CAN YOU IMAGINE FALLING ASLEEP ON THE MONKEES SET? TRACY THOMAS DID! FLIP’S GROOVY GIRL IN HOLLYWOOD TELLS YOU ALL ABOUT IT—AND ALL THE OTHER BACKSTAGE MONKEES HAPPENINGS!
As you will remember, last month, I left you with the cliffhanging sentence: “Will Micky, Davy, Peter and Mike make it to the Monkee set Monday morning after a weekend full of concerts and no sleep?”
Filled with curiosity, bags under the eyes, and toothpicks holding up the eyelids, I went to the studio at Screen Gems where the Monkees film their shows and waited (breathlessly) for the arrival of the quartet. And I waited. And I waited and I fell asleep in Davy’s chair.
I was awakened at noon by a guard who slowly explained to me that because of the boys’ hard weekend, taping for today had been cancelled. Ah well, I thought (more or less), sturgling [sic] to my feet, at least I got a few hours’ sleep.
The next morning, bright and early (uh, early anyway) I was there again and so were the fabulous four. The segment they were taping starred Mike, so he was the only one awake. The other three were snuggled on cots in their dressing rooms.
As a comedian, Mike is my favorite Monkee. He rarely smiles, so you hardly notice that he’s saying something terribly funny unless you listen closely. (he also has a soft voice, which can throw you off). On this particular day, he continuously cracked up the crew with the hilarious things he said during takes.
“They just come out of my head when the time comes,” he says. “I never plan anything, but if the crew likes it, I’ll sure keep it in. Sometimes Jim our director won’t let me, but it’s only cause we haven’t enough time. Mostly I get to keep ’em in.”
In his first scene, Mike had to prevent a girl from ending her life by jumping out the window. All he had to say was “Don’t do it!” or something similar. But no, he couldn’t let it go at that.
Somehow or other, the lines ended up something like this:
MIKE: Oh no, don’t do that! Don’t open that window!
GIRL: Why not?
MIKE: Why, a condor might fly in!
GIRL: A condor!?
MIKE: Yeah, you know, condors. They have a tremendous wing spread and they’re the California state bird.
She didn’t open the window. Instead she reached for an enormous knife, but Mike got there before she did, saying:
MIKE: Don’t take that knife!
GIRL: Why not?
MIKE: We need it to kill the condors.
GIRL: The what!?
MIKE: You know, the condors. They’re this big bird and they’re going to fly in the window and…
You get the idea. Later I found Micky reading “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien and soon we were deep into a discussion of hobbits, the fictional characters that Tolkien writes about.
“Most people are hobbits,” says Micky. “They don’t really like adventures because they’re kinda scary and don’t necessarily turn out all right every time. But every once in a while, there’s one that doesn’t mind a bit of adventure now and then. I like to think that I’m one of those.”
You hardly ever see Peter on the set unless he’s in the particular scene they’re filming. “I get this horrible cooped-up feeling, cause there’s so little room and so many people. I’d rather stay in my dressing room and write things or go outside and talk to people.”
And does he like to talk! Micky and Davy may talk faster but neither of them talk more than Peter. But he doesn’t just make noises, he discusses and asks questions and pretty soon you’re talking as much as he is and suddenly he knows your life story, cause you’ve just told it to him in 5000 words or more. But you needn’t feel guilty—he asked you for it!
Davy always (it seems) has one or two English guests on the set. “I don’t get so homesick when I talk to someone in the same language and about things back home.”
Meanwhile back on the set… I must explain another cliffhanging sentence from last month (or must I?). Something about Micky squirting Mike in the face? Well, after about six phony takes, Micky took the giant fire extinguisher in hand, Mike closed his eyes, preparing for doom (well, his hair would be wrecked), Micky aimed, Mick grimaced and wham, a stand-in got it right in the face! “Hmm,” said Mike, and he was right.
But the funniest thing to happen on the set all week was when Micky and Mike were to rush in from either side of the stage, run into each other and grab for a phone together. When I came in (late) from lunch, they had already begun the takes and they went on for another half hour after I came. But each time, the two, would look at each other and collapse in a fit of laughter. Sometimes they’d get all the way to the phone and then start giggling. More often, they wouldn’t even get that far. I don’t know what the director finally did for the actual show (keep watching the old tube to find out—it’s the segment about the answering service), but he was beginning to panic…
Next month (hold your breath): Monkee romance (not with me, darn it)!