(Click on photos to
July 14th, 2006 MFP photographer
Seth and I once again hit the road
for a little Monk adventure
down in Los Angeles. Neither of
us could get much time off work
so we had to make it fast. We rented
a convertible and left San Francisco
at 9:00am Friday morning, zipping
down the 101. (Yes, I-5 is much
faster, but 101 is prettier and
worth the extra hour or two.)
Me, outside the
Holiday Inn |
we arrived at the Holiday Inn
in Woodland Hills shortly before
5:00pm, it was so hot even Monk
would have unbuttoned his collar
or maybe taken off his shirt.
The hotel was equal distance between
the two book signings, scheduled
for the next day with Lee
Seth, outside the
stills from the episode "Mr. Monk Meets
Monk Goes to Hawaii), Terry
Erdmann & Paula Block (Monk:
The Official Episode Guide).
The signings were our main reason
for the trip. We threw all our stuff
into the room, left the air conditioner
on full blast and headed for our
first stop in the heart of Hollywood.
In "Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather"
Fat Tony escorts Monk and Sharona
to Sal "The Godfather"
Lucarelli's restaurant. Those sequences
were filmed at a charming Italian
place called Miceli's
on Las Palmas Avenue in Hollywood.
(Thanks to Tami and LisaAnne for
pointing us to it.)
featuring Miceli's Restaurant.
Above, Sarkis the singing
would have been happy just to get
so many great pictures of a Monk
location, but we also enjoyed the
finest L.A. dining experience we've
ever had. Our waiter's name was
Sarkis and not only did he provide
excellent service and a perfect
wine recommendation, he also sang.
That's Amore, Que Sera
Sera, Smile and a
few others: all favorites of mine
and he was really very good. The
food? Delicious, starting with the
best caprese I've ever tasted and
ending with a dessert "to live
for" as Sarkis described it,
which involved a fresh chocolate
chip cookie and handmade ice cream.
I think I'll go back every time
I'm in Hollywood.
took so many pictures the staff
started to get a little nervous.
"Are you planning on opening
your own restauraunt called Miceli's?"
One of them asked. So we had to
explain that we were there because
Monk had filmed there.
We didn't mind: if it weren't for
Monk (and Tami and LisaAnne)
we would never have found Miceli's.
took our time soaking in the restaurant's
atmosphere and waiting for the sun
to disappear completely. It was
considerably cooler by the time
we left and we drove through Hollywood
and back to our hotel with the top
down on the convertible and AC/DC
blasting in the CD player. We were
having a marvelous time and we thought
we'd be back long before Monk
("Garbage Strike") was
on. We miscaluculated. The hotel
had a satellite system. Monk
started some time between out salad
and our entreé and was over
long before we got back. We consoled
ourselves with "Mr. Monk Gets
Fired" on the Monk: Season
had decided to spend a few hours
before and after the signings at
Universal studios, because Seth
had never been there before. So
we slathered on the sunscreen and
left the hotel at 8:00am. (Did I
mention it was hot?) We took the
studio tour first and got a few
photos of the back lot locations
where they filmed "Mr. Monk
Goes to Mexico."
sure there are a bunch of other
Monk episode locations on the lot,
but they were either unrecognizable
or too far away to see from the
tram or they went by too quickly.
After Back to the Future, Shrek
4D and a few gift shops it was time
to head for the first book signing
at Mysteries to Die For
in Thousand Oaks.
left all my carefully printed out
mapquest maps with detailed directions
to all our Southern California destinations
in a nice neat little pile... on
my desk... in San Francisco. So
we were winging it and just going
by the memory of the first time
we attended a signing
there back in January. Needless
to say we missed our exit and arrived
at the signing a little late. Lee,
Terry and Paula had already begun
their talk. It was a standing room
only crowd and by the time we got
there they had completely sold out
of Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii.
Here's a bunch of pictures and some
of what the authors had to say.
(Mostly the funny stuff and none
of the stuff about which I've been
sworn to secrecy.)
The crowd at Mysteries
to Die For |
Lee Goldberg has
a sincere moment |
The panel: Terry,
Paula and Lee
real reason I wrote Mr. Monk
Goes to Hawaii is I wanted
to go to Hawaii and write the whole
vacation off." — Lee
of you who've read Mr. Monk
Goes to the Firehouse will
see a firehouse. There's a murder
in the firehouse. Monk solves the
murder. There's a lot off character
names, clues and elements from Mr.
Monk Goes to the Firehouse in the
episode, but everything's different.
Who gets murdered is different.
Monk is blind. Did I mention that?
He's not staying with Natalie. But
it was still a great experience
to adapt the book for television
even though, in typical Hollywood
fashion, it became completely different."
usually the interview guy, because
I'm kind of a shy and retiring,
an editor type. And I sit at the
computer and do all this stuff and
Terry goes out in public and gets
all these great interviews."
wanted to work on the Monk Companion
for two reasons. One, I really love
the show and the second was I really
wanted to go to Summit, New Jersey.
There are virgins waiting for you
in your hotel room...." —
Breckman was the inspiration for
the Monk Companion. He wanted to
see a book about himself. This was
even before he had a show."
I just walk in and out of the [Monk]
set. They think I'm part of the
crew and it's really, really nice."
always have security drag me away.
I'm not sure why that is."
told them to." —
was in Beverly Hills and I saw a
woman with a brooch that was a live
cockroach. And I thought, this is
going in the next book." —
and Natalie] both lost their spouses.
So they're both lost. In some ways
that's why I find her a richer character
than Sharona, is they have a pain
that binds them together rather
than just an employment agreement."
tried to make everything as light
and fun as possible because it's
a light, fun show." —
that's what Andy wanted." —
understand a second edition will
come out if today's sales are high
enough, right?" — Seth
"Yes, buy five copies."
five boxes. — Terry
promises that they will solve Trudy's
murder. That is going to happen."
Monk trying to
wipe it off
is also very big on the fun train
experience. He likes to throw in
these little riffs where they just
go on and on and on. You keep thinking
it's going to end, like the "Pete
and Repeat" thing when he goes
on the airplane. And you keep thinking,
okay end it now, but it keeps going
on. And when he first did this the
network said, 'You know you could
make that shorter.' And he said
'Don't stop the fun train in the
middle of the ride.'" —
Paula and Terry
a few Monk fans.
Left to Right: Terry,
Lee Goldberg with his bottle.
Me and Tami, the
first and luckiest
"Monk Fan of the Week"
really is the heart and soul of
Monk. When I sit there at my computer
and I'm writing either a Monk script
or a Monk book, I'm less thinking
about Monk than I am, what would
Andy say?" — Lee
Andy is madly in love with Columbo.
He would really like to see Peter
Falk [play Monk's father.]"
Peter is a really independent type
of guy. Even the people who work
with Peter Falk all the time never
going to say when they ask him about
the next project. So it's hard to
tell if it's possible, but they
have a huge list of people who could
be Monk's father." —
all the signing and chatting at
Mysteries to Die For it was time
for the Monk Book Party to move
Mystery Bookstore in Westwood
near the UCLA campus. Seth and I
only had a vague idea of where we
were going, so we just followed
Lee, who had Terry and Paula with
him. Judging from the speed and
manuevering, we figured he didn't
realize we were on his tail and
he later confirmed that was the
case. We located the bookstore and
then a parking space.
we had a few minutes to spare
before the 4:00pm signing and
we hadn't eaten since our 8:00am
breakfast, we foraged for food.
place across the street looked
acceptable. Lee, Terry and Paula
had gotten the same idea and had
already placed their order by
the time we arrived. We joined
them and discussed Monk and other
TV stuff over L.A.'s healthiest
pizza (or so the counter guy claimed.)
Then the authors had to dash over
to the bookstore to greet their
Terry and Paula gave their their
talk, which was quite similar to
the Mysteries to Die For talk, but
they did get a few new and interesting
questions from a by and large younger
crowd. And Lee did regale the audience
with his naked
bookstore owner story for the
first time that day.
was a natural place to take Monk:
it's like an alien world compared
to San Francisco." —
much do I put out a day? That makes
me sound like a prostitute."
have a special connection to Monk.
It would be harder for me to suddenly
write Cold Case novels
or Boston Legal novels
because I don't have the personal
involvement." — Lee
always assumed that tomorrow people
are going to realize 'Lee Goldberg's
a complete fraud. What are we paying
him for? He's a hack.' And it's
all gonna end." — Lee
it through Natalie's point of view
has allowed me to give the books
their own voice, their own character,
to smooth over any continuity problems."
they said, 'Do you wanna do Monk?'
We said, 'Yeah, how much will we
have to pay you?'" —
dog likes to sleep underneath whatever
desk that we are working at. We
have two desks in there with computers
on them. It doesn't matter which
one we go to; he will go underneath
that desk and he wraps himself around
the legs of the chair so you can't
roll it or move it or change positions.
He's large. He's a collie and he
just envelopes the chair. —
my wife and daughter do exactly
the same thing." — Lee
is hard work, but, folks, it ain't
mining coal or washing cars."
it's mining coal. I often feel like
I'm down there in the tunnel with
a chisel." — Lee
the Q & A I picked up a couple
copies of "Mr. Monk Goes to
Hawaii" and waited in the autograph
line while Seth took pictures. Waiting
in line we met local Monk
fan Virginia. she had a rare uncorrected
proof of Monk: The Official
Episode Guide (pictured below)
for Paula and Terry to sign. When
she handed it to them it led to
a discussion of just how many of
the uncorrected errors in the uncorrrected
proof remained in the final version,
despite the fact that Terry and
Paula had corrected them. The same
thing had happened to Lee Goldberg
with Firehouse. In particular, Lee
had been told that the LAX error
(Natalie and Monk fly out of LAX,
not SFO) in the proof had been corrected,
but to his chagrin it popped up
again in the final version.
The final version
and the uncorrected proof
Virginia who brought
the uncorrected proof
Monk fans Tami and
signing and chatting were still
going on, but we left a little early
because we wanted to get out money's
worth out of Universal Studios.
Seth got a few more pictures.
Brothers Show at Universal
had a marvelous time in the Southland,
but we couldn't wait to get back
to cool San Francisco, which was
actually a little warm for this
time of year, but nowhere near as
hot as Los Angeles. L.A. was so
hot.... You're supposed to say how
hot was it?" It was so hot
I saw a dog chasing a cat and they
were both walking. (Heh! Old joke.
I've been waiting a long time to
use that and about now you're probably
asking yourself, why?)
the third weekend in January
(Jan 21-22, 2006) I made a quick
trip down to the Los Angeles
area for a little fun... Monk
style. I was accompanied by
my friend, chauffeur and photographer
Seth Williams, who took almost
all of the photos.
left San Francisco on Saturday
in the wee hours of the morning
and drove down the coast.
| Our first
stop was a book signing that afternoon
by Lee Goldberg, author of the new
Monk novel Mr. Monk Goes to the
Firehouse. The signing was held
at the Mysteries
to Die For bookstore in Thousand
Lee poses before the
At 2:00pm they
opened with a panel of writers which
included Lee Goldberg and a bunch of
other guys whose names I didn't recognize.
They talked for about an hour, mostly
about book reviews. Not surprisingly
they like the good ones and they don't
like the bad ones. Lee took a populist
position: newspaper reviews don't count
that much anymore when the typical reader
can get a better idea of what interests
them from the blog/internet buzz. This
was not a popular opinion with the other
writers. So they left. Kidding, but
at 3 o'clock it was time for Lee to
talk and sign Monk books, so they did
Some of those
writer's fans and family also left,
which meant there was just enough room
for Monk fan Tami to finally slip in
and join the rest of the Monk/Lee Goldberg
fans. She'd been cooling her heels in
front of the bookstore for at least
a half hour. Once she made it in we
both got a couple copies of Mr.
Monk Goes to the Firehouse and
waited for Lee to begin.
Here are a
few quotes from Lee's talk— (I'm
not going to use them all since he answered
many of the same questions in the interview
we did in November.)
"I'm in the middle of writing my
third Monk book Mr. Monk and the
Blue Flu and I'm leaving tomorrow
to go to Summit [NJ where the Monk writing
staff is headquartered] and write a
Monk episode. So I'll be writing a Monk
episode by day and a Monk book by night.
Two different murders: I am so confused
already and I haven't even started."
Lee Goldberg on the panel
Lee gets a little chilly
The other writers
Another writer and his
Standing room only (I'm
in the blue)
Lee signs an autograph
I'm going to write, at least at this point,
is an adaptation of this book. Except
the adaptation already is going to be
radically different. They even have a
different title. 'Mr. Monk Goes to the
Moon' or something. [He's being facetious.
That's not the name of the episode.] But
it may still qualify as the first time,
that I know of, where a TV tie in has
ever been adapted as a televsion episode."
acknowledges that the books stand on their
own. He's given me permission to go off
in my own direction on not be beholden
to the series."
"Already I've made some mistakes
that Monk fans have pointed out to me.
In this book one of the big things is
Monk is allergic to cats. Well, as Andy
forgot and me as well, Monk's been around
cats before on the TV show and he hasn't
had a problem. And even after I wrote
the book and Andy read the book there
was an episode that aired last night [Mr.
Monk Bumps His Head] where Monk's around
a cat and it doesn't bother him. So
there are things that are not going to
fit, but the reader's going to have to
accept that the Monk books are on a parallel
track, rather than on the same track.
Plus with episodes coming out every week,
it's impossible for me, since the books
have such a long lag time, when I write
the book it comes out eight months later,
there are going to be situations where
the TV series will do things I've already
done, or I'll do stuff they've done on
the TV show. It's inevitable"
hope the people reading the books feel
as if they've watched a really good episode
of Monk, that it feels like the show.
And yet it gave them something more than
they get from watching an old episode
part is doing the comedy in the books.
So much of the comedy is sight gags which
are difficult to do in a book, so I have
to make it more character based and realtionship
based humor. It's a different kind of
humor. And Monk in the TV show speaks
in a more clipped way then Monk in the
books. I have him talk a bit more than
in the TV show."
Sharona. I wrote two episodes with Sharona,
but I think Natalie brings a tenderness
and affection to the show. The show could
be a little more acerbic when Sharona
was there. Sharona was a harder edged,
more street wise, certainly naive when
it came to men, but much tougher, much
more irritable, much more jagged. I'm
glad as a novelist not to have to be in
her head. Natalie is much closer to who
I am and the way I see the world than
who've read the Diagnosis Murder novels
will notice that in the second Diagnosis
Murder book, The Death Merchant, Dr. Sloan
goes to Kauai solves a murder and deals
with a police officer in Hawaii. In Mr.
Monk Goes to Hawaii Mr. Monk goes to Kauai
and deals with the exact same man, but
the only one who will ever notice is someone
who's read The Death Merchant that it's
the same guy." [And all the Monk
fans who read this.]
After the rush
Lee answers questions
Lee talks a little more
Lee signs autographs
Lee talks to me and Tami
Mysteries to Die For Window
A fan points
out a continuity error in Diagnosis Murder
[Steve has two childhood homes.] Lee explains
about continuity: "Here's
the problem. Not only does he have two
childhood homes. He has two different
histories. You call it being hacks and
being lazy; we call it conceptual
drift. It's a couple things. First
of all, if you watch Odd Couple there
are five different episodes that explain
how Felix and Oscar first met."
also several different Dick Van Dyke episodes
that explain how he and Laura got together
and first proposed and all that. There's
a huge turnover in television and show
runners change on TV shows. Whole new
staffs come in. They haven't seen the
200 episodes that came before. They're
starting fresh, they don't have time to
go back and watch the previous 200.
to hit the ground running. Plus when a
show runs ten years 20 years the old back
story becomes dated. You can't have the
guy have been a Vietnam War vet, it just
doesn't make sense anymore."
he finished with his Q&A, Lee signed
autographs and talked to fans for over
an hour. It was after 5:00pm when we left
and Lee had just sat down to sign stacks
of books to be mailed out. After a delightful
dinner at Claim Jumpers [try the Chicken
Pot Pie, highly recommended by Lee Goldberg]
in Thousand Oaks with Tami & family,
Seth and I headed to The
Commons at Calabasas. This is where
they shot the first two scenes of the
fourth season opener "Mr. Monk and
the Other Detective." Of course,
by the time we got there it was too dark
to take pictures. But Seth did get one
we headed back to our hotel room,
which was conveniently just across
the street, for some much needed
sleep. We returned to The Commons
the next morning at the crack of
dawn. My memory is not so great
first thing in the morning, so none
of the shots we got were from the
correct angle. But we were in the
general vicinity. That sort of counts,
Click to enlarge
The Commons at Calabasas
4799 Commons Way
Calabasas, CA 91302