HomeAmerican EntertainmentTV‘Frasier’: How the Crew Kept Shelley Long’s Cameo a Secret from NBC

‘Frasier’: How the Crew Kept Shelley Long’s Cameo a Secret from NBC

by Megan Molseed
(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

When the hit classic television sitcom Cheers went off the air in the early 1990s, fans of the series were pleased to know they didn’t have to completely say goodbye to their favorite characters. This, of course, was because the show’s spin-off series, Frasier, wasn’t far behind the Cheers finale.

And, thanks to some great planning, Frasier watchers are treated regularly to quite a few nods to their favorite bar-room comedy. This, of course, is because some of our favorite Cheers players regularly made some impressive cameos on the popular NBC spin-off series.

And, among these memorable Frasier cameos is that of Shelley Long; the actress who portrays the often haughty waitress Diane Chambers in the original series. Diane Chambers is also the former fiance of Kelsey Grammer’s character, Frasier Crane, the titular character in the spin-off program.

Additionally, part of what makes Shelley Long’s cameo on the series so impressive is the fact that Frasier showrunners were able to hide Long’s appearance from the network. Effectively surprising everyone with the hilarious guest appearance.

How Did Frasier Manage To Keep Shelley Long’s Cameo Appearance Underwraps?

Frasier premiered in 1993. The hit series follows former Cheers player, Kelsey Grammer’s Frasier Crane as he moves from Boston to Seattle to be closer to his family.

Grammer’s psychiatrist character first appeared on Cheers; not long after the series premiered. And, fans were happy to follow his adventures in Seattle. A spin-off series at the start, Frasier managed to hold its own outside of its predecessor’s shadow. However, this did not stop showrunners from bringing back some familiar faces. The first of which is Shelley Long’s Diane Chambers.

Frasier Writers Work Hard To ‘Preserve the Surprise’ Of Long’s Cameo

In the episode Adventures in Paradise, Kelsey Grammer’s Frasier takes a romantic trip to Bora Bora with his girlfriend. While there, he encounters his ex-wife, Bebe Neuwirth’s Lillith. Of course, this awkward encounter creates some hilarious situations in the episode. However, the hilarity is not yet over…nor are the surprises.

As the episode comes to an end, Frasier has a dream sequence in which he encounters Long’s Diane Chambers in the same manner. This appearance certainly surprises Frasier. However, thanks to some careful planning, the audiences were even more surprised!

“We all really wanted to preserve the surprise,” notes Frasier writer Ken Levine.

“So she was brought in during a rehearsal day and that scene was shot in secrecy,” the writer adds. And, Levine explains, the goal was to keep both the TV audiences – and the NBC executives – in the dark.

“They did something rather amazing. They didn’t tell the network,” Levine says of the Frasier showrunner’s effort to keep the cameo under wraps. Levine adds that the Frasier producers “delivered the episode without the Diane snippet.”

Then, Levine says, just hours before the episode was set to air, the Frasier producers gave NBC a new tape. The one with the Diane clip included.