Cracked.com article that I thought I’d just take a day and respond to it.
The article claims that when Kelsey Grammer first appeared on CHEERS, the only reason producers kept him on for more than the initial three episodes he was signed for was because Shelley Long hated him and the producers hated Shelley so much they retained him purely out of spite.
They weren't just fabricating a story. The article makes this claim based on Kelsey’s autobiography.
So with all due respect to Kelsey Grammer, whom I love and have worked with since his first day at CHEERS till his last day on FRASIER – let me categorically say that this is just not true. Not remotely true.
I don’t know where he got his misinformation. I suspect it was hearsay, but I can tell you unequivocally that it is wrong.
And in the process he does a disservice not only to Shelley but to himself.
Quite simply, he was retained because he was terrific and once everyone saw the dynamics between his character and the others in the bar it was clear that Frasier Crane was a keeper. For Kelsey to suggest anything other is not to give himself enough credit. He earned the promotion.
CHEERS would never ever ever carry a character they didn’t think added to the show. Especially such a pivotal character. Remember too, at the beginning of the third season CHEERS was still fighting for its ratings life. COSBY premiered that year and that’s when the show took off. But think about it -- CHEERS was finally starting to get big numbers. Why would they dilute their product with an unnecessary character just when they were on the verge of lasting success?
Now let me say a few words about Shelley’s behavior. She could be difficult. She could be obstinate. She could over-think something to death. But it was never out of spite. It was just her very exacting process. At times I will admit it was frustrating. And exhausting. But Shelley has a good heart. She is a sweet person. And in her defense, she had an incredibly complex difficult character to play. To make Diane Chambers loveable and funny while still maintaining her haughty attitude took a very special actress. It would be so easy to just hate Diane. Shelley did an extraordinary job. I can't think of a single actress who could have done the role better... or even as well. So if it took her longer to find the moments and just the right shading then tough. The results were on the screen.
But the point I want to reiterate is that she is a lovely person. I know actors who are just mean-spirited monsters -- unhappy miserable people who want everyone around them to be as unhappy as they are. That’s not Shelley. She would never think to ask producers to fire someone just because she didn’t get along with him.
I should also mention that Kelsey was nothing but gracious, professional, prepared, and kind (as he remained throughout both CHEERS and FRASIER) on the set. It’s not like he was disruptive or unreliable in any way or gave anyone any cause to want to show him the door.
And one final point: Let’s say you have an actress who’s a real problem. What’s the best way to make her even MORE of a problem? Force someone on her that she’s told you she hates. If you think your life was a living hell BEFORE? Just watch. Trust me, producers know this. And the ones that don't are in the cardiac ward at Cedars.
I’ve told the story before, the producers kept her appearance a secret even to the network so they wouldn’t spoil the joke by promoting her. So Shelley was getting no publicity, very little exposure, very little pay and still did it anyway – more as a favor to Kelsey. Granted, this was before the book came out, but even after it did, she was asked to do another episode of FRASIER – this one more substantial – and she agreed to do it. So they couldn’t hate each other that much.
One downside to the internet is that people can write anything and it potentially can get spread around the world as fact. I’m happy to be able to set the record straight (not that I’m any more believable than anyone else on the internet). But I’m right about this one.