“Frasier” may have kept TV watchers laughing for 11 seasons after spinning-off from the hit sitcom “Cheers,” but the show almost didn’t happen.
“My initial feelings were that Frasier should die with ‘Cheers,’” Kelsey Grammer said of wanting to see his character, the psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane, fade off into the sunset along with “Cheers,” which ended in 1993.
Luckily for TV viewers, Grammer was persuaded to keep Crane alive and, today, a trophy case full of Emmy awards later, he says he’s grateful he continued on as Frasier Crane.
“I said, ‘Okay, he’s not married and he doesn’t really see his child and, of course, I forgot to mention that I didn’t want any animals on the show, but one oversight,” Grammer told Chris Connelly as the “Frasier” cast reunited for Entertainment Weekly magazine’s annual Reunion Issue.
The men of the show – Grammer, David Hyde Pierce and John Mahoney – gathered together in Chicago, while the show’s female leads – Peri Gilpin and Jane Leeves – gathered in Los Angeles to recall the fun they had acting on television’s most honored live-action, prime-time comedy.
“The [pilot] script was so brilliant [that] I’d be an idiot to turn it down,” remembered Mahoney, who played family patriarch Martin Crane. “Plus, to work with Kelsey meant a great deal to me…I don’t think anything I’ve ever done in my life I’m more proud of than ‘Frasier.’”
Lisa Kudrow, who went on to become a household name starring as Phoebe Buffay in “Friends,” was originally cast to play Roz Doyle, the straight-talking producer of Frasier’s radio talk show, who became a close family friend to the Cranes.
Just a few days into the show’s first days, Kudrow was replaced by Peri Gilpin in the role.
“They wrote a real three-dimensional person and [she] is the kind of person you always have at work, the person with the smart-ass comments,” Gilpin said of her character.
“I watched a lot of ‘Cheers’ preparing to do it,” recalled David Hyde Pierce, who played Frasier’s even-more-neurotic brother, Dr. Niles Crane. “I know with my own family, that the things that make people really seem like family and siblings is they have physical mannerisms.”
For many seasons, Niles Crane had a long-suffering, hidden love affair for Jane Leeves’ character, Daphne Moon. The stars revealed it was actually Leeves who thought from the very beginning that the two characters should be together.
“Jane Leeves, in the first photo shoot we did, after she said, ‘I always thought it would be nice if Daphne had a thing for Niles,’ [and] we started sort of hanging over each other,” Hyde Pierce recalled.
“There is just something about Niles and David that is adorable,” Leeves told Connelly of why she saw them as a pair.
Niles and Daphne ended up married on-screen, and the cast agreed that life behind the scenes on the “Frasier” set was just as happily ever after.
“It was not just life transforming, it was tons of fun,” said Gilpin.
“I’m going to go out on a limb,” said Grammer. “It was a pretty perfect show.”
When the final episode of “Frasier” aired on May 13, 2004, 33 million viewers tuned in.