Prince's appearance on a 2014 episode of New Girl was one of those wonderfully WTF pop culture moments that only come around once a millennium, it seems, but if you've ever wondered how the Fox sitcom managed to snag the elusive Purple One for the episode, you are definitely not alone. Fortunately, show creator Liz Meriwether has opened up about the experience, explaining how it all went down for Vulture.
In her story, Meriwether recants how she went into a near-panic when Prince's rep connected them on a phone call, and that sense of bewildered "How is this happening" anxiety never really went away during the entire process.
Meriwether, who got connected to Prince by meeting his manager at a party, talked about how they lost an opportunity have Prince on the show in the previous season, but he came back around for season three, when Fox asked the team to put together a Super Bowl episode. For a time, they feared he was going to back out of the whole thing.
Instead, Prince asked for changes to the script. "I knew exactly what had happened: The network had asked us to end the episode at the loft, the home base of the show, instead of at Prince's house, and I had changed the story to have Nick and Jess say, "I love you" back in their bathroom, away from Prince and his influence. It was a dumb call." But, Meriwether realized, "Talking to Prince, it was obvious: He had to be the catalyst of Jess's emotional breakthrough. That was the reason for the episode."
Eventually, Prince made it to filming, but his influence wasn't limited to the moments between "action" and "cut."
"Right before we were about to shoot him performing his new song in the episode, he asked my producer for a megaphone," Meriwether said. "Right before the first notes, he pulled out the megaphone and called out: 'Does anyone want to fall in love tonight?' Everyone cheered. We hadn't asked them to. It was just a feeling. You just had to shout out"
Prince even came up with something funnier than what the team had written. As scripted, Zooey was intended to be in a dark closet, with Prince surprising her by turning on a flashlight under his chin.
"Prince was standing on the balcony, beckoning to me," she said. "I walked up the stairs and followed him into a bathroom. He turned out the lights. Then he flicked a lighter on underneath his chin.
He said to her, "Isn't this funnier?"
What a guy.
Fox will re-broadcast the episode tonight at 9:30/8:30c in honor of the legendary singer.