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Mel Title

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October 2nd 2005

Mel Fair will guest star in the upcoming 2006 season four episode “Mr. Monk Bumps His Head” as a state trooper. Mel, age 41, was born on March 22, 1964 in Homestead, Florida. Once an award winning sportscaster, Mel is probably best known as the writer/director/producer of TNN's (Now SpikeTV's) Trucks and Car and Driver Television.

Mel has appeared in many episodic and daytime shows including CSI: Miami, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The District, Miss Match, General Hospital and Passions.

He is also a talented voice-over artist who can be heard in numerous commercials and video games. Mel has been a happily married man since July 31st 1993: "12 years, two months and two days," he says unhesitatingly. He and his wife Cari have one daughter, Taylor Brooke, 6, and another daughter on the way. I recently spoke to Mel about his experience on Monk.


How did you get the role on Monk?

"That story is fascinating," says Mel. "My daughter, Taylor Brooke, got called in to play a little girl for the episode 'Mr. Monk and the Astronaut.'"

Taylor Brooke has been acting for a few years. "Her first commercial was for Best Western," Mel recalls, but she's been around show business for longer than that.

"Ever since she was a year old she's been going to producer-director auditions with me. I'm not one of those parents who doesn't want their children to have anything to do with the business," he admits.

Mel felt the atmosphere on Monk was a positive one for Taylor. "There was a rapport she had with Corbin [the casting director.] He was brilliant with her.

"When we went in and got the sides for her, I saw there was a role for a reporter. I was familiar with casting director Corbin Bronson, so I took him aside and asked him about it. The role was not available, but during the pre-read, two weeks later, he said they had a part available... as a state trooper, not a reporter. I know it was a blessing. I play a state trooper. I worked with Tony and with Charles Napier who plays the sheriff, Sheriff Bates.

The atmosphere was apparently very positive for Mel as well. "You’re only as good as the actor you’re working with" and with Tony and with Charles Napier it was easier to be good. "All you have to do is listen," says Mel. "It's a real gift to work with them... and working in this business is a privilege not a right."

Where were your scenes shot?

"Out in Santa Clarita," Mel remembers. "It’s where CSI films. There’s a lot of filming done there. It’s sort of non-descript."

Did you work with the entire cast or just Tony Shalhoub?

"Yes, just Tony. I was just there for the day," says Mel. "But, you know Tony's brother, Michael Shalhoub, was there."

What was his role?

"The bee wrangler, but they don't call it that.... He's the beekeeper.
That guy was a real pistol," Mel remembers. "Very funny. And with him, it has nothing to do with nepotism. He's been on the show before ['Mr. Monk and the Missing Granny'] and he said he tried out for the role of the brother, that went to John Turturro. ' They even knew the DNA's all gonna match,' he said.'What are you gonna do?'

Are the brothers much alike?

"The brothers are very different," Mel admits. "Michael has much more energy. You might think it would be the opposite. Tony is just a prince, but more reserved."

Is Tony Shalhoub fun to work with?

"We filmed the Friday before the Emmys, but that didn't make a difference with Tony he was... he really was just a prince. He was very focused, of course, and he's under a lot of pressure because he's the lead and the executive producer. He's pulled in all directions, but he's normal and nice to everbody. And in the scene I'm in he was covered with a thousand bees, just covered in bees. When the scene was over he was just very happy to have them removed."

There were no bees on you? [I'm a tiny bit cnidophobic so this part of the conversation was freakin' me out a little.]

"I was in a bee suit. You may not be able to see much of me," says Mel. "You never know what the editor is going to do. You learn not to build up your expectations, but even is you sometimes end up on the cutting room floor, you know, work begets work. [The role] was such a blessing. Everyone one was just so genuine."

What was working on Monk like compared to other work you've done?

"I don’t believe in luck, I believe in blessings," Mel declares. "This is a great show. I’ve worked on a lot of shows and very few were as genuine as they are. The director, Steve Surjik, called me before we started, to say 'Welcome and thanks for helping us out.' It's very unusual for a director to take the time to do that.
It really was a gift and true blessing."

Did you watch the show before you got the role?

"Well, yes, I try to watch at least one episode of any show I work on," says Mel
"but my wife’s mother and my wife’s grandmother, Granny, are both Monk fans. It’s a job to you, but sometimes it can be more of a thrill for your family and watching their reaction makes it more exciting for you. It was a thrill to get to work with Tony."

Was there any ad-libbing in your scene or was it pretty much according to script?

"With TV everything is pretty solid, you know, standards and practices. The series regulars have a little more opportunity for that, but as a hired gun you don't want to do that. It's about respecting the writers. It's your responsibility to make it work as written.

Even when Tony had suggestions or changes, the writer (Andy Breckman) and Tony worked shoulder to shoulder to make them. Tony was very respectful and humble that way when he worked with the writer."

Any phobias of you own?

"Heights. Now that I've said that I'll probably get something to do with heights, but I'd take it I'd overcome it. Russell Crowe got very seasick, but he took Master and Commander and one reason he took the role was to to overcome that."

So if you were offered a role as a parachutist, you'd take it?

Yes, I would.

With a background in broadcast journalism and documentaries like Trucks, what is it about acting that’s attractive to you?

"The creativity and fun. I do a lot of different things: sportscaster, writer , director, film, TV, stage. I just booked a pilot with the people who do Rugrats. I'm the voice of beefcake [does voice]. It it were live action at 175 pounds I can’t hope to play this guy, but with animation it works."

What's the show called?

"Big Babies. We'll see if the pilot gets picked up.

" When I was a little kid I was overweight," Mel remembers. "I was 290 ponds in high school. When I was nine years old my Uncle took me to a theater where I saw Rich Little perform. It was amazing and I learned how to do voices, because when I got picked on in school I could use humor. If someone said 'You look like Baby Huey,' I would just do the Baby Huey voice [does voice] and make them laugh."

It's a talent that still comes in handy for Mel these days, too. "Of course, if it was on camera I'd never get hired to be a 65 year old black man [does voice], but I can if it's the voice."

What’s the one thing you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet?

Mel pauses thoughtfully. "I'd like to be a better husband, a better father and encourage other actors. When all is said and done I'd like it to be said that guy was encouraging. Acting and entertaining is very important. It’s a big responsibility and sometimes that responsibility is wasted. I want to look in the mirror and ask what can I do to be a more positive influence. We have the power of the medium to bridge so many gaps. The lesson I've learned is don’t let your disappointment make you one to those around you. In 2004 I didn’t work. I never know, but you just look in the mirror and be better. At the end of the day, I’m a cheesy guy who believes inspiration matters."

Additional sources for biographical Information:
The Internet Movie Database
Most Wanted
Core Productions

Susan Nathe and Associates



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