Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More on FRASIER you didn't knowhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

Since FRASIER seems to be the topic de jour, here’s some additional inside dope. But first, a couple of brief announcements.

1) I will be guesting on KABC radio in Los Angeles Tuesday night at 11:00. 790 on the LA AM dial or
streaming on their website. Will be discussing this blog and God knows what. And if it works out I may be interviewed someday at 10 p.m. That's the shameless plug. And then...

2) My daughter, Annie is home from college for the holidays and is annoyed that her brother won't be able to come down from San Jose. So she took out an ad in Craig's List for a new brother. Let's all wish her luck.

Okay, now back to today's post...

A reader wondered whether John Mahoney’s appearing on CHEERS had any effect on his getting cast in FRASIER.

Yes it did.

And there’s a very weird story behind it all.

That CHEERS episode was filmed the year before FRASIER was developed. John played a hack jingle writer in “Do Not Forsake Me O’ My Postman” written by David Isaacs and me. But he was not the original actor hired for that role. I will not reveal his name because he was a dear man, a good friend, no longer with us, and I don’t want him to be remembered for this. All week this actor was a little nervous, even though he had done a lot of live theatre, and was even a regular on a popular multi-camera sitcom in the 70’s. But he had been out of the business for awhile, I suppose felt rusty, and was a little intimidated to be on CHEERS. But the truth was he was fine. Got every laugh, was liked by cast and crew.

Flash forward to show day. Dress rehearsal at 3:00, filming at 7:00. The dress rehearsal went well. Everyone was happy. This actor then got in his car, drove off the lot, AND NEVER RETURNED.

Your first thought (after being absolutely stunned) is to be royally pissed but think about it – how utterly terrified must that poor man have been to do something like that knowing full well he would never get another TV acting gig again? Your heart had to go out to him. The pain he must’ve been in.

But of course this left us with a HUGE problem. The audience was already filing in. The decision was made to just not film the scenes his character was in, recast, and shoot them the following week.

John Mahoney was hired as the replacement. Casey, Lee, and Angell saw him on that episode and thought he would be perfect for Frasier’s dad.

Now who knows? Maybe John would have gotten the part anyway. Maybe someone in casting would have brought up his name. But in all likelihood there would have been casting sessions. A hundred actors might have tried out for the role. Then call-backs, different producers, studio and network execs all weighing in with different opinions. Maybe screen tests. Politics. Lobbying. Perhaps someone else even getting the role.

How important is luck? How rare that the planets just happen to line up perfectly?

The fate of FRASIER and John Mahoney’s entire career might’ve changed if only one man, one year before, took one Lexapro.

23 comments:

Flop said...

That was the "Beer and pretzels, that's our game _ C-H-E-R-S!" one, right?

Still makes me laugh.

Poodle Head said...

aaarrghh!
"blind items" make me crazy!
can't you do some cute little hints or something????

Anonymous said...

Norman Fell?

I'm not sure he ever did lots of live theater, though.

Anonymous said...

Richard Mulligan?

Anonymous said...

You're both wrong.

It's Whitman Mayo.

Anonymous said...

Don Knotts?

Nah... I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Annie clearly has her father's comic ability- a budding comedy writer ;)

Anonymous said...

That CHEERS episode was filmed the year before FRASIER was developed. John played a hack jingle writer in “Do Not Forsake Me O’ My Postman” written by David Isaacs and I.
ME!
written by David Isaacs and me.
You need an objective pronoun in this case. And that would be me.

VP19 said...

And if Vanessa Angel hadn't become ill, she would have been first cast as the then-villainous Xena character as a guest star on "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys." Lucy Lawless would then today probably still be working in Auckland, a regional name but no more, and an Angel "Xena" character might not have evolved into a heroine and star of her own series.

Anonymous said...

Well, jeez, now he's going to be remembered for not having his name mentioned in your blog. What kind of legacy is that?

Anonymous said...

Ted Knight?

Patrick Walsh said...

Character actors don't come much more likable than John Mahoney. He was particularly great in "Moonstruck" and "Say Anything."

www.patrickwalsh.blog-city.com

Anonymous said...

Sandy Baron?

Anonymous said...

Ted Knight passed away in 1986, long before this episode was filmed. Richard Mulligan was starring in "Empty Nest" (recorded in front of an audience) at the time, so it couldn't have been him. Whitman Mayo had made recurring appearances on both "Amen" and "227" (both taped in front of an audience) within a year or two of this episode being filmed, so it couldn't have been him (he wouldn't have been "rusty").

I think it's Don Knotts as well. Notice how Ken referred to a "popular" 70s sitcom, rather than a "great" or "classic" one. Also, Don Knotts reportedly had a difficult time adjusting to a live audience on "Three's Company" ("Andy Griffith" was a one-camera show, with laugh track added later).

Anonymous said...

Yeah... either Don Knotts or Normal Fell is my guess, too.

Anonymous said...

That's "Norman" Fell.

Dave Olden said...

Annie's want ad was priceless, yet when I went to show it to others (following the link from here), I saw this page...

" Posting flagged down by craigslist users

(The title on the listings page will be removed in just a few minutes.) "

Ken, any chance Annie still has a copy, that maybe you could post here?

Regardless, the creative skills do seem hereditary.

Ken Levine said...

Dave,

I posted her ad in the Xmas gifts post. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I think I hear Sue Herring turning over.

Jim said...

"Okay, how about you be Sy Lembeck, and I'll be the annoying broad"

I loved that episode

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Jacob said...

In the most recent "Martini Shot," Rob Long tells the same story, but again leave out the name: http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/ma

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