Final Transcript

 

  

  NEW MEDIA STRATEGIES: Monk – Tony Shalhoub Q&A Session

    July 28, 2009/11:00 a.m. EDT

                       

 

SPEAKERS

 

Chrissy Fehskens, New Media Strategies

Tony Shalhoub, Actor

 

 

PRESENTATION

 

 Moderator                  Welcome to the Monk – Tony Shalhoub conference call.  At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode.  Later we will conduct a question and answer session.  Instructions will be given at that time.  As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.  I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Chrissy Fehskens.  Please go ahead.

 

C. Fehskens                Good morning, everyone.  This is Chrissy Fehskens from New Media Strategies.  I wanted to welcome you to the Tony Shalhoub Q&A session and begin by thanking Tony for being with us today.

 

T. Shalhoub                 My pleasure.

 

C. Fehskens                As you know, Tony stars in USA Network hit series Monk, which will premiere its eighth and final season on Friday, August 7th, at 9:00/8:00 central.  In a moment, weÕll begin the Q&A session.  As a reminder, all participants are currently in a listen-only mode and will need to enter the moderated question queue in order to speak on todayÕs call.  Due to the number of participants who have dialed in, weÕre asking everybody to please limit themselves to one question at a time and then reenter the question queue for follow-up.  This will allow us to field as many questions as possible within the allotted time.  Again, this call is also being recorded for transcription, and youÕll receive a copy of the transcript within the next 48 hours. 

 

                                    IÕm now going to hand things back over to our moderator to begin todayÕs session. 

 

Moderator                   Thank you.  The first question comes from the line of Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine.

 

J. Steinberg                  Hello.  ItÕs such a pleasure to speak with you.  I appreciate your time.

T. Shalhoub                 Thank you. 

 

J. Steinberg                  I was wondering, whatÕs the lasting impression you want audience members to take from watching your show and watching you?

 

T. Shalhoub                 ThatÕs a great question.  I think, if I had to choose one thing, I would say that I would want people to take away this idea that sometimes peopleÕs problems or neuroses are really the things that are kind of a blessing in disguise, and even though thereÕs, you know, sometimes thereÕs pain associated with these things that sometimes in the face of adversity with obstacles to overcome, people can really kind of soar and find their higher selves and I think thatÕs what weÕve tried to do on the show is weÕve portrayed this character as someone who turns his liability, his liabilities into assets per his life.  And that thereÕs – and I hope that when we get to the end – I donÕt know this for sure, but I hope when we get to the end of season eight that weÕll have seen some real healing from Monk, and I believe in that.  I believe that there is healing and that there is change, and that all of those things are – they are just really, really key to all of our lives. 

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Jennifer Iaccino with Media Blvd.

J. Iaccino                     ItÕs wonderful to speak to you again.  Actually, we met at the Upfront in Chicago, the USA event last year.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Yes, I remember.  I remember.  That was such a great night.

 

J. Iaccino                     Indeed, it was.  IÕll try to make this quick.  I wondered if you had any input into the new changes of Monk because, I mean, from the ads, it seems that heÕs sort of looser and more comedic, and I wondered, I mean, because you mentioned that you really wanted to do a Galaxy Quest II.  I mean, do you have a preference to comedy or drama or horror, because I know youÕve done Thir13en Ghosts, and you had a big part in 1408 and such, so IÕm a big fan of yours.  IÕm sorry.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Thank you.  No, I appreciate it.  Well, I donÕt really have a preference, to be honest.  In fact, my preference, my only preference is to have a lot of variety and diversity in the material that I work on.  IÕve been so fortunate throughout my career, when I was doing theater, more theater than anything else, and when I was doing films that I got a chance just to do a broad range of things.  In fact, a lot of my choices that I made were about that very thing.  Every project that I had an opportunity to do or chose to do, I wanted it to be different from the last thing I did, and I think thatÕs why I have a good, you know, I had kind of a diverse kind of rˇsumˇ.  IÕm really – itÕs what I set out to do as an actor originally.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Joshua Maloni with Niagara Frontier.

 

J. Maloni                     Tony, thanks for your time today. 

 

T. Shalhoub                 Thank you.

 

J. Maloni                     You talked about the character and what he sort of means, but in terms of the pantheon of great television series, what sort of legacy do you think this show leaves, and what do you sort of take away from it in that regard?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, I think one of the things that will be remembered about this show, I hope will be remembered, is that at a time when there was, in a lot of television, especially with the onslaught of cable and in a period where television is kind of redefining itself, that there were precious few shows on the air that were suitable for a wider audience, like a younger audience, you know, people in their 30Õs and then people like elderly people in the 70Õs and 80Õs.  That there was a show that all those different demographics could tune into and appreciate, and would appreciate on their own level.

                                    And I think there arenÕt a lot of shows like that.  There havenÕt been a lot of shows like that in the last decade.  And I hope that thatÕs something that people will focus on and remember for a long time, you know, that itÕs still possible to do interesting stories and good comedy without having it have to be all exclusively adult themed kinds of things or super violent or with language that some people might feel is inappropriate for younger audiences, and that this show was kind of able to stand out and do that.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from the line of David Martindale with Hearst Newspaper. 

 

D. Martindale             Hello, Tony.  My first interview with you over the years was way back in Wings.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Wow.

 

D. Martindale             And I think youÕre one of the good ones, and IÕve always been happy for you, how well youÕve done for yourself, and the good work that youÕve done.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Thank you.

D. Martindale             One time when I interviewed you, you mentioned that youÕre the only one at your home who knows how to absolutely – the only right way to load the dishwasher, which struck me as a kind of Monk thing to say.

 

T. Shalhoub                 IÕm not the only one in my home.  IÕm the only one in my community, I think, my entire neighborhood, IÕm pretty sure.

 

D. Martindale             Who knows how to load the dishwasher right?  My question is, have you found that the longer you play Monk, that the differences between you, Tony, and the character has eroded, which is to say, have you become more like him, and he more like you, over the years?

 

T. Shalhoub                 I would say yes, absolutely.  I mean, I resisted it for a long time.  I wrestled with it.  I fought with it.  I was in denial about it and all of that.  But inevitably, you know, there have been some – you know, as I said, in interviews too.  I feel like IÕve been infected in some way by this character.  Tendencies, you know, minor tendencies that IÕve had in my life prior to Monk have just kind of ballooned and expanded and itÕs inevitably.  I mean, I just, thereÕs no point in trying to – IÕve given up trying to resist it.  IÕve had to just surrender to it.  I mean, IÕm hoping that when Monk is over that IÕll have some period of recovery, but IÕm not holding my breath.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Jim Halterman with The Futon Critic.

 

J. Halterman                Hello, Tony.  How are you?

 

T. Shalhoub                 IÕm well.  Thank you. 

 

J. Halterman                I wanted to know, you know, how is the final season structured?  I mean, the season premiere seemed like a very standard, great, hilarious episode, but when do we kind of get into the wrapping of things up?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Excellent question.  What the writers have in mind is to do, you know, as you said, our normal standalone episodes for the first, I would say, 11, because weÕre doing 16, as usual.  So the first 11, I would say, are going to be standalone, and then the last 5 is when weÕll be kind of connected.  TheyÕll have a connected tissue, and weÕll start to get into the wrap up, not just of Monk, but of some of the other characters as well.  Then what they want to do is the final two episodes, number 15 and 16, itÕll just be one story, a two-part, you know, aired in two segments.  Just to follow – that episode, I mean that two-part will involve the wrap up of TrudyÕs murder, you know, the solving of TrudyÕs murder.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Sarah Fulghum with TotallyHer.com.

 

S. Fulghum                  Hello, Tony.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Good morning.

 

S. Fulghum                  What was the deciding factor to make this season the final season?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, I think there were a lot of things at play there.  I mean, long conversations that I had with Andy Breckman, you know, one of the co-creators and the main writer.  WeÕve been talking all along about how many seasons to do, how many episodes that he had in him, you know, as the writer.  He, at one point, said that he didnÕt think really he had more than six seasons, and then he kind of got a gigantic second wind, and we did the seventh, and we werenÕt sure when we were doing the seventh if the network was going to go with us on the eighth.  But to make a long story short, we all kind of agreed that the eighth season would be it for all of us. 

                                    I think it will have 124 episodes by the end of the eighth season, and I think weÕre all ready to resolve the storyline and move on to other things.  We certainly donÕt want to go too long and have the quality start to wane and just limp to the finish line.  We want to go out while weÕre still really, we feel really that weÕre doing great work and delivering really strong episodes.  We want to go out on a high.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Beth Ann Henderson with NiceGirlsTV.com.

 

B. Henderson              Hello, Tony.  Thanks for taking our calls today. 

 

T. Shalhoub                 Thank you.

 

B. Henderson              I wanted to know how many of the old faces for past episodes are we going to see as a way of saying good-bye this last season?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, weÕll certainly, IÕm sure youÕve probably read because thereÕs been a lot of publicity about Sharona coming back.  Bitty Schram is going to come back for episode – I believe itÕs episode number 12, which will start shooting in September.  And they want to bring that character back and kind of wrap it up and kind of give that a good send off.  A lot of people really missed that character and the dynamic between Monk and Sharona.  And so weÕre all looking forward to that.

 

                                    Of course, weÕll see Harold Krenshaw comes back, one of my favorites.  HeÕs the other OCD patient who is always kind of in competition with Monk, played so brilliantly by Tim Bagley.  HeÕs going to return for at least a couple of episodes. 

 

                                    And well, thatÕs it.  I mean, of course, Dr. Bell, the psychiatrist will be in a number of episodes.  I donÕt think – people have asked if weÕre going to see Ambrose.  I donÕt really think that's in the cards simply because thatÕs É John is so busy.  ItÕs difficult to schedule him in.  I mean, if I had my way, weÕd do kind of what Seinfeld did and bring back almost every guest star there ever was on the show, but ours is going to go in a different direction.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Christine Nyholm with Examiner.com.

 

C. Nyholm                  Hello, Tony.  Thanks for talking to us today.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Okay.

 

C. Nyholm                  I have to tell you.  IÕm from Wisconsin.  YouÕre one of my motherÕs favorite actors.

 

T. Shalhoub                 IÕm in Wisconsin as we speak.  IÕm at a family reunion in Door County, so itÕs beautiful here. 

 

C. Nyholm                  Oh, itÕs fantastic there, and thatÕs actually my question is, being from Wisconsin, how did you make your way from Wisconsin to Hollywood, and do your Midwestern roots impact your acting at all and how?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Boy, I think so.  I think they do.  I went to college on the East Coast in Portland, Maine.  I went to graduate school at Yale Drama School.  I worked in the theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts for years, and moved to New York, and then to Los Angeles.  I mean, thatÕs kind of the – that was kind of the roadmap of it.

 

                                    But I also come back to Wisconsin every year, and I have family here, of course, and I donÕt know.  I just think thereÕs a – you know, this place kind of was a fantastic place to grow up and kind of keeps me kind of grounded and keeps me somewhat humble just to kind of return to it.  Yes, I think it just keeps me balanced.  I still have great, great friends and feel like itÕs home.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from the line of Laura Tucker with Small Screen Monthly. 

 

L. Tucker                    Yes.  Hello, Tony.  Thanks for talking to us today.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Okay.  Thank you. 

 

L. Tucker                    Just to reflect on some of the earlier questions somewhat, but itÕs a little more specific.  Have you, Tony, learned anything from your years with the character of Adrian Monk, and do you think Adrian has learned anything from Tony? 

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, I think yes.  I think I have learned something from Adrian.  I think IÕve learned to – sometimes, you know, hyper-focusing on things is actually a good thing to do.  Not all the time, and I wouldnÕt want to be as kind of fixed – you know, get as fixated and as obsessed as Adrian, but sometimes, you know, IÕve found that itÕs really helpful to look at things in my own life with the same kind of sort of relentlessness that Monk does, just turning something over and over and over and trying to see it from all angles, and not being too quick to judge something or label something.  So in that sense, I feel like IÕve gained a little real life wisdom.

 

                                    What has Monk gotten from me?  Boy, I donÕt know.  ThatÕs a really good question.  I feel like Monk has maybe become a little more – because I was playing the role, maybe Monk has become a little more open to others and embraces to the level, to the degree that he can, embraces other peopleÕs point of view.  I feel like IÕve been that kind of a person in my life, open-minded.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Joe Hummel with Pop Culture Madness.

 

J. Hummel                   Thank you very much for taking the call, Tony.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Thank you.

 

J. Hummel                   Some of my questions were kind of asked by a few other people, so I guess I have two quick, short things.  How involved were you with the development of the character of Monk, and are there any clues that point to the potential killer for Trudy besides the garage?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, I wasnÕt really there when the character was created.  The script was around for a number of years before it came to me, although I do feel that IÕve had some significant input.  When I came to the project, the script and the character was somewhat different, and I had long conversations with Andy Breckman about kind of morphing the character more towards to what I wanted to do, more to my strengths.  The original script that I read was somewhat more – was a little more slap sticky, and I wanted to emphasize the kind of darker aspects of this character and more É and so that was a conversation that a lot of the producers had in the beginning.  And I think Andy did such a great job morphing what he had originally written to fit me and what I wanted to do. 

 

                                    As far as the other clues, well, I donÕt want to give away too much before these episodes air because I think itÕs going to be a lot more interesting for people to discover things as we go along.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Lauren Becker with Shooting Stars Magazine.

 

L. Becker                     Hello.  My question was, youÕve already talked about how, through the years, youÕve become more similar to Monk, and I was just wondering if, in your own life, you found some of his compulsions entering your life in small ways and, if so, kind of what they were.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, you know, they take so many different forms and kind of crop up at the oddest times really.  Sometimes I feel like – there are moments when I feel like IÕm just nothing like the character.  But then something will happen, and IÕll just realize that IÕm rearranging something on a table at a restaurant, which seems that in that particular moment, seems like itÕs absolutely essential that the sugar packets are facing one way and that everything else has to stop until this particular task is completed.  Then I realize, what the hell am I doing?  IÕm channeling the character again.  So it would take me about an hour and a half to describe all of the things that occur, but just trust me.  It just kind of comes over me in waves, and I have to really, really check myself and try and pull myself out of these things. 

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Gino Sassani with Outcoming Disc.

 

G. Sassani                   Good morning, Tony.  How are you doing?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Good morning.

 

G. Sassani                   Listen, the question I have for you is that of course a big loss for your show throughout these years was the loss of Stanley Kamel as Dr. Kroger.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Yes.

 

G. Sassani                   And we know kind of how Monk is dealing with the loss of the character, but can you tell us a little bit about Tony dealing with the loss of Stanley?

 

T. Shalhoub                 You know, itÕs been really tricky, and we all speak É itÕs almost as if he has never left us because his name comes up in stories, and anecdotes come up about him all the time on the set.  And heÕs missed, but we try to sort of keep him alive in our – you know, keep in our midst.  He was there from the very, very beginning, from the pilot episode, and I have to say, you know, those scenes, those Dr. Kroger scenes in the pilot were so important, just in terms of my process, my discovery of who Monk was.

                                    I think those scenes in particular were the most informative for me and the richest.  They really, really helped me to kind of define the parameters of this guy, of my character.  So, yes, I kind of carry that with me and have for all these seasons.  And now, when IÕm in these sessions, these scenes with Hector Elizondo, who plays Dr. Bell, I canÕt even go into these scenes without just this little – I sort of do this little internal toast, as it were, to Stanley Kamel because he was the original doctor.  I like to think that heÕs kind of there in those sessions with me.  He is missed.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Travis Tidmore with the Cinemaniac.

 

T. Tidmore                  Hello, Tony.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Hello.

 

T. Tidmore                  Over the years, you guys, as youÕve discussed, have had a lot of guest stars on the show.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Yes.

 

T. Tidmore                  I was wondering if you had a favorite over the years and maybe a favorite youÕve worked with so far this year.

 

T. Shalhoub                 ItÕs so hard for me to pick a favorite because there have been so many great ones, and IÕve had the chance to bring friends of mine on the show, I mean, people that IÕve worked with in the past like Stanley Tucci and John Turturro and people that IÕve always wanted to work with like Laurie Metcalf.  But I have to say, of all of the seasons, and of all of the guest stars, the most thrilling for me was last season working with Gena Rowlands on Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door.  She was such a tremendous influence on me when I was a student and studying acting.  I was a devotee of John Cassavetes movies and the movies she did even separate from him.

 

                                    I was the one who actually when we were casting that particular episode, The Lady Next Door, there were a number of names on the list, and I pitched her name.  And I was stunned and thrilled to find out that she wanted to do it.  And then working those eight days with her was just, you know, I felt really, when we finished that episode, I felt like I could retire, that I had done everything I needed to do now.  She was so gracious and so good, and of course sheÕs been nominated for an Emmy for that episode too, so I will hopefully see her at the Emmys in September.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from the line of Josh Bozeman with BluesSite.com.

 

J. Bozeman                 Tony, itÕs an honor to talk to you.  Thanks for taking the time today.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Thank you.

 

J. Bozeman                 I think the character of Monk has been portrayed very respectful.  What was the process you went into in the research to try to make sure you didnÕt go over the top and play it maybe possibly offensive?

 

T. Shalhoub                 The process was really one of - itÕs a process that I use and have used in approaching other characters, which is to find out – you know, knowing that itÕs a comedy and to find out what – in any comedy, what I try to do is I try and find out what are the more serious aspects of the character.  And, conversely, when I do a serious role, I try and find out whatÕs funny about the character.  And the beauty of this particular character is that IÕve had the opportunity to do both comedy and drama within one series, one character. 

 

                                    So I guess to answer your question, itÕs really digging out the – when youÕre doing the comedic moments, digging out whatÕs really, really at stake and what is the most important and most serious thing to the character, which I believe informs the comedy.  And then conversely, you know, when the moments are really dark and poignant, trying to infuse those with an unexpected and sometimes inappropriate or seemingly inappropriate comedic flash, you know, a little spark of something absurd or comedic.  ThatÕs been my approach. 

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Sandy Lo with Star Shine magazine.

 

S. Lo                            Hello, Tony.  How are you today?

 

T. Shalhoub                 IÕm very well.  Thanks.

 

S. Lo                            I was just wondering.  I know you talked about your favorite guest stars, but I was wondering if you had a particular favorite episode of Monk.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Man.  This is so difficult because I have so many that are just so near and dear to me.  I kind of will reframe the question in the answer, I think.  The ones that – I will say the ones where I think we did, where weÕve done the best, in other words, those episodes where we did 100% of what we set out to do or 100% of how we imagined the show should be in a perfect world when weÕre doing our job – just the best.  Those episodes would be, I would say, the first John Turturro episode where we meet the character of Ambrose.  That was called Mr. Monk and the Three Pies. 

 

                                    Another favorite of mine was Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine because it was a chance for me to do this character almost as a different character – see a different part of him emerge.  We did an episode that we just shot in the first part of season eight, which will be airing in about a month.  ItÕs called Mr. Monk is Someone Else, and itÕs an episode where itÕs basically É assume this character of a man who looks just like him, but the character happens to be a professional hit man for the mafia, and this character dies, and Monk is asked to take on, you know, to take this guy on and become him.  And so those opportunities to kind of transform within the character are really, really challenging and satisfying. 

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from the line of Sarah Lafferty with StarPulse.com.

 

S. Lafferty                   Thank you, Tony, for taking your time to interview. 

 

T. Shalhoub                 YouÕre welcome.

 

S. Lafferty                   I have a question.  TrudyÕs murder has been one of the most successful narrative arcs in television history, rivaling even MulderÕs sister Samantha on the X-Files. 

 

T. Shalhoub                 Wow.

 

S. Lafferty                   So what do you think – while itÕs going to be addressed in the final season, do you think it should be solved or left for the audience as more of a McGuffin?

 

T. Shalhoub                 I really think it should be solved.  I know there are people who say that maybe it shouldnÕt because that would mean that there would be life for this character beyond the series and that possibly the solving of TrudyÕs murder would cure him in some way or take down his OCD symptoms, and then the character wouldnÕt really be the character that weÕve come to recognize.  But I really feel that weÕve worked this storyline so delicately and for so long that I think we owe it to not just the audience and to ourselves, but to the character of Monk and to the character of Trudy that weÕve created.  I think we should solve it.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Jessica Mahn with FanBolt.com.

 

J. Mahn                       Hello.  Good morning.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Good morning.

 

J. Mahn                       WhatÕs the most memorable moment youÕve had filming the series?

 

T. Shalhoub                 The most memorable moment?  I canÕt remember my most memorable.  I think I would have to say the most memorable moment would be when I was doing the episode with Stanley Tucci, Mr. Monk and the Actor, and he and I were, you know, having been reunited from having worked together for a number of times, he and I sort of, in the climax of the episode where I take the gun away from him, and weÕre kind of sitting on the floor leaning up against this counter thing, you know, kind of our arms over each otherÕs shoulders because it was reminiscent of a moment in Big Night, which was such a gigantic turning point for me, I think, in terms of film of my career.  So in that moment in Monk kind of reminded me of the moment in the movie was pretty emotional, a pretty emotional time. 

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Russell Trunk with ExclusiveMagazine.com.

 

R. Trunk                     Tony, wonderful to speak to you today, mate.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Thank you. 

 

R. Trunk                     Now just because USA is bringing the series to an end because of their choice and collectively yours, as weÕve heard, it doesnÕt mean another network down the line, a couple of years or so, wouldnÕt pick it up, following, of course, on from the reveal of who the killer was.  Now is this a choice that youÕve thought about that maybe you would contemplate a return to the character down the line in a couple, three years perhaps?

 

T. Shalhoub                 You know, IÕve given that a lot of thought.  I feel like IÕm ready to put this character to rest, but by the same token, I never say never, and circumstances could change, and I could change my mind.  Certainly IÕve been known to change my mind.  I just think time will tell.  I would never ever rule something like that out.  I hope that answers your question. 

 

Moderator                   Your next question comes from Earl Dittman with Wireless magazine.

 

E. Dittman                  Hello, Tony.  That kind of was my next question too.  Do you ever foresee maybe doing specials in the future?  And also, what are you going to miss the most about playing this character that youÕve played for so long?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, to answer your first question, I assume youÕre talking about like a TV movie or something of the character the way Colombo did.  I donÕt really see that being so likely just because I think IÕm going to be – IÕm hoping that IÕm going to be busy with other things.  Maybe IÕm diluting myself. 

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from the line of Jay Jacobs with Pop Entertainment.

 

J. Jacobs                      Hello, Tony.  How are you doing?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Good.  Thank you.

 

J. Jacobs                      Good.  I just watched the season premier, and this question is sort of specific to that.  Have you ever run across any people who are as passionate about Adrian Monk as Adrian was about ChristineÉ?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Yes.  I have to say that I have, actually, and itÕs kind of a disturbing notion.  But thatÕs kind of, you know, itÕs kind of been part of whatÕs been interesting about this character is that being an obsessive character, I find that there are obsessive fans.  There are people who know way too much about the details of the character and way too much about various moments in different episodes, things that I, frankly, have long forgotten, small, small details.  I suppose thatÕs good on the one hand.  You know, I just – itÕs – I just hope that those people keep a nice, healthy distance in the future, a nice, healthy, respectful distance. 

 

Moderator                   Your next question comes from Rosa Cordero with Accidental Sexiness.

 

R. Cordero                  IÕm a long-time fan.  IÕm very grateful that you took the time to speak to us today.

 

T. Shalhoub                 My pleasure.  Your fans want to know whatÕs up next for you.  After youÕre done with Monk, are you going to take a nice long vacation, or will we get the pleasure of seeing you more on the big screen?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, I donÕt want to take too long a vacation, although I do think I need a break.  I start to – whenever I take too long a break or donÕt work a while, all my demons start to resurface, and I go a little nuts.  And I did work on an independent feature this past winter, which I hope will be coming out soon called Feed the Fish, a movie that I acted in, but also co-produced, and a really nice É so weÕre looking for distribution to sell this picture, so people should look for that.

 

                                    But beyond that, I want to really, really take some time for myself to decide which direction to go next.  I might do some theater for a year before I do any more television.  I think I need a break from hour long episodic for a while.

 

Moderator                   Your next question comes from the line of Tom Parsons with Blog Critics.

 

T. Parsons                   Tony, thanks for taking our calls today.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Sure. 

 

T. Parsons                   I have a question about the character and how much freedom you have to kind of riff on the OCD?  It seems like there are moments in different episodes are just complete adlib where youÕre just playing that personality trait more for the comedic effect.  How much freedom do you have to just kind of take an idea and run with it?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, I have an enormous amount of freedom.  In terms of dialog, I try to stay really close to the script.  We all do, but we do have a writer with us on the set every moment, and weÕre always pitching ideas to this writer/producer and seeing what we can get away with.  But as far as physical behavior and things that I discover that may not be in the script, but are, but we discover in whatever environment weÕre in, whether itÕs somewhere outdoors or somewhere in an office or wherever the setting may be.  IÕve been able to kind of just find things and work with them.  ThatÕs whatÕs really been so exciting because itÕs kind of, thereÕs an endless, believe me, playing an OCD character with some of those tendencies myself, thereÕs an endless, endless array of stuff to become preoccupied with out there in the world, whether itÕs intentioned by the script or completely unintentional.

 

Moderator                   Your next question comes from the line of Adam Krause with Static Multimedia.

 

A. Krause                    Hello, Tony. 

 

T. Shalhoub                 Hello.

 

A. Krause                    To be honest, most of my questions I was hoping to ask you have been asked, so on a lighter note, knowing youÕre a Packer fan, and me being from Green Bay, Wisconsin myself, I was hoping to actually maybe get your feelings on the possibility of Bret Favre playing for the Vikings.  Does that upset you, like it upsets most of us? 

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, it doesnÕt really upset me, but it does – you know, I think if someone – this guy, that someone like him who is so passionate about his work and just cannot give it up, thinks he can give it up, and then discovers that itÕs impossible to give it up, I think in some ways I would be like him.  I would retire and then come out of retirement 17 times.  But I think whatÕs really, whatÕs a little bit unsettling to me is this idea of being at Lambeau Field on that day when the Packers are playing the Vikings, and he trots out through the tunnel wearing the wrong uniform.  I donÕt really have any desire to be at that game.  ItÕll be all I can do to – you know, IÕll be watching it on television with my remote getting ready to just flick it off really quickly.  IÕve lost a little sleep over that, but hey, the guy is just trying to make a buck, you know.

 

Moderator                   And your next question comes from Kendra White with SideReel.

 

K. White                     Hello.  Thanks for taking our questions.  This is a bit of a follow-up on a previous question.  A number of seasons ago, it looked like Monk could actually solve TrudyÕs murder.  Has it always been the plan to wait until the final season to possibly solve it, or were there ideas along the way to solve it, and then continue on in a different plot angle?

 

T. Shalhoub                 No, I think from as far back as I can recall, it was always part of Andy BreckmanÕs agenda to save the wrap-up until the end, I think the biggest reason being that it keeps Monk in a bit of a fog, and it keeps him on his heels, this unresolved, this one case that he just cannot figure out, and that heÕs just too close to, to figure out.  And so I think it was always part of his plan.

 

Moderator                   The next question comes from Roger Newcomb with We Love Soaps.

 

R. Newcomb               Hello, Tony.  Good to talk to you.  You played so many varying characters over the years, and IÕm looking forward to many more.  Do you have any interest to do more work behind the scenes?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Yes, actually, because IÕve been a producer on Monk from the very start, and thatÕs been such a great education for me, I have a couple things in mind that I want to produce that arenÕt necessarily vehicles for me.  But I think itÕs time for me to branch out into producing.  And then I would also like to do some directing.  IÕve done a little of that in the past, but itÕs something IÕd like to do more of.  But, of course, I would never consider giving up acting. I still want to keep that alive.  But because of the experience that IÕve gained and the contacts that IÕve made now, I think producing is definitely in my future.

 

Moderator                   Your next question comes from the line of Steve Reramo with Sci Fi and TV Talk.

 

S. Reramo                    Good morning, Tony.  A pleasure to speak with you today.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Good morning.

 

S. Reramo                    I wonder maybe if you could tell us what so far has made a career in this industry rewarding for you, would you say?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, a number of things.  Having the opportunity to work in all three different mediums: theater, film, and television.  Having the opportunity to work with people that I really respect, and having, most importantly, which was my original objective from way, way back was to have longevity in the industry.  It was never really one of my goals to gain tremendous amount of celebrity or make a tremendous amount of money necessarily.  But it was very important to me when I set out that I would be able to do it for a long period of time and not burn out too quickly or not paint myself into a corner necessarily by doing one thing, which is another reason why I think itÕs a healthy and a perfect time to bring Monk to an end because there are other things that I really want to do.

 

Moderator                   Your next question comes from Mark Eastman with RUScreening.com.

 

M. Eastman                Hello, Tony.  Thanks for taking the time.  I actually just kind of wanted to go – probably a lot of these things have been covered, but what I was wondering is the die hard fans donÕt really need to be convinced to tune in to the new season, but for those who maybe know the show, but are not quite addicted yet, apart from the obvious things, is there anything you can give us about maybe why we really need to tune in to the new season?

 

T. Shalhoub                 Well, yes, thatÕs a really good question.  I think people will be really gratified and startled maybe to see that the quality remains really, really high, that the stories are interesting, that we do a bit of what weÕve tried to do every season, which is kind of break our own rules and do some unexpected things.  We always have interesting guest stars.  We try to bring in people to do things that they may not be necessarily known for.  We try to do our guest casting so that it isnÕt completely on the nose.  For example, we have Jay Moore coming in an upcoming episode that we shot recently.  He plays a sort of super lawyer, a super kind of É Johnny Cochran super lawyer who never lost a case.  And itÕs really an interesting turn by Jay Moore.  I think we keep it kind of just off center enough to make it interesting.  I hope we do.

 

C. Fehskens                We have time for one more question.

 

Moderator                   The question will come from Sheldon Wiebe with Eclipse Media.

 

S. Wiebe                      Hello, Tony. 

 

T. Shalhoub                 Hello.

 

S. Wiebe                      Something that IÕve always liked about the series is that MonkÕs OCD may be the source of some comedic moments, but itÕs never been treated as a gimmick.  ItÕs never been played that way.  And every year, Monk has to do something large like IÕm thinking of the scene where, the sequence where he was in the sewer.

 

T. Shalhoub                 Yes.

 

S. Wiebe                      Sometimes when itÕs life and death, he can overcome the OCD, but we know heÕll never be completely without it.  How do you figure the season will find him in terms of the OCD, solving the case with Trudy will give him a little more control, or will he spin further out because there wonÕt be that big goal?

 

T. Shalhoub                 No, I think it will give him some – I think it will actually help him, and it will give him some kind of peace and some kind of – and in that peace, his OCD symptoms will begin to, you know, significantly drop away.  And when that happens, I think heÕll be able to move forward in his life.  You know, he wonÕt feel so paralyzed.  He wonÕt feel so – he wonÕt have such an aversion to being with other people.  He might even, who knows – I donÕt know because the writers havenÕt revealed this to me, but he might even be able to find love and romance in his life again.  All those things, I think, remain, you know, all those things are on the table and are good possibilities.

 

C. Fehskens                Ladies and gentlemen, thatÕs all the time we have for today. IÕd like to once again thank Tony of taking the time to be with us this morning. 

 

T. Shalhoub                 Thanks.

 

C. Fehskens                For all participants, transcripts of todayÕs session will be distributed within 48 hours, so please look for those.  Additionally, as part of the final season, USA Network will present the first, live action, original Web series on USANetwork.com called Little Monk, which is a spin-off of the critically acclaimed series.  Little Monk will premiere during an all new episode of Monk on Friday, August 21st with a two-minute sneak peek.  Viewers can then go online for the conclusion along with additional webisodes to run weekly.  WeÕll also send out information about that along with todayÕs transcript, which youÕll receive shortly.  And, of course, remember to tune in to the season premier of Monk on Friday, August 7th at 9:00/8:00 central on USA Network.  Thanks again so much, everybody, for participating, and enjoy the rest of your day.