Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis did not get along during production. Willis' success with Die Hard (1988) further strained their relationship. Willis became a major film star, and bristled at being the second-billed actor on a TV series. He also resented Shepherd, blaming her for many of the shooting delays.
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The third season became notorious for repeated delays and a large number of "filler" episodes that ignored the primary story arc, including: a Christmas story, a retrospective show, a Shakespeare spoof, and an episode focused on Miss DiPesto. The scheduling problems happened because Bruce Willis broke his shoulder skiing, and Cybill Shepherd was pregnant with twins. One episode starts with a mock newsreel announcing the behind-the-scenes problems.
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Bruce Willis made Die Hard (1988) while starring in this show. By the time the series ended, the movie was available on VHS. In one of the last episodes, Willis and a love interest walk past a video rental store while an employee tears a "Die Hard" poster down from the window.
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Bruce Willis was the very last of about 3,000 actors to audition for the role of David Addison, Jr.
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Glenn Gordon Caron was hired away from Remington Steele (1982), another series about a pair of bickering detectives, to create and produce this show. He left after the third season due to the chaotic production and disagreements with Cybill Shepherd.
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Many episodes included a shot of Maddie's feet stepping off of the elevator and walking to her office. Glenn Gordon Caron admitted that the shots existed to give him time to complete the script. Scripts were constantly re-written, and shooting often began without a completed script. Caron would continue writing while shots of Maddie's feet were set up and filmed.
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Cybill Shepherd was often shot with diffusion disks so she would look as leading ladies often did in films of the 1940s.
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Because of the trademark scenes in which two or more characters are talking at length simultaneously, the scripts were typically two to three times as long as a script for a similar hour-long drama.
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Episodes were shot in 12 to 14 days, much longer than the usual 7 days for an hour-long series. Dialogue was often written only hours before shooting. Scenes were sometimes filmed days before airing. Because of the delays, the series never reached the usual 26 episodes per season. Only 66 episodes were produced from 1985-89.
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At various times throughout the series, actors would looked directly into the camera and talk to the audience. The dialogue mentioned the producers, director, writers, and/or script. In the season 2 finale, the characters left the set and ran around the studio.
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Episodes were delayed so many times that one promotional spot featured an actor, playing a network employee, waiting for the next episode to be delivered.
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The most expensive series on TV at the time, with an average cost of $1.6 million per episode. ABC was willing to spend the money because the network owned the show, making more profit than if the series was owned by a separate production company.
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ABC and Cybill Shepherd originally wanted Harley Venton to play David Addison Jr., but creator and writer, Glenn Gordon Caron, rejected him for then-unknown Bruce Willis Both screen tests, with Mary-Margaret Humes playing Maddie Hayes, were filmed September 7, 1984. Both screen tests are included at the end of the pilot DVD.
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The role of Maddie was written specifically for Cybill Shepherd. Shepherd suggested that the cast and producers watch His Girl Friday (1940) and Bringing Up Baby (1938) to prepare for the pilot.
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David mentions a McGillicuddy in the second episode of the series. The recurring character McGillicuddy first appeared in the third season.
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Both Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd are notoriously difficult to work with.
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Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell was named for the character of David Addison Jr. The award-winning baseball player's mom was a big Moonlighting fan.
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This is always being compared to Remington Steele. Same creators; same genre; similar type shows both in the 1980s. But whereas this is remembered as one of the best shows of the 80s; Remington Steele is mostly remembered for introducing us to Pierce Brosnan.
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If you were to look up the term "Miserable TV Set" in the Hollywood dictionary, odds are good that Moonlighting would pictured next to the definition. The '80s dramedy, starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis, was fraught with tension from day one and lasted until the very end of the show's fifth and final season, according to a 1989 article in People. Among the causes: Willis' blossoming film career, catalyzed by 1988's Die Hard; and Shepherd's pregnancy in 1987 that caused the production schedule to fall out of place. "Willis ... suddenly cared a lot 'about not working, about getting out of work, leaving work early,'" a source told People at the time. Willis also threw a loud, violent tantrum on set after the production schedule "threatened to cut into a planned afternoon getaway."
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Robert Blake and Rick Dees were considered for the role of David Addison, Jr. Voice actor and stand-up comedian Maurice LaMarche got three callbacks, but was eliminated before the screen-test phase.
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Feminist historian Susan Faludi's famous book "Backlash"; which described how achievements in the women's liberation movement of the 70s were eroded in the misogynistic 80s; devoted a whole chapter to the Mark Harmon love-triangle story arc; which was the cliffhanger episode in the penultimate season the show. In the final scene of this sequence; David and Maddie have been confronting eachother and fighting, when David suddenly and finally makes his movie on Maddie. She slaps him; then she slaps him again; then David overpowers her and the two embrace passionately. Faludi criticized the scene as glamorizing rape; sending the message that the way to deal with situations like this is for the man to overpower the woman; and that the woman will actually enjoy it when this happens.
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ABC was casting two big new series at the beginning of 1985 back to back; Moonlighting and Growing Pains; that were about to be added to their fall schedule. Willis was up for the male lead in both series. (David Addison on Moonlighting and Dr. Jason Seaver on Growing Pains. ) Luckily, Alan Thicke beat out Willis for the Seaver role on Growing Pains, and the rest is TV history. (It would be hard to see Thicke playing the David Addison role!).
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This was the first big detective series Mark Harmon would star in; the next one would be NCIS.
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Comedian Doug Benson appears numerous times in this show as a "regular extra" (one who has no lines or character name, but appears in the background of the same set in multiple episodes). He was an office worker at Blue Moon Detective Agency for several episodes throughout the series.
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Indian TV serial One Plus One (1997) was a unofficial remake of Moonlighting.
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Even is unfair to say that this ruined the series, Chris Carter, The X Files creator, always referenced 'The Moonlighting syndrome' as how you will destroy an excellent series by doing that the stars have a romance. This idea finished in the most exaggerated unresolved sexual tension ever in a series in the case of Mulder and Scully, that didn't consummated their relationship until at least maybe season 6th or 7th and didn't kiss properly on screen until the last episode of 8th. According to him everything was wrong since David and Maddie slept together and he never wanted to happen that to Scully and Mulder.
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Due to a long lasting writers strike, season 5 did not begin filming until October 4, 1988.
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