Tony in front of the Hollywood
Below: my buddy Tony flaunts the
motel's finest attribute.
we'd all had a chance to freshen
up and do a quick bed bug check,
we hit the road again and headed
for Astro Family Restaurant which
was only about ten minutes away.
We took some exterior shots, including
the gas station across the way,
and then went in and ordered a little
food as a pretense for the interior
Monk and the Kid"
The gas station across the street
had a little time to kill before
our reservations at Miceli's that
evening, so we decided to make a
quick trip to the closest Home Depot.
I had some reliable information
that we could find Monk's favorite
Sierra Springs bottled water there.
Sure enough right at the front of
the store was a huge end stand of
Sierra Springs water just waiting
for us. We each grabbed a case.
Our second Monk mission
had been accomplished.
we were off to Miceli's,
the Hollywood Italian bistro featured
Monk and the Godfather."
Seth and I had dined there and
taken pictures last July when
we went down for the Monk
Episode Guide and Mr.
Monk Goes to Hawaii book
signings. We were warmly greeted
this time by the same singing
waiter, Sargis, who had served
us on the first occasion. He even
remembered us. He seated us in
the 3rd floor balcony where we
had a great view of the performances.
Miceli's is decorated with chianti
bottles signed by guests which
hang from the ceiling... sort
of like ketchup bottles. During
the meal, Tony, who's something
of an artist, asked for his own
bottle to decorate. He created
a Monk motif. We all
signed it and Sargis hung it up
1646 N. Las Palmas Ave
Hollywood CA 90028
a quick walk up nearby Hollywood Blvd.
to work off the food and the wine,
before heading back to our hotel.
hit the two major Southern California
tourist attractions, Universal Studios
and Disneyland, one after the other
starting with Universal on the Sunday.
has some Universal connections.
First and foremost USA
Network comes under the NBC
Universal umbrella. Second Monk
frequently films on Universal's
humungous back lot. One of the easiest
to find locations, because it's
on the studio tour, is the Mexican
town from "Mr.
Monk Goes to Mexico."
"Mr. Monk Goes
to Mexico" |
our studio tour there was a brief
mention of Monk as we drove
past Universal's New York Street.
Our tour guide Brian said that "Monk
starring Tony Shalhoub" was
scheduled to film soon on the street.
I couldn't just let that go by.
I had to have more details. I tracked
down our guide when the tour was
over and demanded to know more...
I mean... um, graciously asked for
more information. Apparently he'd
misspoke (or more likely he was
adhering to an outdated script.)
Monk wasn't going to be
filming soon. They already had filmed
there a few weeks ago on New York
Street. "There was a fire engine,"
Brian recalled. "So look for
the episode with a fire engine."
Seth and I
Brian our tour guide |
On tour: I'm in the Shark seat
the glimpse of Mexico and the fire
engine tip on the studio tour, there
wasn't much Monk on the
lot. We had some fun anyway, particularly
at the Blues Brothers' Show. Seth
just loves that show and he took
the stage when they invited him
to join them. Spinner got an invitation
of her own and took a spin on the
dance floor with Elwood Blues.
Fred (Ralph) and
Wilma (Spinner) |
to get us all lost
Seth takes a bow
park closed at 6:00pm. They were
holding the MTV
Awards Show, hosted by none
other than Monk guest star
Silverman (Marci Maven, "TV
Star," "Biggest Fan")
who I understand said something
really mean about Paris Hilton during
the event, but we missed all that
because they kicked out us regular
folks. We did some shopping on the
City Walk, then went back to
there, we decided to do a little
reconnaissance mission. Our little
group, minus Ralph who decided to
kick back at the hotel, walked the
four blocks over to Paramount. It
was almost dark and it was Sunday
so there was nothing much going
on and no outward visible signs
of a Monk presence, but we checked
out the different gates, wondering
which, if any, we'd be going through
cheered us up so much that we
stopped at the Pavilions grocery
store next to our hotel to pick
up a couple of bottles of wine.
One of those bottles was a cabernet
from the Firestone winery, where
"Mr. Monk Gets Drunk"
was filmed. After all, we had
to stay with the theme of the
joined us and we sat on the balcony
of our hotel room, drank our wine,
ate the homemade cookies I'd brought
and talked about Monk
and music and acting and John
Wayne and I'm a little fuzzy
on the other topics. On the balcony
next door a dance troop was apparently
rehearsing and we listened to
the choreographer bark out his
instructions. It gave the evening
a surreal touch. Next to the actual
set visit, that may have been
the most fun I had all weekend.
DAY THREE: DISNEYLAND
Disneyland was sort of a blur for
me on the Monday. With California
Adventure thrown in, it's like
two theme parks in one and there's
really no hope of doing everything
in one day (especially considering
the Disneyland railroad was shut
down for the day.) Still we squeezed
in as much as we could. I know Spinner
and I were both fretting over the
lack of communication from the Monk
people and not enjoying ourselves
as wholeheartedly as we might have.
However, I did pick up some lovely
Spinner, Teresa, Tony,
Ralph and Seth do Disneyland!
Tony, Goofy &
Ralph at Goofy's Kitchen |
Dale and Ralph share
a bonding moment.
The Jungle Cruise |
The Palace of Fine
Ralph, Spinner, me & Seth
Left: The Tower of Terror
Right: The Matterhorn
(locations), Sunday (Universal)
and Monday (Disneyland) came and
went: still no word from the Monk
people telling us when to show
up or where to go or any acknowledgement
at all. I wasn’t too hopeful,
and I don’t think Spinner
was either, by the time we got
back to the motel Monday night.
Neither of us slept much. Nevertheless,
Tuesday morning we showed up at
8:00am (a time we choose arbitrarily)
bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and
expecting to be sent away with
that tail between our legs.
chauffeur and Monk
Fun Page photographer, Seth,
who was in charge of the mega-van,
drove us up to the famous Paramount
Melrose gate. We presented our
I.D.s and I gave the speech, "We're
here to see Doug Nabors with the
at the gate did not have our names
on his list. My heart sank. I’ve
always wanted a major studio to
put my name on their list…
you know, in a good way. He directed
us to a parking space and to the
guest services kiosk across the
way, where we could plead our
case. Seth stuck around in case
we needed a ride back to the motel,
which at that moment seemed a
likely outcome. We gave the guest
services kiosk guard, a tall tough
looking bald man, our names and
I gave our spiel again: "We're
here to see Doug Nabors with the
gave Seth a questioning look.
“I’m just dropping
them off,” Seth told him.
“I want to make sure they
get in before I leave.”
guard called the Monk offices
as we anxiously awaited word on
our fate. I still expected to be
thrown out and I was thinking about
leading an expedition to the Bronson
Caves in Griffith Park where
some scenes from “Mr.
Monk Gets Married” were
filmed. After a very long moment
the guard was put on hold. He looked
over at Seth. "You can go,"
he said. "They're definitely
Spinner and the
in the background
declaration was all it took to make
our hearts soar. I don’t know
if I even said thank you to Seth
for driving us over. I do know I
missed him during the visit (or,
more specifically, I missed his
photographic skills.) The guard,
who didn't look nearly as tough
now, gave us each a guest pass with
a map and a list of rules. He drew
on Spinner’s map to show us
where to go. We followed his directions
past the administration building
and through another gate.
much nicer map of the Paramount lot in PDF
Here's the map the
guard gave us.
Click to enlarge
a couple of pictures before Spinner
noticed the rule on our passes
that said No, pictures allowed
without prior written permission.
to find the Monk offices
without getting lost. The large
Monk sign in the back
of a nearby truck and the little
Monk signs on the building
and by the elevator were easy
clues to follow.
Spinner at the
were greeted by office manager Nancy
Lopez. She was there with only one
other office worker, whose name
I didn’t catch. I don’t
think Nancy had any idea who we
were, so it was really nice that
she’d told the guard to let
us in anyway. We told her we were
there to see Doug Nabors, because,
after all, his name had gotten us
that Doug wasn’t due in
until 9:30 and then she put in
a call to Doug. He wasn’t
answering his cell phone, so she
left a message. She asked us if
we wanted to wait. Needless to
say, we did want to wait. She
told us to take a seat.
Monk production offices
at Paramount aren’t exactly
luxurious. The furniture was older
and merely functional. The floors
were concrete, except in our little
lounge area, which was carpeted.
Approximately what it might
have looked like if Seth had gone
with us and taken pictures.
wasn’t much in the way of
décor, perhaps because they’d
only recently moved in. (Their previous
digs, for seasons two through five,
had been at the nearby Ren
had a few industry magazines spread
out on the coffee table. I pretended
to read the latest issue of Variety
while we waited, but I was really
just keeping my ears and eyes open
and hoping no one came to the conclusion
that we really shouldn’t be
there. Spinner later told me she
had no such qualms at that point.
We were in and that was that.
40 something guy with graying hair came
in and the other office worker greeted
him as Mac. That has to be location manager
Gordon, I thought, an important part
of the Monk team. He went in
his office and I went back to pretending
to read the magazine. Every once in a
while busy looking people would wander
in and give us strange looks, but only
one guy was curious enough to ask why
we were there. “They’re waiting
for Doug,” he was told. Apparently
that explanation sufficed.
bubbly young blonde woman entered carrying
a tray of lattes. No, I couldn’t tell
they were lattes from where I was: that’s
what she said. I’m betting she was
an intern. She busied herself in the kitchen
and Nancy went out on an errand. Unnamed
office worker two offered to get us bottled
water or another beverage of our choice
and we took him up on it. Primarily, I was
interested to know what kind of bottled
water they served at the Monk office. Would
it be Sierra Springs? No. It was Sparklettes.
Same water; different label. Oh, well….
I was covered. I had a bottle of Sierra
Springs in my pocket. We’d all gone
to Home Depot on Saturday where Spinner
and I had both picked up a case. That’s
our idea of a good time.
returned. We waited some more. After seeing
an Emmy ad for The
Closer in the Variety
magazine I was reading, it occurred to me
they might have a similar Monk
ad. I checked through the magazine and quickly
found one. I reached over to show it to
Spinner and simultaneously she had found
a similar one in the issue of The
Hollywood Reporter she had picked
up. We were marveling at the coincidence
when Nancy got the call.
Doug had thought
our appointment was for the following
week, she told us. He and Tony weren’t
due in until 9:30am, but we weren’t
going to be kicked out. She’d been
asked to escort us over to the set on
we headed over I asked Nancy how long she’d
been with the show. She said she had just
joined them at the beginning of the season
when they’d made the move to Paramount.
I asked what time they’d come in that
morning. “6:00am,” she said.
(Too early for me: maybe I don’t want
to work in television.) I asked her who
worked in the offices. She explained that
the three desks in the middle of the floor
were the “Production Office”
the location manager’s office and
other department offices were behind them.
The producers were in the next space over
and the art department was on the other
side. I glimpsed inside that room, but nobody
seemed to be in yet.
we walked over to stage seven she asked
where we were from. Everybody asked us that.
A red light was flashing outside the stage
door, which indicated that they were filming.
So we cooled our heels for a few minutes.
I think we talked about the weather. When
the light went out, we went in.
Click to enlarge
We waited just inside the stage doors.
From our vantage point we couldn't see much
of the set, but what we could see was Tim
Bagley (Harold Krenshaw, "Girl
Who Cried Wolf," "Election,"
Shrink") on a hospital set, preparing
for another take. He was in a bathrobe,
pajamas and slippers. On the side of his
head we could see he had a large bandage.
He was with another actor we later learned
Koechner, who looked very familiar to
me. (It wasn’t until the end of the
day that I remembered where I knew him from.
He's the star and writer of a Comedy
Central show called The
Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show.
He's not the naked one.)
Nancy Lopez |
were lots of lights and cables and behind-the-scenes
guys and we squeezed against the wall, just
trying to stay out of everyone’s way.
They were ready to do the next take. Extras
filed past us: doctors, nurses and patients
lined up waiting for their cue to walk through
the scene. We couldn’t see Tim Bagley
at this point, but we could hear the dialogue.
Nancy stayed with us. During a brief break
I told her how exciting it all was for us,
but I asked if it was boring for her. “No,”
she said. She still thought it was interesting.
She did have to get back to the office,
however, which she planned to do as soon
as she’d handed us off to Stacey
(Christenson), the second assistant
turns out Stacey wasn’t available,
but there’s such a thing as a second
second assistant director. On the Monk
set that guy is Dominick
Scarola and he was appointed our handler,
at least until Doug arrived to take us off
his hands later in the morning. We thanked
Nancy and she took off. (If you’re
going to write
to any of the Monk cast I think it would
be cool to include a note to Nancy and tell
her what a good job she’s doing. She’ll
wonder how she got so famous.)
showed us over to what they called the “video
village.” This consisted of a couple
of monitors facing six director’s
chairs. The front and center chair was reserved
for the director, Jonathan
Collier. Jon is also a Monk
writer/producer. It was his first time directing
for the show. Next to him on one side was
the chair of director of photography, Joe
Panella. He’s an old hand at cinematography,
but apparently new to the show this season.
On the other side of the director was the
script coordinator, whose name I can’t
remember. Cathy, I think, or Karen. The
three chairs behind them are reserved for
the producers, including David
Zisk and Anthony
Santa Croce. I got to sit in Mr. Santa
Croce’s chair and Spinner got to sit
in Mr. Zisk’s. |
the 2nd 2nd AD, handed us each “the
sides” a set of script pages with
a cover sheet detailing the scenes to be
filmed that day, known as a call sheet.
It was small, only about six inches square
and very difficult to read. I’m pretty
sure Spinner found it impossible. He explained
that the crossed out sections of dialogue
in the script hadn’t been cut, they
just weren’t being filmed that day.
It was the last day of shooting for “Mr.
Monk and the Daredevil.” Most of the
scenes shot that day would be on the hospital
set. We were very lucky, since they weren’t
expecting us, that they were filming on
the lot that day. They could easily have
been on location and we would have missed
them all together. Dominick asked us where
we were from. He said he’d introduce
us to the director when he returned and
he told us to help ourselves to the breakfast
spread behind us at the back of the soundstage.
left for a moment and came back with Tim
Bagley. Tim, still in his bathrobe and slippers
greeted us and shook our hands. In person
Tim is actually quite handsome with striking
eyes. He welcomed us to the set and of course
he asked where we were from. We told him.
“Watch out for Tony,” he said
jokingly getting into character. “He’s
very mean.” He pointed at the bandage
on his head and said in his Harold voice,
“He did this to me.” He went
back on to the set, ready for his next scene.
Brigit Jones |
Jones introduced herself to us because
she’d overheard that Spinner was from
Missouri. She was also from Missouri. A
young woman who was working nearby with
the sound equipment (at least I think that’s
what she was doing) spoke up and said she
was from Missouri. They both mentioned which
towns, but I can’t remember them.
Sound girl also revealed that one of the
David Koechner, was also from Missouri
(Tipton MO.) I hope they made you feel more
at home, Spinner. It made me wonder why
everyone wants to leave Missouri.
Our AD then introduced
us to director Jon Collier. He was handsome
and gray haired and reminded me a little
of Richard Gere. I recognized Jon’s
name because he’s written a couple
of episodes (“Fashion Show”
and “Hospital”.) He joined
the writing staff at the beginning of
the fifth season. I had no idea he was
a director and later learned that it was
his first time directing for any TV Show.
Although he also wrote and produced for
of the Hill and The
Simpsons. He seemed to be doing
a great job. He wanted to know if we’d
been given a call sheet. We waved our
little pages at him. “Oh, no,”
he said. “Let’s get you something
a little larger."
He gave us the
full size (8 by 10) call sheet and script
pages. The busiest man on the set and
he was worried about us. Everybody was
so deferential to us that I thought they
must be thinking we were somebody we weren’t,
like network executives or Tony Shalhoub’s
sisters or something.
arrived shortly thereafter. We were introduced.
I admit I was a little surprised by David.
I met his brother Monk creator
and head writer, Andy
Breckman when he was here in San Francisco
for location shooting during the second
half of season four in November of 2005.
They look nothing alike to me. David appears
to be quite a bit younger. And while Andy
may be brilliant and um… sort of
cute… in a way… David’s
a handsome guy.
David and Andy Breckman
pretty smart as well and he took the opportunity
to pick our brains. He wanted to know
what our favorite episodes were. (This
was after he’d asked us where we
were from. He even seemed to know why
we were there. At least he knew we were
fans.) I was trying to think of an episode
I knew he’d written like “Mrs.
but instead I blurted out the truth, “Mr.
Monk Gets Drunk” which Dan Dratch
wrote. I think Spinner said “Garbage
Strike”, which I agreed was
one of my favorites, but Andy Breckman
wrote that one. Nonetheless David was
pleased that we’d chosen newer episodes.
is one my favorites,” I told him,
knowing he’d written that, and because
it is one of my all time favorite. “I
must have seen it at least a hundred times,”
I said. I
could tell he thought I was exaggerating,
but I wasn’t. I really have seen
it at least that many times. We discussed
the theme song. Which one did we like
best? “Both,” I said.
I love Jeff
Beal’s, but the Randy
Newman theme just seems to be a better
fit for the show. I think Spinner agreed.
I’m not too sure. It was all about
David for me at that point. There we were
chatting about Monk with one
of the creative minds behind it. As big
of a thrill as it was to meet the cast
later, talking to a Monk writer
was an equal thrill for me. The script
supervisor, Karen or Cathy (I still can’t
remember and it’s probably neither
one) said, “There was a different
I saw her name in the credits and immediately
recognized it: it was Cathy Mulligan.]
It was news
to her. David explained all about how
the theme had been changed and the controversy
that arose as a result. "Some Monk
fans don't like change," I told her.
Monk," said David.
nothing compared to the Natalie/Sharona
debate," I said. We
discussed it and I made my pro-Natalie
feelings known, as did Spinner, but he
wanted his own comments off the record.
And so they will remain.
I mentioned that
I’d met Andy when he was in San
Francisco and I asked when they planned
to come up and film there again. He wasn’t
sure, but thought they might be making
the trip in October or November. I gave
him my card and told him about the website.
He hadn’t heard of it, but he seemed
very interested and said he’d check
it out as soon as he got home.
Meyer as the Script Supervisor
in "Mr. Monk and the TV star"
I asked David if he was living in L.A.
now. He’s originally a Jersey boy
like many of the writers. He said that he
was in California permanently now and that
he’ll shortly be getting married.
A little research reveals that his bride-to-be
is an actress once featured in a Monk
episode, “Mr. Monk and the TV Star”,
the episode in which David Breckman also
appears, for a few seconds as a TV writer.
Meyer, his fiancée played the
script supervisor in that episode. I don’t
know for sure if that’s how they met,
but on that episode would be my guess.
asked us “How long will you be here
Of course, we
had no idea what our schedule for the
day would be like, but I thought I knew
the answer to that one “Until you
kick us out,” I told him.
Doug Nabors finally
arrived a little after 9:30am: just when
Nancy said he would. He apologized and
explained that they’d mixed up the
dates. Tony was doing an interview with
the biggest German magazine in the world
or the biggest magazine in Germany, or
something like that. After he was done,
he’d be there to rehearse and shoot
a scene and then we’d go to lunch.
Of course, we were both having such a
fantastic time we certainly didn’t
mind waiting a little longer. Doug mentioned
that later we’d be able to see the
standing sets, (Monk’s apartment,
Doctor Kroger’s office, the police
station) but as it turned out, that never
were ready to shoot again and they did a
scene with Harold and his cousin Joey in
a hospital corridor meeting a Kindergarten
teacher and her two students. We had an
excellent vantage point from the video village.
We watched them shoot the same scene I don’t
know how many times, but it was a lot. If
a line was flubbed, they’d shoot again.
If someone missed their mark (was standing
in the wrong place) or anything like that
they'd shoot the sequence again. Or if the
Old Navy commercial that was shooting next
door brought in a big truck making a loud
BEEP BEEP BEEP noise, then they'd have to
shoot the whole scene again. ("Nobody
buy anything from Old Navy..." shouted
an assistant director. He paused to consider
the ramifications of that. "... for
at least a week.")
Jon Collier was just great with the kids.
Gently giving them direction and praising
their performances. The two kids, a boy
(Connor Gibbs) and a girl (Lucy Meyer),
were both sweet, well behaved and professional.
They'll both be making their small screen
debut in "Daredevil."
Harold Krenshaw |
next scene to be filmed was supposed to
be one with “The Gang” as Monk,
Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher are referred
to in the script. Tony, however was still
in his interview or getting ready. They
decided to go ahead with the scene after
that, involving Harold in an elevator in
a bright green costume. I can’t reveal
anymore than that and I can’t get
the image out of my head of Tim Bagley sitting
in his director chair, flipping through
a script and wearing that silly green costume
as casually as if he were dressed in jeans
and a t-shirt.
scene was once again interrupted by those
inconsiderate Old Navy people who were doing
some loud banging, even though, according
to the assistant director in charge of discipline
(okay, maybe that wasn’t his official
title) they’d been told that the Monk
production had priority. Jon Collier fumed
a little while someone ran over to scold
the neighbors. Once that was done, they
wrapped up the scene pretty quickly. David
Breckman said goodbye at that point and
before he left he promised again to look
at the website.
The regular cast
started to trickle in. First I saw Jason
Gray-Stanford (Disher). He looked
terrific dressed in his street clothes:
blue jeans, black t-shirt and sandals.
Levine arrived, also in casual clothes,
a brown pullover and, if I’m not
mistaken, a blue ball cap. They went to
the other side of the set where their
scene was being set up. I didn’t
see Tony and Traylor come in. Maybe because
I was too busy watching Ted and Jason.
Doug came over
to tell us that Tony was there and that
they were going to do a closed rehearsal
and when that was done he’d introduce
us to him. The monitors were switched
off for the rehearsal and we couldn’t
really see it from where we were, but
I did get glimpses through an open “hospital”
Shalhoub and Traylor
Howard were there, already in the costumes
they’d be wearing for the rest of
the day. Traylor wore a short sleeved red
blouse and black pants. Tony already had
on his Monk outfit. When
they were finished with their rehearsal
they brought in the stand-ins so they could
set up the lighting and stuff and they announced
that they were going to move our home away
from home, the Video Village. We scrambled
out of the way and tried not to trip over
anything. Confusion reined (for us anyway)
as they tore down equipment and lights and
monitors and moved it all to the other side
of the set. Eventually Doug came to fetch
us, leading us over to the back side of
the hospital window to watch them rehearse
the scene in Harold’s hospital room.
The one line description on the call sheet
is “The gang looks for Harold.”
When the rehearsal was over the big
moment arrived. Doug brought us over to
Tony Shalhoub. We shook hands (yes, he shakes
hands) and told him our names. I know you
know what his first question was: “Where
are you from?” We told him. He wanted
to know about Monkfest. I said, “I
He laughed. “Neither was I.”
Spinner was, so he asked her about it and
they talked about his brother Michael. Apparently
Michael won the Monkfest yo-yo contest and
has bragged about this to his brother. They
were ready to shoot the scene so Tony hurried
back to the set. Doug set us up at the newly
relocated video village in front of the
monitors. I still had my Anthony Santa Croce
chair and she still had her Randy Zisk.
They went through the scene a few times.
watched the live action off to my left instead
of the monitor most of the time, but I was
caught off guard when Tony came running
off the set and put his hands on my shoulders
as he watched the playback on the monitor.
I think I can still feel it. I also said
"hi" to Traylor between takes.
She looked a little confused, but she said
"hi" back and smiled.
got another shot and Tony came back to talk
to us. They were going to get one more and
then break for lunch in about ten minutes.
He asked if that was okay with us. We just
nodded. They did the scene again. He seemed
pleased with the results and walked over
to us smiling. “Okay is anybody hungry?”
A golf cart in "Mr.
Monk and the TV Star"
Left: That's David Breckman in his big role
I was too excited
to be hungry and I’m fairly certain
Spinner wasn’t very hungry either,
but we said, "Yes," because
we pretty much agree with anything Tony
of the perks of having your own show at
Paramount is a flashy, tricked out ride
to zip around the lot in. Tony’s
is a golf cart. The truth is it’s
not flashy and it may not belong to him.
His name wasn't on it, but he did use
it all day. Doug got behind the wheel
and advised us to hang on. So did the
warning label on the back seat. In fact,
it said if we didn’t hang on we
could be killed! (I’ve since googled
cart fatalities” and discovered
what good advice that was.)
was about 1 o’clock, I think, as we
made the short drive from the stage to the
studio commissary. We drove by the water
tower and "The Blue Sky," a large
wall painted to resemble a typical sky with
hazy clouds. Below it is a sunken parking
lot area which can be flooded and used as
a mock ocean. Tony talked about Paramount
Studios and how much they liked it there.
He mentioned that they’d just moved
over from Ren Mar Studios. I asked him why
they made the move. He said that they’d
gotten a good deal and that the facilities
at Paramount were more extensive and included
exterior shooting locations like a New York
Street which we also drove by.
"The Blue Sky"
and the water tower
New York Street |
|I told him that Spinner and I had
been to Universal on the Sunday and a tour
guide there had mentioned that a few weeks
earlier Monk had been filming on
their New York street (which can also serve
as a San Francisco street or as a Chicago
street or as a whatever-big-city-you-want
street.) Yes, he said, they often filmed
there. Universal’s New York Street
and other locations were even more expansive
than Paramount’s. Tony
pointed out stage 19 as we drove up to the
commissary. “That’s where we
he said. (That’s the difference between
a network show and a cable show, I guess:
you’re much closer to the commissary.)
we got out of the cart, he pointed out the
studio store just a little further down
on Paramount Plaza. It was like having Arnold
Schwarzenegger give us a personal tour
of the Governor’s mansion only, you
know, way waaaaaay cooler. Tony said he
wanted to take us to the store after lunch.
“Do they have Monk merchandise?”
didn’t think so. “But you can
get that online, right?” Tony asked.
got all that,” I told him.
junk,” he said. “That’s
what we call it.”
matter what they call it, I’ll buy
it. I just wish there was more of it.
I guess I was
expecting the commissary to be a glorified
high school cafeteria sort of deal. That
notion was quickly dispelled when we entered
the relatively elegant dining room and
the Maître de scurried over to show
Tony and Spinner and I to a table near
the front. As we settled in Tony saw someone
he recognized at the next table. It was
someone I recognized too: Randy Zisk,
the Monk executive producer whose
chair Spinner had been keeping warm all
morning. Tony leaned over to talk to him
for a few seconds, no doubt explaining
that he had a couple of crazy fans in
tow. Spinner took the opportunity to decide
our seating arrangements: “We’ll
sit on one side of the table, so we can
both see him,” she whispered.
It worked for
me. He sat opposite us, the waiter handed
us our menus and Tony smiled charmingly.
“Order whatever you want,”
he said. “I’m buying.
waiter took our drink orders: a diet coke
for me, an iced tea for Spinner and “half
lemonade and half iced tea” for Tony.
He demonstrated how much of each should
go in the glass as he gave his order to
the waiter. We continued talking or rather
he did. He never seemed to be at a loss
for words and yet he was a very good listener.
It’s a gift… just a gift. He
discussed the difference between working
and working on Monk.
it seems, was relatively easy. Work for
the actors was four or five hours a day
with few locations or action scenes. A one
hour show, on the other hand, has a grueling
schedule with 12 to 15 hour days in all
sorts of conditions. “When do you
spend time with your family?” I asked.
don’t,” he said. "Just
he said, since Monk only has 16
episodes per season and the breaks in between
filming, it was easier than working on a
network show with 22 episodes a year. He
said he didn’t think he would want
to do it. It might be a lot of money, but
you’d basically have to give up everything
else including the time to enjoy it. I
asked Tony, if the sitcoms were so easy
to make and so much cheaper, why did they
make anything else? “Nobody’s
buying them,” he said.
waiter brought our drinks. Spinner’s
curiosity got the better of her and she
asked what Tony had ordered. “Half
tea, half lemonade,” he told her.
“It’s called an Arnold Palmer.”
He offered her a sip and she tried it. He
likes to share. “It sweetens the tea,”
he said, “without adding sugar.”
(I’m not sure how much sense that
makes since there’s sugar in the lemonade.)
The waiter brought over a special hor d’ouevre:
three little deep fried thingies. “Compliments
of the chef,” said the waiter. I forgot
what they were called, but Tony said it
was like an egg roll. I don’t know
what the filling was, but they were tasty.
I’ve dined out quite a bit and at
some pretty fancy places, but nobody’s
ever brought me something “compliments
of the chef” before. I was really
beginning to enjoy the celebrity dining
experience. We ordered our meals. I’d
asked Tony what he recommended on the menu
and he said the mushroom quesadilla was
good. I went with that. He ordered the salmon
salad. So did Spinner.
talked about why shows are successful. Why
Raving Mad for instance had failed
and Monk had succeeded. He said
Stark Raving Mad was the victim
of heightened expectations. Even though
it did quite well compared to most shows
it was sandwiched between Frasier
two very popular shows. Any drop off from
their audience numbers was considered a
failure and so the show was dropped. I don’t
think we actually discussed why Monk
is such a success.
explained a little about how television
filming was done: how sitcoms were shot
with the three camera method and hour long
The cast of Stark Raving
were done with
one camera. They’re always shot
out of sequence. They start with an establishing
shot of a scene and then do different
perspectives and then close ups.
our lunches. Tony and Spinner were both
surprised by the size of their salads.
“We could have shared one,”
Tony told Spinner.
sure she would have liked that. The quesadilla
was delicious, but it was rather difficult
to eat and hang on every word Tony said
and ask the occasional question to keep
him going, all at the same time. We talked
about the proliferation and popularity
of reality programs and how cheap they
were. “You don’t have to pay
writers,” he said.
not a good thing.
asked him who was at the next table, even
though I already knew. “That’s
Randy Zisk.” He explained Randy’s
role with the show as executive producer
and sometimes director. He said that Randy
had directed one of the first season shows
in Toronto and Tony had liked him so much
that when they decided to make the move
to L.A. he’d asked Randy to take on
the executive producer job. He named a few
of the episodes Randy had directed. I said
I’d really enjoyed his direction in
Monk and the Leper.” In fact,
I thought it was brilliant. He should get
an Emmy nod for it. I also added that Randy
had been nominated for an Emmy for “Mr.
Monk Takes His Medicine.” “You
really know this stuff,” Tony said.
L - R: Randy Zisk, David
Bitty Schram, Tony Shalhoub in 2003
asked Tony who Randy was with. He leaned
over the table and lowered his voice. That
was Michael, an experienced and talented
director who they’d been after for
a long time and now he was going to direct
“Mr. Monk and the Birds & the
Bees” the episode which would begin
filming the next day. “What’s
his last name?” I asked.
smiled sheepishly. “I knew you were
going to ask me that. I don’t remember.”
guess we’ll have to wait until the
episode airs to find out. [Ed. It was
Michael Watkins.] We
discussed the upcoming episodes and he shared
a few spoilers. He mentioned that Dr. Kroger’s
son would be in an upcoming episode. “Troy?”
amazing. How do you remember that?”
shrugged. I didn't think that was a tough
one to remember, but let's just say it’s
a gift. I have a great memory for names,
but I frequently can’t remember where
I put my keys. He asked how often I watched
each episode. “Well, some more than
others, but I watch each one at least twice
the night it airs.” (Sometimes three
times if I really like it and then a few
more times during the week.)
credits when I can,” I told him.
"These days they make them so small
you can hardly read them.”
He nodded in
agreement. “They squeeze them down
to promote the next show.”
of my pet peeves so I was happy to talk
about it. “Aren’t the actors,
and everybody else in the credits, upset
a problem,” he agreed, nodding gravely.
“It’s a big problem.”
discussed how Spinner had flown on a plane
for the first time ever, just to come out
and see him. He was astonished by this and
wanted to know all about her first flight.
She told him she didn’t even realize
they’d taken off, but the landing
was kind of rough and she didn’t like
the turbulence. However, she tried to think
of it as just “bumps in the road.”
“Only there’s no road!”
Tony exclaimed with more than a touch of
attendance at Monkfest and Tony mused
about showing up at a future event. I
asked about Doug who started as an assistant
and was promoted to associate producer
and Tony said he’d been promoted
again this season to co-producer. Right
on cue Doug walked in. “Is it time?”
Tony asked him.
not yet. You’ve got a few minutes”
I didn’t know how much longer we’d
get to enjoy Tony’s company so I reached
for my bag. “I have a few gifts from
some other fans,” I told him.
Click to enlarge
I pulled out
the drawings that Mississippi Monk
fan Liv had done and had sent me the week
before. Tony took them and exclaimed "Oh
my god! These are unbelievable."
(He pronounced it "unbeleeeevable.")
He showed them to Doug and pointed to
the one of himself and said "I've
never looked so good. Who did these?"
he asked. I told him “Olivia Monteith,
Liv . She’s from Mississippi.”
Olivia Monteith 2007
If so requested by the current owners
and subjects of the original artwork these
images will be removed.
He called over
to Randy Zisk, "Randy, you've got
to see this. These are amazing."
He told Randy they were from a Monk
fan in Mississippi and again we gave him
Liv’s name. Randy said, "These
are great" and showed them to his
new director without a last name. He introduced
us to Randy who asked, you guessed it,
where we were from. Tony informed Randy
that Spinner had flown for the first time
just for the occasion.
they looked at the sketches I took out the
bracelets which Liv had enclosed for Emmy
and Tony’s daughters and I gave him
the short note she’d written. He read
the cast of Monk,
accept these sketches as a token of my appreciation
for the hard work you put into making such
an entertaining and original show. It’s
far too rare in a time when brainless “reality”
shows seem to be taking over.
have also made and enclosed three bracelets,
one for Emmy and the other two are for Josie
and Sophie, if they want them.
he read the part about “brainless
reality shows” Doug, Tony, Randy and
Michael all nodded their heads in agreement.
When he got to the part about the bracelet
being for Emmy and his daughters, Doug mentioned
that Emmy Clarke would be in later that
day, so we could give one to her. (It turns
out, she wasn’t. Maybe he got the
date mixed up.) "That's so sweet,"
Tony said, examining the bracelets. "She
"That's right," I told him.
also presented him with the montage of South
Park characters, mostly drawn by Liv, which
another fan, Kim (Fan4sure), had put together.
They were all highly amused. Tony was busy
admiring them when the call came to go back
to the set. Randy Zisk handed the pictures
to Doug and Tony gave him the bracelets.
Doug handed them all back to me and asked
if I'd hang on to them until we got to Tony's
trailer (which was the first I'd heard that
a Tony trailer visit was on the agenda.)
that Spinner had barely touched her salad,
Tony had them box it up for her so she could
take it with her. The check arrived. Tony
and Doug huddled briefly. I can’t
be sure, but it seemed to me that he was
asking Doug to figure the tip for him.
eyeing the desserts on the way out, Tony
once again tried to steer us towards the
studio store, but Doug headed him off at
the pass. No time: we had to get going.
piled back into the golf cart. I finally
worked up a little nerve. “Doug?”
it be okay if I took some pictures?”
“Sure,” he said. “Just
don’t take anything embarrassing,
someone picking their nose,” Tony
laughed. “That’s not the kind
of picture I want,” I told him.
we zipped through the Paramount lot Tony
pointed out the beautiful landscaping. In
only a minute or two we arrived at Tony’s
trailer. That’s right, Tony Shalhoub’s
trailer. We went in. It was pretty swanky,
(you know, for a trailer) with an entertainment
center, living/dining area, separate dressing
room/bath area, a kitchen with a lot of
light wood cabinetry and a big side by side
stainless steel refrigerator. The first
thing that drew my eye was the Monk
bobblehead box on his kitchen counter.
“Hey,” I said, “You got
your bobblehead!” He smiled and shook
his head a little. “Right, I got my
bobblehead.” (That’s got to
be a little strange, having a bobblehead
Tony took Spinner’s
leftover lunch and put it in his refrigerator.
(Which I’m sure made it taste a
whole lot better. Right, Spinner?) I took
out Liv’s and Kim’s gifts,
intending to leave them with Tony, but
he stopped me. “Bring those,”
he said. “We’ll give them
I just left
the drawing of him, a South Park picture
and the two bracelets on the table and
put the other stuff back in my bag. Tony
opened up a drawer in the kitchen. ”You
wanted a picture, right?” he asked.
Either he was
psychic or Spinner had mentioned that
she wanted an autograph. If she did, I
don’t remember that. (She tells
me, she did.) He started pulling handfuls
of 8X10s out of the drawer. It was like
the coolest magic trick ever. He quickly
sorted through them and spread some out
over the counter. “I’ve got
six different ones,” he said.
remember what they all were, only that
I’d seen them all before. “And
I’ve got a group shot,” he
a picture which he signed. I wanted to
get one for Liv first and I tried to pick
the most artistic one. I told him it was
for the artist and he asked for her name
again so he could personalize it. While
he did that I took out another one of
the South Park pictures so he could sign
it for Kim, which he did, and I handed
Spinner the Monk ad she’d
brought along for him to sign. He commented
that it was an old one. (First season,
I think.) “And one for me,”
I said, picking out a picture.
Doug had a few
other things ready to sign which apparently
people had sent in. It seems like Tony
just signs whatever he can whenever he
has a spare moment. When all the picture
signing was over, Spinner asked if Tony
wanted to have his picture taken with
her. He did. She gave me her camera. I
took a bad picture of Tony and Spinner.
It’s the only kind I know how to
take. However, thanks to computer technology,
I was able to make it somewhat presentable.
Tony he was late, so we hurried out to
the golf cart. Tony took the wheel. “They
let you drive?” I asked.
he said with a mischievous grin. We headed
to stage 7. I took a picture.
As we were speeding along we passed by
Levine and Tony slowed to a stop to
greet him. They just said hello and Tony
drove on. “That was Jerry Levine,”
Tony explained, “He’s directed
a lot of episodes.”
was Kenny Shale, Sharona's boyfriend,
Monk and the Twelfth Man',”
I added, because I simply can’t
resist. Tony once again seemed impressed
by my ability to remember who played what.
(Too bad I can’t think of any way
this superpower could come in handy, unless
I decide to become a casting director.)
Tony was a little
late and they went right in to shooting
the scene. It was the same scene they’d
been doing before the lunch break, but
now they were taking it from different
angles, doing close-ups, etc.. The video
village had also been moved and our chairs
had been removed. No room for them. We
stood and watched and tried not to trip
over cords. Jerry Levine, inspired by
his meeting with Tony, also dropped by
to watch them shoot. Everyone greeted
him warmly. It's that kind of a set. People
just love to hang around. I managed to
take a few (really bad) pictures at about
2nd 2nd Assistant Director,
Co-Producer Doug Nabors |
Jerry Levine and the AD
in Charge of Discipline
Traylor Howard on the Set |
As soon as they
got to the first break Tony pulled me
aside, "Get the pictures," he
said. Traylor left the stage at this point.
We didn’t see as much of her during
most of the day as we did of the others.
In retrospect, it’s likely that
she was running over to check on her baby
Sabu whenever she had the opportunity.
pulled out the drawings of Ted and Jason.
Tony took them and as Jason came over to
us Tony held up the drawing of Jason for
him to see. Jason was astonished, or at
least he acted astonished. I think he really
was. That drawing is terrific.
handed it to him. "Who did this?"
Jason asked and Tony again turned to us
for Liv’s name.
over to see what the commotion was about
and Tony happily presented him with his.
He's not as effusive as Tony or Jason,
but he seemed pleased and said "Well,
look at that," and chuckled.
heard it a few times by now managed to
remember Liv’s name and told Ted
that Olivia, a Monk fan in Mississippi,
had drawn it. Ted and Jason looked at
each others pictures. Jason pointed at
the corner of his and read aloud, “Not
Keifer Sutherland.” They laughed,
obviously recognizing the reference to
Monk Goes Home Again."
they had their drawings Tony introduced
them to me and Spinner. He also told them
about Spinner’s first plane ride and
that I knew everything about the show. When
asked we told them where we were from. He
then had me give them each a South Park
picture, which Jason just flipped over.
He picked out his little likenesses and
read the quotes aloud. “This is how
I stand,” Jason laughed.
“That was the one with the purple
suit,” said Ted.
They loved pipe-in-the-head guy and Alice
Cooper. Jason pointed at the little Ambrose
figure. "That’s not you is it,
Turturro,” I told him.
looked at it and nodded in agreement. “It’s
people think I’m dangerous,”
read Jason. “Which one was that?”
The excitement must have been too much for
me. I drew a blank. I think it was "Godfather."
We walked over
to their director's chairs where Ted and
a few crew members also participated in
the which-episode-is-that-from game that
Jason had started.
Spinner and Ted Levine's
They happily displayed the drawings of themselves
to whoever came by. I asked them to autograph
one of the South Park pictures for Liv,
which they promptly did, but since it was
Jason's they had autographed he immediately
asked for another for himself. I had Jason
sign another one for the loyal poster here
who goes by the name of Crystal Smith. He
remembered the character and the
episode. He laughed and signed. As long
as everybody was signing stuff I pulled
out my friend Tony’s copy of Silence
of the Lambs and asked Ted to autograph
it for him. He did. (It was about this time
that I noticed my camera wasn't working.)
There was some
discussion of an upcoming episode. Apparently,
it may have a funhouse/house of mirrors
scene and Jason said they’d already
done a funhouse scene. Ted said that he
didn’t think they had. Brigit agreed
with Jason. Ted asked me: after all, Tony
had told him I was an expert. I shook
my head no. “In the Circus one,”
No, no funhouse
Spinner, Brigit and Jason's
Nope, not there
Of course, for
all I know they may have shot such a scene
for one of these episodes or another episode
and then not used it (or he may have been
thinking of the female reproductive system
featured in "Mr.
Monk and the Red Herring.") I
just know it didn’t air and it was
fun to agree with Ted.
I found Ted
Levine to be quite charming. Not as
garrulous as Tony or as energetic as
Jason, but composed and self assured
with a great sense of humor and a bit
of a goofy side. If I were going to
spend a lot of time with somebody else
on the show I'd want it to be him.
talked about a house that he’d wanted
to buy, but an inspection had turned up
something wrong with it and the sale had
fallen through. “We’re still
looking,” he said. Sorry, I’ve
got no idea who the other part of the
Jerry Levine on the Set
Jerry Levine as Kenny
were joined by Jerry Levine. After the introductions
(“So where are you guys from?”)
Jerry discussed his guest starring role
on Twelfth Man. He thought he’d done
a good job and he pretended to be hurt that
they hadn’t asked him to reprise the
role. He wanted to know what our favorite
episode was. “That one” I told
laughed. “You’re quick,”
he said and he raised that eyebrow at me.
Strike,” Brigit put in knowing Jerry
had directed it. Jerry brushed that off.
“I wasn’t in that, I just directed
it.” He left laughing.
asked us to sit and he let Spinner take
his director's chair. Traylor came back
just before shooting resumed. Tony presented
her with her drawing. She only had a moment
to look it over before they got back to
work. She gazed at it thoughtfully and just
said, "Wow." It was a good "wow",
Sort of a modest, she-was-amazed-anyone-would-take-the-time-to-draw-her
shot the scene again and again and again.
At one point Tony had a concern regarding
the closet in Harold’s hospital room:
it was completely empty. Would a hospital
closet really be completely empty just because
someone, in this case Harold Krenshaw, had
removed his belongings? Wouldn’t there
be blankets or supplies or something? Tony
notices these things. He cares about these
things. The script supervisor, Cathy or
Karen or whatever her name was, pointed
out that when they shot earlier scenes with
Harold removing his belongings there was
nothing in the closet then, so there couldn't
be something in the closet now. She told
Jon Collier this and Jon went over and told
they’d have to re-shoot scenes from
another day with Tim Bagley, who’d
already left, Tony gave up on inserting
that bit of realism.
more they did the scene again and again
and finally Joe Pennella, director of photography,
asked Tony “Are you happy?”
shrugged, “I make a good living.”
And yes, the scene was good for him. The
scene was finally finished.
dutifully followed Tony back out to the
golf cart. He explained that they’d
be shooting close-ups for a scene that had
already been shot on location at a rooftop
somewhere in downtown Los Angeles. But it
would take a while to set up and so we’d
go back to his trailer for a while. Fine
by us. Once again Tony got behind the wheel
and Doug in the passenger seat. Spinner
and I rode behind.
done for the day, was headed, presumably,
back to his trailer. Tony slowed down and
teasingly asked Jason "Need a lift?"
knowing there was no room left in the cart.
course, we would have been happy to let
Jason squeeze in.) “No, I’m
fine,” Jason said smiling.
zipped on ahead and was quickly caught in
a little studio sized traffic jam as a large
truck was ineptly maneuvering through a
narrow street and another golf cart was
also ahead of us blocking the way, totally
frustrating Tony’s zipping. Doug suggested
we park it and walk, but Tony was having
none of that. He had his little cart and
he knew where he wanted to go. Jason walked
past laughing at Tony. “It’s
the tortoise and the hare” he said.
Finally Tony was able to zip on and parked
the cart next to the trailer.
I think it was
about 3:30pm when we once again found
ourselves in Tony’s trailer. I’d
made a quick call before we left the soundstage,
telling Seth to leave town without me.
He had to be at work the next morning
and we had planned to leave at 5:00pm.
I had no intention of cutting the day
short. I decided to fly home the next
In the trailer
Tony hung his Monk jacket on the back
of a chair and undid the top button of
his shirt. He seemed momentarily at a
loss as to how to best entertain us. He
suggested we watch a new episode. We agreed.
Now which episode?
At first he suggested “Mr. Monk
and the Naked Man”, but Doug had
a counter proposal: “Mr. Monk and
the Buried Treasure”. He had just
gotten a DVD with a blocked picture, which
he and Tony explained meant that the picture
was all good to go but the sound still
needed some tweaking.
orders from Tony himself not to reveal
too much about the episode, so I’m
not going to describe the plot except
to say that Dr. Kroger’s son Troy
who was featured briefly in “Mr.
Monk Gets a New Shrink” gets
a much larger part in this one. He’s
still played by the same guy, Cody
McMains, but he’s a little toned
down from the earlier appearance.
Set Visit Tony Shalhoub
excellent episode with great performances
all around, but what was most interesting
during the viewing were Tony’s reactions
and Tony watching our reactions.
he was watching the episode he was looking
for mistakes and not infrequently finding
them. He was also explaining the technical
aspects to us, such as where they would
need to add inserted shots and what locations
they had filmed scenes and other details.
He didn’t seem to find his own performance
as amusing as Spinner and I did, but he
obviously thought Ted and Jason were the
funniest thing ever, in fact he said so,
and laughed at all their scenes. I suppose
it’s a lot easier for him to take
a step back and just enjoy the comedy when
he’s not thinking about his own performance.
Traylor is also very funny in this. The
episode is nicely balanced with everyone
getting a lot to do. Lt. Disher in particular
gets a little more attention than usual
and he’s hilarious. The comedy is
also nicely balanced out with some very
good drama, suspense and mystery.
we were done, Doug got everyone a round
of drinks: Fresca for Tony, Diet Coke for
me and something clear for Spinner, I think
it was a seven-up. Tony made a few phone
calls, rearranging for a TV Guide interview
which had been postponed to the next day
(not for our benefit I hope.) He also called
someone about the 1408 premiere to find
out when it would be and if his schedule
could be cleared for it. (Apparently it
all worked out, because he did attend the
premiere on the 12th.) We briefly discussed
the film. He said he only has a very small
He joined Doug at the computer on the
kitchen counter for a short casting session,
looking at pictures of actors for roles
still to be cast for the next episode up,
Mr. Monk and the Birds & the Bees. One
was a teenage girl about Julie’s age.
Tony thought she was too blonde. “But
Emmy is blonde” said Doug.
they were trying to cast the role with someone
who looked like Julie. “Not that blonde,”
never thought Emmy was particularly blonde
either. “She’ll have to change
her hair” he said.
(Monk's landlord in "Panic Room")
a few other roles. One was a funeral director.
One was a landlord, I think. I hope they
didn’t mean Monk’s landlord.
The role was originally played in "Panic
Room" by Willie Garson. I like him
a lot. I wouldn’t want anyone else
to get the role.
We were joined
Collins who needed to go over a few
things with Tony including the episode
we had just watched. After the standard
introductions, they popped the DVD back
in and started going over changes and
mistakes, mostly to do with the sound,
which Tony had noticed during the first
nitpicky as fans can be, Tony is twice as
persnicity. He noticed everything. Gift/curse,
because apparently some things cannot be
changed and others can. He was annoyed that
the background sounds and music drowned
out the dialogue at times. He noticed that
the sound Randy makes when sucking threw
a straw is not the right sound. “The
cup is full. There shouldn’t be a
bottom of the cup slurping sound,”
he noted. He also noticed that a car door
hit a wall once, but we heard the sound
twice. I think his super powers are way
better than my super powers. He’s
Notices Everything Man.
Notices Everything Man
Tony Shalhoub and Snoop
they finished dissecting the episode, Scott
told Tony that the network wanted to air
“Mr. Monk and the Rapper” in
the second slot, the week following the
season premiere of “Mr. Monk and His
Biggest Fan.” Tony wasn’t down
with that. He expressed his preference for
showing “Buried Treasure” in
that slot. He thought it was a very strong
episode, but apparently the network wants
the one two punch of the two big guest stars:
Sarah Silverman and Snoop Dog. It remains
to be seen who will win out there. (Ed.
Not surprisingly it was the Network.)
Scott was hesitant at first to reveal, in
front of us, who the guest star was for
“Rapper”, but I told him the
news had already leaked out about
Snoop Dog’s appearance. “Well,
some leaks are good,” said Scott.
I asked Tony
how much input the network actually gets
in the production of the show. “They
do get some,” he said. There’s
a lot of give and take.
I asked Scott what his job was. “Post production,”
he said. I asked if he worked with Craig
Pettigrew (Monk music editor.)
“Yeah, I work with him all the time.
Do you know Craig?” he asked.
met in person,” I said, “but
he answered a bunch of questions for me.
He’s a nice guy.”
and Tony gave me a strange look. In a
few weeks I’ll let you know if it’s
the same one Monk gives Marci Maven in
the new episode.
what was taking so long setting up the
next scene or scenes. Doug picked up his
phone to check. Scott was about to leave,
“It was great to meet you guys,”
he said. “Drop by any time.”
I laughed. “You
probably don’t want to tell us that,”
(I was picturing
me and 50 of my closest Monk
message board friends showing up at the
Paramount gates in a big bus full of penguins
and sock monkeys, driven by a horse, all
shouting, except the horse of course,
“Scott Collins said to drop by anytime.”)
was about 5:30pm and Doug said they still
weren’t ready for him. It would be
a little longer. Tony got a bright idea.
“Let’s go over to the studio
store,” he said. “Are they still
open?” Doug asked. “Let’s
go find out,” said Tony. “Let
me make a phone call and find out,”
Doug said sensibly. It took him a little
while. The operator apparently had some
trouble connecting him, but he finally learned
that the store had closed at 5:00pm. Tony
was bummed, but just then the call came
in saying they were finally ready for him
on the set.
drove us over himself and recommended we
go over to craft services and pick up something
sweet while they rehearsed. They were about
to shoot close ups on a fake made of rubber,
looks like metal, helicopter pad that had
been set up outside between the stages.
Poking around in the craft services truck
was an attractive notion, but not as fun
as watching them rehearse. Tony explained
more about the way they were going to be
shooting the scene and how they’d
adjust the lighting so that it would match
the time of day of the original location
establishing shot that had been done earlier.
It was a dazzling Action-Natalie™
sequence. They finished rehearsing and the
was getting cold as they started to lose
the light and Tony noticed that Spinner
looked a little cold. He had Brigit bring
Spinner a parka just like the one Traylor
had been wearing that day, but dark green
instead of silver. They were ready to shoot
so they asked everybody to move back, “except
our honored guests” said the AD on
the scene, who led us over to the other
side of the faux heli-pad to give us a better
view of the scene… or get us out of
the way... one of those. I was simultaneously
embarrassed and impressed, which happened
a lot that day. They’d shot one sequence
a few times and then break and reset.
and his nannies (that’s right, nannies
plural) drove up in their own little golf
cart. During the break Traylor hurried over
to cuddle with her little bundle of joy
and we followed her since we were both eager
to meet the new addition to the Monk
family. I don’t know much about these
things, but he looked pretty big for his
age and he was dressed in blue with a cap
and little blue booties: dark hair, big
dark eyes. He seemed to be a very happy
baby. He laughed at Spinner. He grabbed
my finger. Tony walked over to play with
him. "Oh no, he's the one that makes
you cry," Traylor warned her son jokingly,
but Sabu just laughed at Tony, too.
led us over to the craft services truck
and gave us a grand tour of the approximately
eight foot by four foot space. He ran down
the available menu and Spinner chose Fig
Newtons. Tony took a Nature Valley Granola
peanut bar. “These are good,”
he said. So I took one too. He’s an
expert on everything else: I figure he knows
craft services cuisine as well as anyone
on the planet. Spinner asked him about the
Turkish coffee that he had mentioned in
an interview for the TV Guide channel last
year. He said they only get that coffee
while they are on location.
joined us in the truck. I wasn’t sure
exactly who Denise was, but I suspect she
Hooper the makeup department head. It
started to resemble a Marx Brothers’
scene as we all squeezed in the little truck.
It was time to go back to the set. Traylor
went into the craft services truck just
before the next shot and came out with a
spoonful of peanut butter. I thought it
might be for Sabu, (I don’t know,
do you feed babies peanut butter?) but she
ate it herself. When she was done, they
shot the scene from a different angle a
few more times. |
By the time they
finished the scene it was about 7:30pm
and Tony was ready to call it a day. “That’s
it for me,” he said.
He asked Doug
if he could make sure we got off the lot
all right. Doug said, “Of course.”
Tony asked if
we had parked on the lot. We explained
that a friend had dropped us off that
morning and that we’d just be walking
back to our hotel. This seemed to worry
them both a great deal. That part of Hollywood
is sort of a high crime area at night,
but having lived in some of the roughest
parts of Brooklyn and Queens, not to mention
the tenderloin in San Francisco, I wasn’t
too concerned about a short walk down
Melrose. However, it was really sweet
that they were.
just give them a ride,” Tony said.
I was thinking of asking Doug to show us
those standing sets before we left, but
we jumped all over Tony’s offer. What
better way to end the day? “Sure,”
said Spinner, obviously unable to believe
her luck. I know I was unable to believe
again we got in Tony’s golf cart.
We were joined by Denise who wanted to hitch
a ride back to her own trailer. Doug upon
seeing his spot had been usurped ordered,
The tactic was
unsuccessful, so he sat in her lap, which
I’m sure made the ride that much
more exciting for them both.
Once again back
at Tony's trailer, I asked Tony and Doug
to give Emmy her picture since she hadn't
come in after all that day. Doug said
he would give it to her and picked up
the bracelets. Tony took two from him.
"Those are for the girls," he
said and Doug kept the red one for Emmy.
her lunch from the refrigerator and we
were ready to go. As we were getting in
his car, Tony asked, "Was it worth
it? The auction, I mean?" as if he
were worried we hadn't had a good time.
was for charity," I told him. "But
it would have been worth it anyway."
His car was a
small, blue hybrid. One noticeably cool
feature was a little view screen which
gave him a complete view behind the car.
I told him where our hotel was, on Vine
just a half-block off Melrose. “Behind
the grocery store,” I said.
where that is.” He drove us off
the lot through the Bronson Gate and the
few blocks to our hotel where we thanked
him and said good night.
it for the set visit. I’d already
checked out of my room and the motel was
fully booked, so Spinner let me bunk with
her and Ralph for the night. We babbled
on about our visit for the rest of night
and I jotted down notes.
We had a few
hours the next day before we had to get
to the airport, so we hit Hollywood boulevard
in search of Monk junk. We didn’t
find much, but I picked up a copy of a
“Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather”
script. That’s the one where Randy
says, “Some people think I’m
dangerous.” You can bet I’ll
never forget that line now.