Saturday, March 18, 2017

Writing comedy for Dr. Timothy Leary

Here's a Friday Question (even though it's Saturday), complete with a special guest expert!

Jim S. wants to know:

How did the guest celebrity callers to Frasier's show do their bits? Did they record them, do them live, some combination of both?

How did you choose them? Were they favors, a cool inside baseball thing to do?

When I don’t know the answer I try to go to the person who does. Jeff Greenberg was the award-winning casting director on FRASIER and handled that aspect of the show. Jeff graciously took time out from casting MODERN FAMILY to answer your question Jim S.

We mostly used good non-name actors to record the callers when we filmed the show in front of a live studio audience in a special sound booth we built onstage and replaced those voices later with our namier guest actors. We often recorded those by phone or at a sound facility at their convenience, but occasionally they'd come to the show and record them live. One I can remember who did it live was Jay Leno. I remember that Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio recorded hers from a payphone in Lincoln Center in NY.

Initially we did call in a few favors to get it going. For the pilot, Linda Hamilton did it as a favor to me, and Griffin Dunne was a friend of Chris Lloyd, one of our producers. Other early favors were Patti LuPone and Judith Ivey.

David Lee, one of the creators of the show, and I would decide whom we would ask to be our celebrity callers. We paid them a favored nations $1000 for a few minutes work.

Thanks so much, Jeff. By the way, Timothy Leary was the caller on an episode my partner David and I penned. How many people can say they wrote comedy for Dr. Timothy Leary?

We also wrote for Art Garfunkel and (in case you ever play "6 Degrees of") Kevin Bacon.


A. L. Crivaro said...

Friday question: what is the hardest lesson you've had to learn over the course of your career?

John E. Williams said...

A complete (at least I assume it's complete) list of Frasier's celebrity callers.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Thank you John E Williams!

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Interesting that Season 7 only has one episode with Celebrity callers.

John E. Williams said...

There's no knowing how accurate the list is