Sunday, April 08, 2012

The FRASIER episode NBC didn't see until it was on the air

Here is one of those Friday FRASIER questions that warrants its own post.  Submitted by anonymous. Again, please leave your name. Honestly, no one will stone you if they don’t like your question. Thanks.
In Season 2 of Frasier, you and David wrote a two-parter where Lillith and Frasier end up taking their new beaus to the same romantic hiding spot. Were those episodes designed to bring Bebe back as a special guest star or was that a moment of inspiration that just happened in the writing?

That story stemmed from a real life incident. One of the writers used to work on a different show. At the end of a long grueling season he and his girlfriend took off for Bora Bora. It required several flights, a boat, and a bus to get to this incredibly remote resort. They arrive in their room, unpack, and this writer goes out to the balcony to enjoy the view. And who is on the very next balcony? The show runner he traveled 10,000 miles to forget. We knew we were going to use Bebe again that season so this seemed like a perfect story. Frasier finally finds a woman he really likes. They go to the end of the earth and there’s Lilith.

And always looking to top ourselves we thought, wouldn’t it be funny if he goes back to Bora Bora at the end of the show and there’s Diane on the next balcony? Obviously, that would have been too coincidental so we did it as a dream. He is back in Bora Bora but this time with Niles. But that twist (that you’d never see coming) was just too delicious to resist.

Shelley Long was contacted and agreed to do it. But we all really wanted to preserve the surprise. So she was brought in during a rehearsal day and that scene was shot in secrecy. On filming night the joke was that Niles was Frasier’s companion instead of a woman.

The producers were concerned that if NBC knew about Diane’s cameo they would promo it and spoil the surprise. So they did something rather amazing.

They didn’t tell the network.

They delivered the episode without the Diane snippet. And then on the day it was scheduled to air they said, “Oh, we needed to fix something, here’s the version we want you to air instead.” No one thought anything of it and so the first time NBC learned of this was when they saw it on the air. I’m not sure a show could get away with that today but it was sure fun at the time.

Of all the FRASIER episodes we wrote that one is one of my favorites.

12 comments:

Lucky Punk said...

Thanks for the story! I loved that episode.

Michael said...

In what had been announced as the final season of NYPD Blue, Sipowicz gets a visit from the ghost of Simone. ABC promoted it, and I remember critics saying ABC shouldn't have on the grounds that this was really a gift to NYPD Blue loyalists. If Bochco couldn't get away with it ....

Larry said...

Once on Coach there was a great bit where Jerry Van Dyke's character Luther attends a family reunion and in the middle of the scene Dick Van Dyke walks by. It was great..or it would have been, except ABC promoted the heck out of it so not only was there no surprise, but you were actually expecting more when it was only a walk-on.

danj said...

Speaking of unpromoted guest stars, have you seen this supercut of Frasier celebrity callers...

http://www.buzzfeed.com/brodiemanthe1st/frasiers-celebrity-callers-2txu

DBA said...

Interesting story. I had always assumed they just started with the first scene from Noel Coward's PRIVATE LIVES and went from there, what with the whole trip & balcony thing.

-bee said...

I don't remember...how did the finale of the 2nd Bob Newhart show play out? I think they managed to keep the details secret but did the network (was it CBS?)≥ hype it as having a "shocking" surprise ending or whatever?

Max Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Leo Marvin said...

My theory: "Anonymous" is Shelley Long.

Dan Tedson said...

Guerilla sitcomming. I like it.

And if Anonymous was Shelley Long, I'd have already proposed. But only to the Diane part of her brain. Delicate procedure because if I miss and hit the medulla oblongata, I'm the catcher.

Bradley said...

That's probably my favorite Frasier episode! It's fun to get a glimpse behind the scenes...

john said...

I remember a similar story in the paper..
after the indians lost to the braves (I believe), omar visquel went into the jungle somewhere to get away and forget it - and one of the first people he saw had an indians hat on

Matt said...

So...am I the only one who had NO FREAKING CLUE that the callers on Frasier were celebs? Were they all? How could I have missed this all these years?