Cheers actor Kelsey Grammar reflected on the longevity of the series and why he felt it resonated with audiences.
“I realized it when we were doing Cheers that we had something great there,” said Grammer in an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show. “What’s funny is, Shelley Long decided she was going to leave the show on the fifth season. So once that was done, I thought to myself ‘wow, that’s really weird. This show is really popular, really successful, and they’ve brought this new girl in, Kirstie Alley. And I thought ‘this has the potential to be one of the greatest shows ever now because midstream if you can’t tell where it’s going, and we could go forever. They did 11 seasons.”
For Grammer, Cheers evolved into “this fantastic, fantastic show.” He felt that adding Alley to the series gave it the “creative jolt” it needed to make it “another show, a new show.” The Frasier star was right; very few shows survive losing their lead actor, but Cheers remained successful for years after Long left.
Additionally, the series won an impressive 28 Emmys, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1983, 1984, 1989, and 1991. Its success spawned the spinoff Frasier, centered, of course, on Grammer’s neurotic psychiatrist. Its success eclipsed that of its predecessor, running for the same number of seasons and winning 37 Primetime Emmys.
The Cheers Spinoff Almost Never Happened.
Grammer did, however, reveal that Frasier almost didn’t happen.
“I wanted to kill Frasier,” Grammer revealed in an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show. “It’s time for him to end. Cheers is over. Let’s do something else. Because I had a deal with Paramount that they said ‘we’re gonna do another show when Cheers is over, with you.’ So I approached the guys from Wings, and that was Angel Casey and Lee David. Angel, you know, died on 9/11. We talked about doing a show about a guy on a motorcycle, ’cause I used to ride a motorcycle, and they thought ‘let’s take something from real life,’ who’s bedridden because of a terrible accident. That was not part of real life… The president of Paramount at the time, John Pike, said ‘this is not funny. You know what? I think a sitcom should be funny, so what do you say we do Frasier?’ And I said ‘well, okay.’”
Grammer had only three ground rules: “no kids, no dogs, no wives.” Of course, he folded on the dog, a decision that paid off as Eddie became one of the most popular characters on the series, which, given the popularity of Frasier, is no small statement. Ultimately, Grammer sticking with Frasier was the right call. That is, if winning four Primetime Emmys is sign of success for an actor.