‘Frasier’ Star Kelsey Grammer Didn’t Want to Initially Do Spin-Off

by Allison Hambrick
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 20: Kelsey Grammer speaks onstage at the #IMDboat at San Diego Comic-Con 2019: Day Three at the IMDb Yacht on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for IMDb)

Despite the eventual success of the series, Frasier star Kelsey Grammar wasn’t game for the Cheers spinoff at first.

“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.'”

According to Grammer, he had only a few stipulations to play Frasier Crane again. The show would be made, but it had to be on his terms.

“I did say at the time: no kids, no dogs, no wives,” Grammer explained. “So we got rid of Lilith, not because it wasn’t possible to do that show, but didn’t seem to have the legs that you’d need to get further along. I thought we were kind of a one joke couple. Bebe [Neuwirth] came back and did a couple of shows for us, but that was the right stuff. The dog, I lost on. The kid, I lost on. It’s okay.”

Grammer’s instincts were right on the money. Frasier lasted 11 seasons from 1993 to 2004, as long as Cheers. The series was incredibly well-received by critics and audiences. It won 37 Primetime Emmy Awards, nine more than its parent series. Grammer himself won four.

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Interestingly, Grammer joining Cheers only happened because a fellow Juilliard graduate vouched for him.

“I was doing a play in New York City, a musical, and I went to lunch with a girl named Gretchen Rennell, who was casting director for Paramount Pictures,” Grammer revealed. “And she said, ‘Mandy Patinkin told me that you’re a funny leading man type.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I guess he’s right about that.’”

Both Patinkin and Grammer attended Juilliard in the 1970s. Among their classmates were Kevin Conroy, Robin Williams, and Christopher Reeve. While Grammer ultimately never graduated, he made lifelong friendships there. Friendships that he owes his success to.

“[I went in] and did a personality piece, which is basically where you go on video and talk about ten things that you like or whatever,” Grammer remembered. “And so they did this with me for this character called Frasier Nye. I thought Frasier Nye was the wrong name so they ended up making him ‘Crane’ after that.”

The rest was history. The writers shaped Frasier Crane around Grammer’s strengths, and he became an iconic figure in American television history.