The two in character
Dan FitzPatrick as O'Neill
Jonathan Ames as Jergenson
Jon & Dan were in many of the office scenes, most of the time up to mischief with their boss, David Addison
Here O'Neill (Dan) is playing the trashcan bongos during the limbo party in "My Fair David"
Here they are in the strip poker game in "Blonde on Blonde"
Here they are leering at the naughty surveillance photos from the McClafferty case in "Maddie's Turn to Cry"
Here they are getting an earful as Addison tells them all about the 1-900-Sex-Talk line he has discovered in "I See England, I See France..."
They were also usually found in many of the office scenes providing reactions to what was going on.
Here they are part of the group reacting to Agnes DiPesto's approach to new employee Herbert Viola in "Yours Very Deadly"
Here they are the first celebrants into the church to await the wedding in "Atomic Shakespeare"
Here Jergenson (Jon) can be clearly seen eavesdropping on his bosses in "Sam and Dave"
Here they are blocking the door for David Addison in "A Trip to the Moon" so that Maddie won't escape before he makes his big announcment
Here they are in "I See England, I See France..." once again listening in on their bosses
An Afternoon with Blue Moon's Jergenson and O'Neill: Jon Ames & Dan FitzPatrick
On Wednesday, August 22, I had the pleasure of meeting with Jonathan Ames and Dan FitzPatrick, two men that you probably know better as Jergenson and O'Neill of the Blue Moon Detective Agency office staff. We were hosted by Jon at the world famous Friar's Club in Beverly Hills.
I cannot think of three hours more pleasantly spent. Jon and Dan were funny and charming, and quite obviously remain good friends. There was much laughter as they regaled me with some stories of their time together on "Moonlighting," and some insights into life as they knew it on our favorite show.
I am very grateful for their time and indulgence. They are two true gentlemen, and I consider it a privilege to have shared this time with them. I hope you will enjoy the result as well.
~~Diane Hopkins, Site Co-editor
Interview conducted by Diane Hopkins, All Rights Reserved
August 22, 2002
Diane: First, we'd like to know, how did you guys get cast originally. How did you start out in the very beginning of your "Moonlighting" career?
Jon Well, I was there first. Originally, I was sent out by the extra casting agency, which was the Atmosphere Agency, and I was just sent out on a general interview. They were looking to cast people as regular office people. Normally, shows that have a regular bullpen of people have a regular group and then they have alternates, and I was originally an alternate. The first show I think I worked on was the third episode of the first six, and I ended up working every episode since then, and I became a regular person. I guess I became a regular officially at the beginning of the first full season. I did the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth episodes originally...I guess officially as the alternate, and through attrition, kids just kept falling out, and I was there from that point on.
Diane: How about you, Dan?
Dan: Mine was a little different. I had a friend who was sent out and his car just wouldn't run. So he asked me to drive him. I showed up, and they were auditioning.
Diane: Were you acting at that point?
Dan: Yeah. I had met the guy at the same time that I had first met Jon - on a movie project.
Jon: Dan and I had met several times earlier on "The Best of Times". That's where we first knew each other and became friends.
Diane: I just happened to watch that last week, coincidentally.
Dan: Well, you have to see the stuff that's on the floor to catch us.
Dan: They cut some of my most brilliant work.
Jon: Mine too, but at least I still get paid for it.
Dan: Yeah, the money still keeps coming in.
Jon: I got a check the other day for eleven dollars.
Dan: Yeah, the paperboy laughs at me. Well, anyway, I was watching while they were doing the audition - it consisted of doing the limbo dance, the infamous limbo dance. So, as they were putting these people through dancing, they came over to me and said, "Are you here to audition?" and I said, "No". They said, "Why not?" and I said, "That looks stupid, and I am stupid enough looking as it is, and I'm not gonna do that". And they said, "Are you sure"? "Yeah". They went back, and somebody else came over, and finally, Will MacKenzie came over and said, "If you didn't have to do the limbo, would you like to be on the show?" I said, "Sure". So if you view that episode, you'll see me playing the bongos on the bottom of a wastebasket. "I will be in your show if you can do it that way."
Jon: That was -
Dan: My Fair David
Diane: So, when they gave you these roles, how did they define these roles?
Jon: They didn't.
Dan: They didn't. If you take a look at it, I figured out what they were looking for…what accidentally I had given them, which made them want me was, in virtually everything we do, was what another friend of mine called the "stunned mullet" look.
Jon: Yeah, almost no expression, unless they specifically asked for something. We just sat there with no expressions on our faces.
Dan: You could relax every muscle in your face. You were in - you just had to show that there was a face there, but obviously nothing going on behind it. So we would just sit there. A typical move would be...
(Dan demonstrates by taking all signs of any expression from his face.)
(They both laugh.)
Jon: Well, we didn't have a whole lot to do in the office, so…..
Jon: Honestly, anything that we did was purely us, and sometimes, if we went too far, they would stop us. They would say, "You know what? Don't do that."
Diane: Like what?
Jon: Well, there were times when we wanted to do stuff and we didn't. A classic example of that was when they did the thing with Rona Barrett. We were sitting there, just sitting at the office, sitting there at the desks, and Dan was sitting there and we were both kind of looking at each other and we had thought about waving and going "Hi, Mom!" but we thought, "Nah, they'd probably ask us not to" and we joked about doing that at some future date. Well afterwards, they said, "You guys should have done that. It would have been great."
Dan: Instead we did the Stan and Ollie "nod" to each other.
Jon: Yeah, we just kind of looked at each other when they [Maddie and David] kissed and we nodded and smiled. But we thought about it and just thought it would be pushing it too far. And then we found out later they would have loved it if we had done that. So you never really knew, you never really knew.
Diane: Good. Now, I'm trying to decide how to ask this next question, if the roles weren't defined. Dan said that his first appearance was playing the bongos. Jon, do you remember what you did?
Jon: My first scene?
Diane: Um hmm.
Jon: More than likely just getting up and walking across the office. I don't recall really doing anything particular until that first full season when they were involving us in stuff. Before then, we were just people in the office walking - you would get directions from the second assistant director - he'd say, "OK, on this line, you're gonna get up and you're gonna walk to get a cup of coffee, and someone else is gonna get up and get a file from somewhere." That was pretty much what it was. I think we were non-entities for a while. Until they started involving us more.
Dan: I think that was their point at the time that I was brought in - they were getting a definite "look" to the group. The first season, obviously, they just needed people to move papers and walk around. They thought, "We want to write these people to be more a part of the action, so what is the look we want?" And the "stunned mullet" look was obviously what they wanted.
Dan: And unfortunately, we're as bright as we look.
Jon: This is true.
Diane: I might need to revise this next question a bit. Our original question is "Tell us the scenes that you think you did that defines your character best".
Dan: Couldn't answer. I haven't seen the show.
Jon: Well, there was a lot of stuff. Eventually, they started getting more and more stuff where they devised more for the office staff to do. All kinds of goofy stuff - do the limbo, and you know, all kinds of other nonsense like that, and eventually they started doing that.
Diane: Do you remember any of these, Dan?
Dan: It's all kind of a blur, man...like the 60's.
Diane: So if I'm going to ask you what your favorite episode is, you're not going to be able to tell me - or you are?
Dan: Well, I wouldn't be able to tell you what the other episodes were...but definitely Atomic Shakespeare.
Jon: That was a favorite of all of us.
Dan: And another one that I really enjoyed was the one that Curtis and Allyse did - Casablanca.
Jon: Yeah. Here's Looking at You, Kid. That was a great one. And we lobbied to get ourselves some of the character roles in the Casablanca thing, and for some reason or other, it just never happened. It was another one of those things - later they said, "That would have been a great idea to have some of you guys in the office staff play some of those characters..." And we said, "OK, why do you tell us that now? Now that it's done?"
Diane: Did you feel like you could ask for that kind of thing?
Dan: If you were talking with Glenn, you could ask for anything, and he'd probably lean towards it, but then Jay Daniel would probably shoot it down.
Jon: The problem was...here was the problem. They were under the impression that...from the Screen Actor's Guild...which turned out to be erroneous information, but they had originally called the Screen Actor's Guild to find out how far they could push us. And the Screen Actor's Guild told them, that if they had upgraded us, if they had let us do dialogue, if they let us actually talk, they would have to do one of two things. They would either have to keep us upgraded at a much, much higher rate as actors, forever, for as long as we were on the show, number one, or number two, get rid of us - neither of which they wanted to do. As it turns out, that was wrong information. But that was the answer they got, and they stuck with it. And it took us two solid years of busting our ass, trying to get ABC Circle Films and the Screen Actor's Guild together, so they would actually get them the right information, the right information being that if you are officially there as extras…we were there as extras and stand-ins, but as extras as far as being on camera……then if you're upgraded in a particular episode, you stay upgraded as an actor till the end of that episode, and once the episode is over, you revert back to your status for the next episode as an extra. Which is fine…which is exactly what we would have wanted…so if they wanted Dan to say something, fine, OK, for the rest of this episode, as long as he's on this show, he works as an actor, until the next episode starts and then he goes back to being his extra character.
Diane: And that's actually the dialogue portion of it, no matter what you did physically?
Jon: Oh yeah, once you're upgraded and you're the same character, the Screen Actor's Guild says you have to stay upgraded till the end of the episode.
Diane: But speaking makes the upgrade?
Jon: Yes. And even if you don't speak ever again in that episode, you still stay at that higher level. So it took us two years of calling SAG, and calling the producers. And the producers didn't want to call because they said, "Well, this is what SAG told us." And then I'd call SAG and they'd say, "The producers have to call us." And I said, "But they did, and you gave them the wrong information." So as far as everyone was concerned, except for us, everyone had the answers and they didn't care. So as far as they knew, we were never gonna talk again. So the end of this story was that the episode for Father Knows Last came out, in which there were four……well, we used to see the scripts, which usually got rewritten a thousand times - anyone who sees an actual copy of an actual script, will see there are like forty seven revisions, they would run through the colors eight or nine times...So there were four off camera lines for office staff members, and up until that point, whenever there was an on camera line, they would hire somebody that no one had ever seen before, most likely somebody like Will Nye, who was in a couple of the episodes, and then they would get rid of him, as opposed to having anybody in the office, who looked familiar, do the lines. So, what they did was, they had these four off camera lines. I went up to the associate producer, who was Chris Welsh at the time, and I said, "Why don't you let us do those lines off camera, as opposed to letting the looping group or somebody else do them? Let us do them." They called SAG, and SAG said, "By the way, not only can you let them do it off camera, you can let them do it on camera." And then they explained to them finally what the whole situation was. So at that point, it started getting a lot better for us. And that episode is when we were actually all officially allowed to speak. You know, that was the one where he disappears, he goes to Chicago, and he disappears, and they take all the furniture away...
Diane: That's actually one of my favorite episodes.
Jon: No work and pay...and I say "Where's my money?"
Diane: No work and pay.
Dan: Right, no work and pay. I've tried to live by that motto ever since.
Jon: So anyway, that's what happened. A very long winded answer.
Diane: So Jon, you're sticking with Atomic Shakespeare as your favorite episode too?
Jon: Yes, I think because we had a lot of fun.
Dan: We were miserable most of the time while making it as you might recall.
Dan: Yes, physically.
Diane: Looking at those costumes, you must have been.
Dan: They were extremely heavy, it was very hot during the day...we would get there and it was freezing --
Jon: Yeah, we would get there at four o'clock in the morning, it was freezing cold….
Dan: And they were done authentically - designed...like right now, I don't need to use the rest room, but this is the time you'd better start getting ready to, because it's a long way to get anything...to get them off...so you couldn't wait a while...it was like twenty minutes out or in...
Jon: Oh yeah. And it was very cold. I think we had a four or four thirty AM call, and it was freezing cold, then it would heat up in the afternoon, and you'd be sweating, and now you're soaking wet, and then the sun goes down, and now you're freezing your ass off again. It was really……and we all had the beards, with the spirit gum on……it was so uncomfortable.
Dan: And the heavy hats...miserable...and we were also having a hell of a lot of fun.
Jon: And having a lot of fun.
Dan: We were playing make-up.
Jon: That was also one of the first times they actually treated us like we were special. We had our own trailer...the boys -- me, Dan, and Willie had our own trailer, and the girls, who were I think Kris, Jamie, and I think...was it Diana?
Dan: I think it was.
Jon: Well, they had their own trailer too...as opposed to all the extras who had to change in a tent. They were actually treating us like we were actually part of the cast. It was one of the great times.
Dan: The crew was always really good to us. Like a real family. But we spent so much time together. Sixty hours was kind of a short average...you were constantly with the show. Most of us went through a divorce during the show.
Jon: And lots of people remarried during the show.
Dan: We just weren't home...we were always at the studio.
Jon: I do have a good story about Atomic Shakespeare.
Diane: Please go ahead.
Jon: Will MacKenzie, who I think was probably our favorite director of the episodes, Will MacKenzie was one of those guys where as a director he did not come in with everything set in his head. He was always willing to get input from other people about things, and when he saw something funny, he laughed! There was a scene in which they were at the church, and it's during the wedding scene, and they're going to be doing "Good Lovin'". And originally the script called for Bruce to run down the aisle, and then to come back to the altar by jumping on the pews. And he said to Will, "You know, I may be able to do that once. But if I have to do that more than once, I'll probably break my leg and then I'll fall over and kill myself..." All that. So I said, speaking for me and Dan and Willie -- "Why don't we carry him back?" And Will kind of looked at us like, what do you mean? I said, "We can run down the aisle, and wait for him, and when he comes running up the aisle, he can jump up on our shoulders, Willie and I being about the same height and Dan can be behind --
Jon: Holding up the ass end.
Jon: So Will said, "Can you guys do that?" I said, "Sure we can do that. What's the big deal?" So at some point, during the song, if you watch the show, you see the three of us kind of get up and just walk out into the aisle, we're kind of dancing up the aisle. We go about fifty or sixty feet up the aisle and we're down there waiting for Bruce to come running up, he jumps, lands on our shoulders, and we kind of dance and carry him back up to the altar, kind of throw him up on the altar, and that was the end of it. It was nice because they gave us the input to do that. And they thought it was hysterical, and they loved it.
Dan: Will MacKenzie was an actor, so he knew. You know who Will MacKenzie is? He was on the Bob Newhart show. He was the secretary's husband.
Jon: That's right. He used to call her Big Red.
Diane: Oh right...OK.
Jon: Marcia...Marcia Wallace. He called her that in a kind of nasally voice. He was such a nice guy and he was always willing to get input from anybody.
Dan: I used to see him years later, when I was working over at Universal on some show over there, and he always said, "How are you?" He's up there with Glenn Caron with me. He's on that level where typically there can be a lot of problems, or they're in a different sphere, they think, where he's just another good guy.
Jon: Yeah, he was a good guy. He was a very good guy. We always liked him. We always liked to see when he was directing an episode. Or as Sam Weisman said, "You don't direct an episode, you host it."
Diane: You talked about sitting around and spending a lot of time. What kind of things did you have to do? Did you have to be there all the time? How did the calls work?
Dan: Well, typically he and I would be what they call the stand-ins. So we were there if there were cameras gonna roll, whether the office was in it or not, we were there. So we were there all the time. Sure, it was what we did. We were the greatest team in the world on crossword puzzles. We'd lurk outside waiting for people to get stumped, 'cause that's a big thing in the industry, people do crossword puzzles. And when they got stumped…well, what one of us doesn't know, the other one does.
Jon: A large part of what we did, the reason why we sat around a lot, was that Glenn, I think, even though other people got lots of credit for writing episodes, he was the guy who rewrote everything and everything was coming down at the last possible second, so lots of times, we would get our call time for the next day, and they would say, "We don't know what's happening tomorrow, just come in at whatever your call time is." And you would get a call sheet and everything on there would be -
Jon: You wouldn't have any script pages listed, because they wouldn't know what the script pages were.
Dan: All they'd write out would be TBA, TBA.
Jon: Yeah, to be determined, to be announced.
Diane: Every single person we've talked to has said the exact same thing. Curtis told us the same thing, Cybill told us the same thing.
Jon: We, as a crew, and honestly, when you spend that much time with people, you always feel like the cliché, about how we become a family. We sat around and we found all kinds of ways to keep ourselves occupied. There was a point at which we were playing quarter toss. They put a piece of masking tape down on the carpet, and there would be like a little box, and people would have a pocket full of quarters, and you had to try and throw quarters. We would play games. Then we would start doing this thing that every day during the baseball season, people who wanted to be part of it would pick three baseball players, and whatever their stats were from the day before would determine whether you won or lost the next day. Because we sat around waiting and waiting and waiting. And a lot of times, they would come out with, not only would you not get the whole scene, you'd get the revision that might be one or two pages of a three or four page scene that they got the first two pages done, and they're rushing the pages out so you can at least get the first two pages done. And they would be hot, because they'd just come out of the copy machine. Remember?
(Dan just laughs)
Diane: So, you've talked about some of the people you met on Moonlighting. Do you intersect with those people now, or have you intersected with those people on other projects you've worked on?
Dan: Curtis and I stay in contact. We go to dinner three or four times a year at least. The rest of the gang? Typically, just if I run into them on the street, now that I'm not in the industry.
Jon: Yeah. I've run into crew members here and there. I've run into Bruce a few times. In fact, I worked on one film with him for a couple days in reshoots. It was that thing that he was playing some cop in Pittsburgh or something...I don't know what it was….I ran into him. He was always nice to me. Every time I saw him, it was, "Hey, big Jon, how ya doin'?"
Dan: Yeah, I've run into him, and it's like it's an old friend he's meeting.
Jon: I ran into Jack Blessing a couple of months ago, not having seen him for years and years.
Dan: I haven't seen him in years. He and his wife invited Curtis and I over for dinner years ago, and that was the last time I saw him.
Jon: He was working on an episode of "That's Life" also, with Paul Sorvino, who I had also rekindled a relationship with, who is a really nice man. Jack was guest starring on that show, and I was working there, being in charge of the extras on that show, and we kind of caught up for a few minutes until I had to go do something, and then he got wrapped, and I got wrapped, and that was the end of that. But you know, that's just the way it is. Eventually, you run into people that you've known...
Dan: A lot of the crew's dead.
Dan: A whole lot of people have died off from that show.
Jon: A lot of the drivers...a few other people. The business is just constantly looking for work. So you're always out of work, looking for other jobs, and every new job is an opportunity to run into somebody you've known.
Dan: Of course, if you've got a real keen eye, and you're a Curtis Armstrong fan, you can watch like, Hi Honey, I'm Dead, and you'll notice at one point there's a caterer working in the background and it's me. And then How I Got Into College, where he's a recruiter for a college, and he has a henchman with him, that's me. And then he did something for Disney, and there's a schoolteacher in it, which is me. He'd usually say, "Oh, can I bring Dan?" So for a long time, he'd call and say, "Wanna come down and do a cameo?"
Jon: That's funny.
Diane: As far as you would like to go, I guess, tell us about what you're doing now.
Dan: Well, as I was telling Jon, I'm involved in a deal to do three movies, to make, produce, three films in Ireland, 'cause I need a free vacation there. Being a FitzPatrick, I have to go home, and I want to make money at it.
Jon: You need an assistant? I could be Irish? I know I'm a New York Jew but I could be Irish.
Dan: We're the lost tribe.
Jon: So was I.
Diane: So, I think I've basically gotten the answer from you, but I'll ask the question…..were or are you actually Moonlighting fans? Dan, you say you actually haven't seen the episodes.
Dan: I've seen some of them. I saw quite a few of them when they were in summer reruns back when they were on. I didn't see them all. I don't have any of them on tape. I haven't seen them since then.
Jon: I however, have seen all of them. I have all of them on tape.
Dan: I'd like to borrow them. "Cause it's not a thing that I didn't want to see them.
Jon: A lot of times, when you work in the business, you don't have the time to actually see the stuff you're working on.
Dan: Most of the time on Tuesday nights, we were still working. And that's why I saw them in summer reruns. If I wasn't doing a show in summer, then I'd watch.
Jon: And thank God for VCRs. Yeah, I'm a big fan. I've watched them several times in rerun. Actually, one of the things I don't like about watching the reruns is that they edit a lot of the stuff out.
Jon: Particularly OUR stuff.
Diane: Somebody should kill BRAVO. They should actually be killed.
Jon: They cut all of our second lines out of Father Knows Last…..when we were yelling "Where's Mr. Addison?" and "Where's the money?" They cut our second lines out...those bastards!
Dan: The money's still coming in though.
Jon: Yeah, I don't care.
Diane: I guess Jon can help you out with those tapes. I have a goodly portion of the originals, but they are not in great shape. I taped them on my first VCR, that I think I bought for $10 a month for like 15 years or something.
Jon: That's funny.
Diane: The show itself, the concept...not what was going on behind the scenes...do you think five years was right? Do you think it could have gone longer?
Jon: Yeah, sure it could have gone longer. It clearly could have gone longer, but clearly in the last year, you know, Bruce and Cybill had budding film careers, and they clearly didn't want to be there. They wanted to move on. And it was too bad. It was at that point...I like the show at that point. I think it was a mistake. I think the mistake that they made was having the two of them get together. I think that Bruce and Cybill, the David and Maddie characters never should have had sex, because I think it totally changed the whole thing, took all the sexual tension away, in the same way that I thought that the Sam and Diane characters on Cheers having sex kind of ruined it for that show also. I just thought it totally changed the whole aspect of the show. And it then became sappy. You know, when she was pregnant, he became a completely different person.
Dan: I didn't like that period.
Jon: It was horrible. Everything became sappy and he was not a sappy guy till then, all of a sudden, he became an awfully sappy, stupid, yuck...it was kinda weird. I think it could have gone along for a lot longer, but they wanted to move on. And the funny thing is that the more that they weren't there, the more they found for us to do.
Dan: Another five more years, it would have been our show.
Diane: That's great. Now, I'm gonna ask you about something that you and I have discussed before, Jon. You told me once that some of the stuff that you used to do was like rent your car to them so they could park it in the underground parking garage when there were scenes there.
Jon: Oh yeah.
Diane: Can you think of any other quirky stuff that the trivia minded part of our group would be interested in? Inside stuff?
Dan: I've got a beauty. In Symphony in Knocked Flat, when they go out for the evening together? When the bad guy is buying tickets from the round faced man behind the glass? After they had shot that, about a week or so later, they decided that they wanted to do an insert shot there - I can't remember, giving him the money, or getting the tickets. Well, those are my hands. Because they shot that on a stage. They built this little change thing and a piece of glass. And they're just doing a close up on it. Frequently, when you think you're seeing this person it's one of us.
Jon: In the John Goodman episode, when you see him putting the earring down on the desk, that's my hand.
Dan: There's no sense in having the star hanging around. This takes a long time to set up, even for that little shot.
Jon: And you're not going to see him, so, yeah, frequently they would have us do that. Our cars appeared in lots of episodes...every time they were in a parking garage. This meant extra money for us. They would give us all extra money. That's a common practice with extras also. They call it a "car call". You show up, bring your car with you just so it will be used in picture, and every time they were in the parking structure, and there were lots of driving episodes.
Dan: There was one where Cybill...I don't think Jon was there, they brought me in ...I got to do some stunt work on it...Chris Howell brought me in. Where Maddie was going to commit suicide by driving into a wall or something. I worked thirty-two hours straight on that one. They said...c'mon in. It was a night shoot...I think I had to drive my car in high speed, in reverse to get the shot to work. I had been trained for stunts like that.
Jon: That was It's a Wonderful Job.
Diane: That's right, It's a Wonderful Job -- that's my favorite episode.
Dan: Oh God, I hate that show.
Diane: You hate that one?
Dan: Yeah, because it's the one that every show in the world has done. Well, they said that it would only take a little while. The call was like seven o'clock in the evening, a night shoot, you'll be out of there by nine-thirty or ten. Leigh Webb was also tossing me a bone...to get that job in. And then I had a daytime call to be part of the office staff the next morning. We shot all night long, and finally it got down to "You've gotta get out of here right now, you have just enough time to get to the studio." To work in the office.
Jon: Yeah, we were slapping him all day - wake up!
Dan: I made a fortune that night, and how the IRS looks at it is, well, if you made that that day, that's how much you make every day. So suddenly, I was making two, three million dollars a year according to them.
Dan: Although what the taxes brought it down to I should have been home in bed.
Diane: Funny. OK, do you collect or own any souvenirs or mementos from your Moonlighting days?
Dan: I've still got my jackets.
Jon: I've still got my jackets. I've got a lot of the old scripts still. I have some of the dashboard placards that they used to put on the dashboards of the trucks.
Dan: I used to have that stuff too, I wonder what happened to it.
Jon: Well, you moved. Took stuff in and out of storage.
Dan: Yeah, I've moved a few times.
Jon: That's pretty much all that was there, cause we never really got anything else.
Dan: A sweat suit...I think that wore out.
Jon: It never fit me.
Diane: OK...media attention around the set -- what was that like?
Dan: There wasn't much close up. They didn't allow it.
Jon: Yeah, it was very protected.
Dan: In fact, it was such a closed set, at Christmas time, it was Christmas holiday time, and all of a sudden, the cast of LA Law charged in and sang us a Christmas carol, and as they were leaving, they go, "We busted Moonlighting", cause nobody got on that set.
Jon: Bruce always spotted an unfamiliar face. He would always go over and say, "Who's that guy over there?" Because, it was at that time, that he was still trying to be a regular guy, and was becoming very well known...and more and more, every time he would do something, it would get written up in some rag magazine, and so...but yet, he still tried to maintain his regular life, and my whole thing was, I always say, you know what? You get to a point that you become so famous, you can't go to the 7-11 when you run out of milk. Somebody has to do it for you, because someone will see you and you know, you look awful, and it gets in the paper somehow. I remember lots of times, somebody would come visit, and they would have reason to be there, but he didn't know who it was, and he would go over and ask one of the A.D.s, "Who's that over there? Who's this guy?" Because he got burned...he got burned a lot of times. Bad publicity.
Diane: Did it seem to have come from there?
Jon: Oh, stuff that was totally fabricated. There was a thing in the Enquirer, there were some photos
Dan: With the ring?
Jon: Yeah, with a wedding and a ring, or something like that, and it clearly wasn't them, but they had two photo doubles, that looked like Bruce and, I think it was supposed to be Cybill, or somebody.
Dan: I think it was Cybill.
Jon: And they had a BMW, and it was black and white photographs, but you could tell the BMW wasn't even the same color. It was clearly completely a fabricated story, and Bruce was looking at it, and we were looking at it, and there was a bad angle to it. And I remember, I said, " Bruce, what do you tell people?" And he said, "You know, the people who know you, your family -- they know it's not true. But still, sometimes it's very tough, to look at stuff that is hurtful, even though you know it's not true, and the people who know you know it's not true. Sometimes when you see it in print, it's sometimes very hurtful." But we used to see stories like that all the time.
Dan: The other part of the over celebrity was when we were down by CC Brown's - they did a thing on a soda shop down on Hollywood Boulevard, right by the Chinese Theatre. At this point, the show was really on top, and we were shooting at night on Hollywood Boulevard, I think it was a Friday night. There were ten million people there who wanted to get just anywhere near Bruce. So, we had a lot of cops there. I remember, there was one huge cop, and a woman came up, she was trying to get to Bruce, and the cop said, "I'm sorry, you have to stay back here." And she punched him. Punched the cop.
Dan: Lucky for her, the cop started laughing and the woman's husband dragged her back to Ioway immediately. Got her out of there. She became ruthless. It just got insane.
Jon: There were some interesting things. I remember, there was an episode in which Bruce appears with a headband that says McMahon on it. The background of that is that was at the time that Jim McMahon was the quarterback for the Chicago Bears, and they were getting a lot of publicity. He was coming to the set to visit, I don't know if he and Bruce were friends
Dan: They were.
Jon: ...or if he just wanted to come and say hello, but it was at the same time that he had gotten a lot of flak over wearing his headband with a logo on it. So I think he put one on that said McMahon on it, and when he came to visit, we were all given headbands that said McMahon on them, and when he walked on the stage, he must have seen fifty people wearing McMahon headbands. That was the day that he came by, and Bruce was still wearing that. Funny, probably nobody has any idea why he was wearing that except the people who were there.
Diane: Actually, I've heard it discussed, and they know who, but they don't know why.
Jon: That was exactly it. Because he was coming, and he had gotten a lot of grief for wearing his own McMahon headband, so we figured we'd make him feel at home…..he'd walk in and everyone would have the headband.
Diane: This question is for Dan, and it is specifically at Curtis's request. Curtis told us to ask you about you "outing" the National Enquirer mole.
Dan: You know, I barely remember that.
Jon: Actually, it was all of us. I forget what her name was, but we were doing the Atomic Shakespeare episode, her name was Linda something. I had known her as an extra, but she showed up, apparently to get some dirt on the cast. And she was offering us, sort of like clandestinely offering us money for good stories.
Dan: She didn't offer it to me, or I would have told her such a story about Curtis...
Dan: We could have split it. I'm sure the money would have been good.
Jon: So anyway, we all realized it was too good a job to risk losing it over this nonsense, so somebody, and I'm not sure who it was, walked up behind her and put a sign on her back that said, "I'm a reporter for the National Enquirer - don't talk to me", or something like that. And she walked away, never knowing it was there. I think that was the last we ever saw of her, she never came back.
Dan: Yeah, that was the end of that woman.
Jon: Yeah, that was belling the cat. I didn't mean to answer his question.
Diane: That's all right.
Dan: That's why I like to have him around.
Diane: I think we've already answered the next question...Dan, your real detective background, did it have anything whatsoever to contribute...?
Jon: Yeah, it came in real handy.
Diane: Now this one is for you, Jon, but you can actually both answer it. What kind of big changes did working on Moonlighting make in your life?
Jon: Well, it was nice to get a little notoriety. There were times when we would go on a location somewhere, just working, even just as our stand-ins, and people would actually recognize us. People would actually come up to us and say, "Hey, it's those guys." And I think that once...
Dan: That was your wife, though.
Jon: But it led to the point where we were actually - when you work as an extra, you don't normally get treated very nicely, and we started getting treated like we were actors, and it really felt so good, it really felt good after a while.
Dan: It was a nice job.
Jon: It was a good job. And there were situations in which we could have pressed them for more money and more this and more that but yet…..
Dan: We were damned happy.
Jon: We had a nice job that lasted us five days a week for the most part, ten months out of the year for almost five years. Who wanted to walk away from that? There was a thing with the Screen Extras Guild, they were picketing our show for a while, and they kept saying to us, "Don't you guys want to make more money?" And we said, "Yeah, but if we say we want more money, they're gonna get rid of us and get new people, and we like the job." And shortly after, the Screen Extras Guild disappeared.
Dan: Not until I was working on Homefront, and they made me join. Cost me several hundred dollars. Then they went belly up within a week or two.
Jon: Good timing. There is an interesting story about how we became Jergenson and O'Neill, because there was a real concerted effort to not give us names.
Diane: Actually, I've observed, in the beginning, you had different names at different points. If you really watch the episodes, they call different people different names.
Dan: In our case?
Diane: Umm hmm.
Dan: I don't recall that.
Jon: That's possible. But I do know the first time they ever called us by name...they referred to the two guys as Jergenson and O'Neill, and it was My Fair David...
Diane: When you were going to get fired.
Jon: She kept saying, "You're gonna have to fire Jergenson and O'Neill."
Dan: That's why they wanted that "stunned mullet" look. I forgot about that.
Jon: That's just what it was.
Dan: Cause he had to tell these two idiots that they were out of work, without saying the words, and we were too stupid to understand what he was talking about. That's why they were looking at my face as I was leaning against the wall, going "That jackass is perfect."
Jon: So we were sitting at the desks, and they referred to us as Jergenson and O'Neill, and we figured, that since he was Irish, he might as well be O'Neill. So we were the ones who decided which one was which. And the funny thing was, they never really identified us, they referred to us as Jergenson and O'Neill - there was a Simmons, and we decided that Willie Brown was Simmons.
Dan: I don't think it was ever specifically addressed. That was a name that was just floating around. For a while we thought it was the guy with the glasses. And then he left, and then Doug Benson came in.
Jon: But we sort of decided that for ourselves. We became Jergenson and O'Neill, without them actually really caring.
Dan: But the writers seemed to want to, because remember, Reno and Osborn, they were always wanting to write stuff for us. They liked Jon and I.
Jon: But we could never figure out which one of them was which.
Dan: Yeah, I think they're interchangeable too. They had the names Reno and Osborn and they decided among themselves which one was Reno and which one was Osborn.
Jon: Never could figure out which one was Reno and which one was Osborn, cause you always saw them together...Hey, Reno and Osborn! Hey, O'Neill and Jergenson!
Dan: They wrote the best scripts, and they liked us so they wanted to give us stuff.
Jon: They did Atomic Shakespeare and a lot of the other stuff too. They were really bright guys.
Dan: When you saw it was a Reno and Osborn script coming down, you knew you were going to laugh reading it.
Jon: Yeah, very bright stuff. They did some of the better stuff. There were a lot of very bright people attached to that show.
Dan: Well, Reno and Osborn would always say, "Hey we wrote something really different for you." And then it would have to be taken out, cause there once again...
Jon: They were afraid to let us talk, cause then they would have to get rid of us.
Diane: OK, I have to ask this question for a large group of fans out there...what is your opinion on a reunion?
Jon: Sure, let's do it. My fear is that a reunion, if it ever happens, would just include the big people and that the producers of the show are gonna think that the people in the office may not be significant enough that they would even have to worry about it. But if they want us back, and that happens, I'm there. Fine, sure I'm there.
Dan: I would do it for the yucks.
Jon: Yeah, I think it would be hysterical. You know, we would get to see some people who we hadn't seen in a long time, who we spent an awful lot of time with. We'd like to see an updated situation. Yeah, I would do it, definitely.
Dan: I would probably want somebody younger than me to play me.
Jon: Yeah, that's right. Who can I get to play me? Mel Gibson could do me.
Diane: So what did I miss asking you that you want to tell the world? Or the very small part of the world that we reach.
Dan: Whoever was the guest star, they had it covered.
Jon: Somebody could stand in for it. I stood in for a black Santa Claus, you stood in for the dog one time. You were Freeway the dog.
Dan: Yep. Remember that one? Pat Boone leans forward to pet the dog, the dog is off camera. I was down there sitting on the floor. He reached out to me and I licked his hand. He started laughing and they got really mad at me cause he kept laughing for about ten minutes, and you know that wait - time is money, and he would look at me, and he would start laughing, and...I got in trouble for that.
Jon: The when they did the scene from Hart to Hart, and I stood in for Lionel Standard, and you were also the dog in that one. He was Freeway the dog in that one too.
Dan: Dog seemed to be my monster. Of course, if you watch the movie Out Cold, I'm also photographed as Terri Garr, and once I was Telly Savalas too.
Dan: Here's another story. It reminded me...it was John Goodman, Bruce [Willis], Bruce McGill - I can't remember who else was in there. But they were old friends from New York. They all had the same nickname - Bruno - all the old gang was Bruno to each other. I like - Bruce McGill has a story. He said, "I can remember us sitting in a bar in New York, and I said, all I want was to be a working actor, and to have the respect of my fellow actors, and I think I've achieved that." And he has. So Bruce Willis that day said, "I want to be a superstar and have all the money in the world." And Bruce McGill goes "Why the hell didn't I say that?"
Diane: That's a great story.
Jon: Bruce McGill is, by the way, D-Day from Animal House.
Dan: Great actor, I doubled him.
Jon: We stood in for lots of great people, all the guest stars. Mark Harmon, I stood in for him when he was on. I know that ruffles a lot of feathers on the Moonlighting list, people either love him or they hate him, but I have got to tell you, as a person, Mark Harmon, you couldn't ask for a nicer guy, just a regular nice guy. He was there for what, four episodes I guess, and the whole time he was there, we had lunch together every day, we sat around, and that was the time that Dennis Dugan was around. I think they crossed paths for a little bit.
Dan: They're still friends to this day.
Jon: Mark was just a genuinely nice guy. That was one of the nicest things about him, he was just a regular guy...we sat around and talked about cars, and sports, and girls. And Dennis Dugan, you know he was Walter Bishop, and ended up directing several episodes after that, was also a terrific guy. It was just a very nice time. A nice experience, you know. A nice experience. Who's that guy? The guy who played Annie's husband? James somebody. He kind of got caught up in the fact that Bruce and Cybill didn't want to be there anymore in those last couple of episodes, and they were making his life really miserable by being confusing, and he had this look of bewilderment on his face the entire time.
Diane: Tell me this, I know you've told me this before, and I consistently lose this in my head. Who was cast to play Annie before Virginia Madsen?
Jon: Roxanne Hall? Roxanne Hart? Reddish hair. She was there at first, and I guess they just didn't think there was any chemistry there between her and Bruce. Virginia Madsen came in after that. All of a sudden, Roxanne was gone. It was Roxanne Hart, I think. That was kind of a surprise, all of a sudden she was gone. I gotta tell you, some of the female casting was kind of odd. When they did the episode, The Bride of Tupperman, where we were supposed to be all gaga about this woman who came in…..I mean, I don't know. I mean we acted like she was great, she was a nice lady, but she just wasn't the kind of woman that we were all going to go jumping over desks, and pushing each other to the ground to get to, to light her cigarette. I don't know, that was kind of weird.
Diane: I have one more question to ask both of you. Do you remember knowing, hearing about the cancellation of the show? When it was?
Dan: We knew it was coming. Craft Services.
Jon: I think it wasn't really official, but we sort of knew it. I think we knew it pretty much that whole entire last season that we were there.
Dan: But we really knew it from Craft Services, remember?
Jon: When there was no more Craft Service.
Diane: No doughnuts, huh?
Dan: Well, we used to have some of the finest spreads in the world, cause we were there all the time. They budgeted to us well, they treated us terrifically. And then it started shrinking, and shrinking, and shrinking, and finally we went in one day, and our Craft Service man had put out a picture of wonderful food.
Jon: A picture of food, yeah. This is what you would have if they hadn't taken my complete budget away from me.
Diane: That's funny. But you don't have a recollection as to exactly when the word came down?
Jon: Honestly, I seem to recall that we knew it.
Diane: I mean, you had to be shooting several episodes knowing the show was cancelled, or about to be cancelled.
Jon: Honestly, I think we knew it.
Dan: It was in the air.
Jon: I mean, I think we knew it. I seem to recall that we knew it. In fact, they kept joking...I think Bruce and Cybill kept joking about pulling the plug - let's pull the plug already, pull the plug. I think they were even annoyed that we were doing as many episodes as we ended up doing that last final season.
Dan: It got so down that that was when we started having the special days - today is this day or that day, all kinds of goofy stuff.
Diane: So there were more "days" than Curtis days?
Dan: The Curtis Armstrong week was the culmination of all this silly stuff.
Jon: Certainly, they had the big parade. I have that on tape. I have the whole thing.
Dan: My mother's got my copy of that.
Jon: Randy Bowers -- the guy who was Bruce's stand-in for the last couple of years, did this thing about the Curtis show, or Curtis episode, or...
Dan: It was "Do you know who Curtis Armstrong is?"
Jon: Yes. And so he gave these tapes. He made a lot of these tapes, which included the big parade, and all that stuff.
Dan: He did his hair down in grease, and put a stupid look on his face, and some oversized glasses, and he went down to the Chinese theatre and waited for some tourists to come by, and then he did this exaggerated accent, and said, "It's Curtis Armstrong week. Are you here to celebrate that? You know who Curtis Armstrong is, right?" And these people just looked at him...the one guy got it -- oh, Booger!
Jon: They used to do that to us all the time at Disneyland. We'd be standing in line, and this little kid would come up to us and say, "Hey, it's Booger."
Dan: Curtis and I were on a double date years ago. His now wife was driving. My date and I were in the back, and he and I were both on the passenger side. We're on Sunset Boulevard, stopped at a traffic light. A car pulls up next to us with two very attractive obviously college girls, and they looked over, and they looked back, and both of them stuck a finger up their noses. And Curtis looked over at Elaine and said, "Honey, would you mind pulling over? I think they're my fans."
Jon: There was that one time, we were actually leaving Disneyland, and some guy actually jumped on him. You grabbed him and threw him like twenty feet. He wanted to be with Curtis...he wanted to be with Booger.
Dan: His fans are very young and very exuberant. One of my best friends now is John Mahoney. His fans expect him to have the cane and the dog, so they aren't going to jump on him. They come up very nicely...can you sign for me...blah, blah, blah.
Jon: Good old Curtis.
Diane: Were there specific cast members or guest stars you were fond of?
Dan: Curtis, of course. And we had a great time with Imogene Coca. She was this frail, little woman, but did she ever come to life when the camera was on. After the show, we were all going out for drinks, and we asked her if she wanted to come. She asked if she could get a Greyhound [Dan has informed us that is a vodka and grapefruit juice] there, and when we assured her she probably could, there she was, right along with us. I also liked Eva Marie Saint.
Jon: I like Robert Webber, who played Maddie's father.
Diane: Well, I have really had a great time this afternoon, and I appreciate you taking the time to speak to me. I'd like to say thanks on behalf of all the Moonlighting fans out there, who still literally watch you every day.
Dan: I just thought of one more story...insider stuff. I remember going to work one day for an early call, on stage 11. Wasn't that it...Maddie's house was stage 11?
Jon: Yeah, Bruce's...David's apartment was stage 10, Cybill's house was 11.
Dan: Well, I got there early, and there was this great big guy from the crew sitting there. So I said hi, and walked away to get some breakfast or something, and when I came back, there he was, still sitting there. When I asked him why he was still sitting there, he said, "I'm not going in there by myself. That place's haunted." Evidently, someone had committed suicide there a few years before and this guy was convinced. So I came, and we went in there together, but he wasn't going into that haunted stage himself.
Jon: Yeah, I remember that.
Diane: Another great story. Thanks again so much for your time.
Dan: Hey, anytime I can get Jon to buy me lunch.
Diane: Well, thanks so much for lunch, and the conversation. We'll be posting this soon on DavidandMaddie.com for all your fans to see.
This is not meant to violate or infringe on any copyrights.