Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Monkey Talk


As many of you over 40 years of age know, Michael Nesmith of the Monkees passed away last week. Of all the Monkees, I believe he was my favorite. He had a very dry wit about him. Not unlike George Harrison in the Beatles. Actually all the Beatles had an exceptional sense of wit and humor, watch their black and white movies for evidence.

Oddly enough, by way of marriage, several marriages, I have a relationship with one of the Monkees -- Peter Torkelson, who passed away in 2019. 

He was married to my ex-brother-in-laws sister. I met her but never met Peter. They all live in the suburbs of Boston and with the exception of Bat and Bar Mitzvahs, only got back to Massachusetts a few times.

Which between us girls was a lifesaver because after 3-4 days of that accent, I felt parts of my brain searching for the porthole to the large intestine and eventual escape. Plus I was born in the Bronx. 

Go Yankees!

But here's where the story gets semi-interesting.

As I was toiling as copywriter for Bernard Hodes Advertising and my buddy Jim was toiling as an in-house copywriter for Teleflora (The Beautiful Banquet Bouquet, was $8.99, now only $7.99), we both spent our free time chasing women and writing spec TV scripts. Rarely succeeding at either.

Somehow, and neither of us remembers how, we managed to swing a pitch meeting with the Executive Producer of The New Monkees. That's right, in 1987 some ambitious cable TV network execs thought it'd be a good idea to get the band back together. Not the original band, but new, peppier, edgier, Flock of Seagulls haircut young lads who could breathe new life into the Monkees franchise.

What, you don't remember the colorful, high flying antics of Dino, Larry, Marty and the other forgettable schmuck? I can't imagine why, but I can show you the opening credits to the show which unsurprisingly only lasted 1 season, much to the dismay of 13 regular viewers and the Executive Producer's mother.

You can see it here:

I spoke with Jim last week and while he remembered our nervous trip up to Universal or Warner Bros. lot, he doesn't recall much else about the meeting. Considering Jim and his writing partner Tom would eventually find themselves pitching movie ideas to Steven Spielberg and a host of other Top Shelf directors and producers, it's little wonder he wiped this New Monkees debacle from his mind.

My career in Hollywood was inglorious and mercifully short-lived, so you'd think I might have some vague idea of what we pitched. I don't. I only know that because it was our first pitch meeting and could've have gained us entry into that world, we didn't come with one idea, we came with a dozen.

All of them equally pathetic and stupid, which if you watched the opening credits was the currency of the realm. I suspect they were somewhere along these lines:

1. In this one, Larry breaks a pinky and can't play guitar so the New Monkees have to audition a new member for an upcoming tour. Hilarity ensues.

2. Helen, the Artificial Intelligent House Mother makes chili for the boys and they all get food poisoning.

3. The band takes a road trip and gets stranded in the high desert town of Boron. 

...and on and on, it went.

We didn't sell any ideas. Nor did we write any scripts. We didn't hitch our star to that of the New Monkees.

Bullet dodged.

No comments: