married to the actress Wendy Rolfe
Evered. They have two children
and live in Los Angeles and Princeton,
willingly and kindly answered
a list of questions I sent to
him about his Monk experience.
Is this your first experience
writing for an episodic TV series?
Yes, this is my first
experience writing for episodic
How were you
originally approached about writing
a Monk episode?
Andy [Breckman], in general,
seems to be a fan of my work —
especially my plays, and offered
me an episode to write. Andy was
nice enough to come to a production
of a play of mine called The
Shoreham, that starred Eric
Stoltz and my wife, the actress
Wendy Rolfe Evered at The Black
Dahlia theatre in LA a few years
ago. Andy really appreciates writers
from media outside of TV, which
of course I'm happy about.
your idea? Is it what you originally
pitched to them?
"Leper" was not my idea.
It was an idea the writers had worked
up. They brought me in during the
story breaking period.
Have they changed
the title to “Mr. Monk and
the Bad Client” or will it
air as “Mr. Monk and the Leper.”
I believe it'll air as "Mr.
Monk and the Leper,"---but
don't hold me to it!
Can you describe
the process of writing the episode?
The process of writing the
episode was really fun----basically,
you sit in the room with a bunch
of talented and funny writers and
try to keep up with them---then,
I take everything we worked up in
the room for the week and go off
and do a writer's draft,---and hand
it in about a month later.
What is it
like working with the Monk writing
I really enjoyed working
with the Monk writers, especially
because they're such an eclectic
group. Some are really fast on plot,
story, and some are really hilarious
joke writers and somehow that combination
works for them. It was a really
low key room, no competition, no
of that, which was a nice way for
me to break into the episodic world.
As a playwright, as you could imagine,
I'm used to working alone a lot.
Had you seen
the series before you began working
on it? If so what was your opinion?
I had seen the series
before I wrote for it, and I'm particularly
fascinated with the character of
Monk — I think he's very different
from a lot of characters on television
in that he's flawed, and more complex.
also written a screenplay with Andy
Breckman. What is that about?
Andy and I worked on
a screenplay called President's
Day, --Andy and I came up with the
story, and I wrote the screenplay.
It's about ghosts in the Whitehouse,---sort
of a modern day Ghost Busters set
in Washington, DC.
Was it much
different working with him on the
screenplay than it was working on
the Monk episode?
It was different working
with Andy on a screenplay because
it was just the both of us in the
room---and so we were able to really
focus on the arc of the story. He
and I get along really well, so
there's no stress involved at all!
worked on theatrical plays, screenplays
and TV. Is there one you prefer?
If so, why?
I think of the three sorts
of writing I've done, TV, screenplays
and plays, I would have to say theatre
will always be my favorite for the
very reason that plays---while they
don't pay you as well---they do
afford you a lot more freedom as
a writer and you're afforded much
greater latitude in terms of the
subject matter and the styles you
could play around with. Also, there's
the fact that as a playwright, you
own what you write, and no one can
change a word of it without you
signing off on that. In that way,
I feel a lot more in control as
a playwright. But, the bottom line
is---I like telling stories, and
if I had to write all my stories
down on napkins at a diner, that
would be fine with me too----the
medium means less to me than the
fact that my story gets told somehow.
What is the
most interesting aspect of writing
The most interesting
thing about writing for television
is the speed at which things move.
In writing for film, things take
forever ---- not just the deals,
but the development process, the
rewrites, etc. In TV, you write
it and a couple months later, you
see it---that's amazing to me.
working on a pilot for your own
TV series. What’s that about?
I am working on a pilot
for NBC---it's a half hour comedy
about what it's like to be in the
armed forces back here at home.
Kind of an office comedy, except
it takes place in the military.
I'm a huge fan of MASH, and so I'd
like it to be in that world a little
or New Jersey, which do you like
California or New Jersey!?
Hmm. There are a lot of beautiful
things about California that my
wife and I love, — the ocean,
the desert, the weather —
mostly things related to nature.
I'm not much into the LA/Hollywood
scene. When I think of California,
I think of places like Joshua Tree,
or Lone Pine, or up the Coast, —
Northern California, places like
that. I don't think of the Sunset
Strip or Hollywood as California,
I think of them as industry saturated
malls, really. New Jersey on the
other hand, well, I was born and
grew up there, so it will always
be home in a way. I'm always thankful
that most people have no idea how
beautiful most of New Jersey is
— I would prefer they think
it's all like the Sopranos, or stuff
like that. Because the truth is,
it's a beautiful state. We live
in Princeton, so it's hard to beat
that. The culture, the schools,
the university---all the museums,
the arts related events. There's
so much for a family there. And
I wouldn't be too happy having my
kids growing up in LA. Also, living
in Princeton, it's kind of nice
living around a bunch of brilliant
academics, Nobel Laureats, etc.
Only in Princeton can you go to
a Starbucks and overhear two people
arguing about the subtext in WAR
AND PEACE — whereas in LA,
people seem too close to the industry,
too inundated and obsessed with
it. I really appreciate the distance
and perspective living in Princeton
affords me and my family.