Wow. The first Friday question of the year. I’d love to answer yours. Just leave it in the comments section. All I ask is that you leave your name. Thanks.
Today’s question is from anonymous.
How does a major TV actor (like Kelsey Grammer) who has been in major hits (like Cheers and Frasier) end up in a stinker like Hank?
To answer this I first must introduce you to a gentleman named The Real Don Steele. For the last half of the 60s, The Real Don Steele ruled the Los Angeles radio airwaves. As the afternoon “Bossjock” on Boss Radio KHJ, Steele led the larger-than-life life you’d expect from a major celebrity. Fame, fortune, women, hob nobbing with rock stars, getting drunk and passing out in Frank Sinatra’s pasta while trying to sing “Strangers in the Night” to him -- this was his world. He was and will always be one of my idols.
His own local television show followed, as did movie roles in some of the most prestigious films Hollywood has ever produced – EATING RAOUL, DEATH RACE 2000, GRAND THEFT AUTO, ROCK & ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, and even KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK.
Then “Boss Radio” fell from grace. In 1974 The Real Don Steele was doing afternoons on K100, an LA FM station with a horrible signal. I know. I followed him from 6-10 PM.
At KHJ Steele had an engineer. All he did was turn on and off the mic. It was stature befitting a king. At K100 he had to run his own board – play the music, commercials, watch the levels, etc.
One night I’m in the booth a few minutes before he was to sign-off. The equipment was terrible, things were breaking, he was hitting the wrong buttons. It was really sad. Finally he got the record to play, switched off the mic, and turned to me.
“Beaver!” he said. (My air name was Beaver Cleaver). “Beaver, have you ever wondered why me, the Real Don Steele, would be working in this fucking shit hole?!”
“Uh…” I stammered, “Yeah, uh, I guess so. Sure.”
We were on the 14th floor of what is now the CNN building in Hollywood. He gazed out the window at the city below, reflected for a moment, looked back at me, and said softly and wistfully, “Because when it was good, it was GREAT”.
This is purely conjecture on my part, but I think if you ask Kelsey Grammer why he felt the need to sign up for another sitcom so soon after his last one missed the mark he might give you that very same answer.
By the way, Kelsey has just signed to star in the revival of LA CAGE AU FOLLES on Broadway. I have a strong feeling things will be great for him again very soon.