He had tried selling it to Revue, the television division of Universal Pictures.In May 1964, while working at Screen Gems, Rafelson teamed up with Bert Schneider, whose father, Abraham Schneider, headed the Colpix Television and Screen Gems Television units of Columbia Pictures.
On September 8–10, 1965, Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter ran an ad to cast the remainder of the band/cast members for the TV show: Madness!! Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series. Tork, the last to be chosen, had been working the Greenwich Village scene as a musician, and had shared the stage with Pete Seeger; he learned of The Monkees from Stephen Stills, whom Rafelson and Schneider had rejected as a songwriter.
Dolenz was an actor (his father was veteran character actor George Dolenz) who had starred in the TV series Circus Boy as a child, using the stage name Mickey Braddock, and he had also played guitar and sung in a band called the Missing Links before the Monkees, which had recorded and released a very minor single, "Don't Do It".
As "The Raybert Producers", they sold the show to Screen Gems Television on April 16, 1965.
Rafelson and Schneider's original idea was to cast an existing New York folk rock group, the Lovin' Spoonful, who were not widely known at the time.
He was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 1963. Nesmith had been working as a musician since early 1963 and had been recording and releasing music under various names, including Michael Blessing and "Mike & John & Bill" and had studied drama in college.
Rafelson and Schneider already had him in mind for their project after their plans for the Lovin' Spoonful fell through; when they chose him, he was essentially a proto-star looking for his lucky break. Of the final four, Nesmith was the only one who actually saw the ad in Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
Jones had previously starred as the Artful Dodger in the Broadway theatre show Oliver!
, which debuted on December 17, 1962, and his performance was later seen on The Ed Sullivan Show the same night as the Beatles' first appearance on that show, February 9, 1964. Out of 437 applicants, the other three chosen for the cast of the TV show were Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz.
Nonetheless, Nesmith did compose and produce some songs from the beginning, and Peter Tork contributed limited guitar work on the sessions produced by Nesmith.