Monkee Business

The director of TV's Boy Meets World and Pacific Blue is excited about his new film. He's just finished Contempt starring Stephanie Zimbalist of Remington Steele and Gabrielle Carteris of Beverly Hills 90210. Another movie is already in the works, but the 30-year directing career has been put on hold for a few months while Mickey Dolenz does his side project: singer and drummer for a band called the Monkees.

"Directing is my day job," he says. "[The Monkees] is something that's always with me. I love it, and I'm very proud of it, but the Monkees is not a band. It's a TV show about a band that didn't exist. When we go on the road, though, this imaginary band comes alive."

The creators of this ersatz pop group were producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider. Inspired by A Hard Day's Night, the pair set out to create a TV show that would combine a teen-friendly pop group with zany, madcap antics. After extensive casting calls, they settled on the lineup of Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith -- whose aping of the Beatles was so transparent, the group came to be known as the Prefab Four. Their run of hit records and headlining tours lasted only from 1966 to 1968, but recent baby boomer nostalgia has revived the pseudogroup. While Nesmith has avoided the reunion tours, the other three are featured when the Monkees kick off their tour in Clearwater, making a stop Saturday at the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre.

That show features all the great Monkees hits, including "I'm a Believer," "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," "Last Train to Clarksville," and the dozen others that made a splash. "If you're coming expecting to hear all the hits, you will," Dolenz says.

Still, there might be a few surprises in store as well. Dolenz made a vague threat to bust out with Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" in honor of the man who opened for them on one summer tour. Dolenz remembers him as a shy but friendly sort.

"He had no idea what he was in for," he says.

Since the Monkees were put together by producers and are now touring under the auspices of promoter and boy-band creator Lou Pearlman, the parallels are obvious. But Dolenz rebuffs such commentary, saying that the boy bands of today are made of different stuff.

"The Monkees has a different pedigree," he says. "Groups like the Backstreet Boys and 'NSync aren't bands, they're vocal groups in the tradition of Motown groups that danced and sang. That's the DNA."

Still, at the very least, the Monkees of the 1960s and the boy bands of today share a common link or two, not the least of which is the sheer adoration of fans. According to Dolenz, that adoration remains stable in South Florida.

"There's always been a strong Monkee following here," he says, clearing his throat before adding, "There's no accounting for taste."