MR. MONK AND THE CLASS REUNION
by Mac Gordon (Location Manager)
A class reunion episode? Wow, I thought, this could be interesting. Of course, the first thing a location manager thinks about when dealing with schools -- are they in session?
Usually, if school is "in", availability is very limited. Yet for once, it seemed, we had a script that was timed appropriately to the real world. It was summer (well, almost -- UCLA was in exam week) and we have a college campus episode! This meant there were lots of possibilities to scout!
I didn't know that Mr. Monk went to UC Berkeley, but it makes sense. He did grow up in the San Francisco area and he is certainly smart enough. So we began to contact some colleges in Los Angeles that might work well with our image of the Berkeley campus.
USC, near downtown, was in summer session, and was very interested in having us. But then so were Woodbury University, Pierce College, and West Los Angeles College! And what about Occidental College? That small, historic campus in the Eagle Rock section of LA? Well, it turned out they too were off for the summer, and yes, we could scout their school as well.
It very quickly came down to "The Look" plus availability of specific buildings. Production Designer Chuck Parker and director David Grossman both felt we needed a more established, grander feel to match Berkeley.
Southern Cal fit the bill nicely with great quad areas and a fantastic library (in the Philosophy Building, no less!). But we still needed a student union cafeteria we could control for almost an entire day.
That's when Occidental College came to the rescue. They offered to move their breakfast and lunch to another area so we could film in their union. And the space looked great -- exactly what we hoped for.
Last, but not least, were the ballroom scenes. We scouted several buildings before finally settling on the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. It had a sort of "old school" alumni hall feel that David and Chuck liked.
The whole episode was shot over eight days, seven of them on location! Everyday had a large "extras" count and lots of set dressing. It was pretty exhausting for Miles and Jean, two of my Locations Dept. team, but I think the show looks great.
Hope you enjoyed it.