Kelsey Grammer reflects on his role as Frasier, dealing with fame, and the therapeutic power of God. He describes his presence as a prominent figure in the entertainment industry.
The individual that Kelsey Grammer was most hoping to approve of the Frasier reboot will never have the chance. In 2018, when John Mahoney passed away, Grammer stated, “He was like a father to me. I cherished him.” Grammer’s own father passed away when he was 13, just one year after his grandfather, who had raised him, also passed away. When Mahoney took on the role of Frasier’s father, Martin, he not only played the character but also became a loving and stable parent figure for the close-knit cast. In 1996, Mahoney had to take Grammer to rehab, which he described as “the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life.” However, it was successful.
Most of the main cast members from the original show declined the opportunity to come back. However, Grammer was insistent that Mahoney’s presence would somehow be included.
“He is in agreement,” he beams through the video call, with tan skin and a bright smile. The wall behind him is filled with family photos arranged in a grid, adorned with dinosaur decorations from his son’s seventh birthday celebration. Grammer and his fourth wife, Kayte, have two other children aged nine and eleven, while Grammer has four more children from previous relationships. In the background, there is a constant joyful noise.
According to Grammer, John was always involved in the project and was greatly appreciated. The project could not move forward without his approval. Grammer’s voice trembles, showing his emotional sensitivity. Therefore, John was invited to be a part of it and Grammer extended the invitation.
At the start of the new season, we see Frasier attending Martin’s funeral. He goes back to Boston to visit his son Freddy, who has chosen to be a firefighter instead of pursuing a career in academia like his grandfather. However, there’s another surprise – a baby named John. Frasier also visits a bar called Mahoney’s, which was established in 1940, the same year his father was born. The first episode ends with a short clip of Martin.
Grammer wanted to go further. “I was trying to style the last sequence so we could maybe have a remnant, a physical manifestation of John. We fell short.” Instead, Frasier gives Freddy a flag flown at Martin’s funeral. “I think we hit the sweet spot in terms of honouring John and Martin.”
Mahoney gave his approval in a roundabout way. Grammer, who produced the supernatural show Medium, received a call from someone in that realm who informed him that Mahoney was pleased about it. Grammer becomes emotional and says, “That was very kind.”
The original spin-off of Frasier had high stakes. How do you surpass a sitcom that is beloved and praised like Cheers? By creating one that is even better. It cleverly combined workplace humor – with Frasier, a pretentious radio psychiatrist, managing calls while Roz, a bold producer, worked alongside him – with domestic comedy, as Frasier and his even snobbier brother Niles clashed with their gruff ex-cop father and, in the case of the latter, harbored feelings for Martin’s quirky physical therapist, Daphne. Frasier’s 11-year run on television earned 37 Emmys and 108 nominations. The finale was viewed by 34 million people in the US and remains a staple in TV schedules worldwide.
Joe Cristalli, a 38-year-old devoted fan of Frasier, has been feeling anxious in recent months. In 2014, Cristalli created a Twitter account dedicated to modern Frasier jokes. When Kelsey Grammer expressed interest in creating a new show, Cristalli shared his Twitter thread with him and teamed up with experienced TV writer Chris Harris to pitch an idea. Out of the 30 pitches Grammer received, he liked theirs the most. As the writers’ strike was looming, ten episodes were quickly produced this spring and began airing in October.
Cristalli expresses that it can be quite overwhelming to have the possibility of destroying something dear to you. While the opinions of critics were important, it was individuals who shared similar interests as herself that caused the most anxiety. The Frasier fan forums can be fiercely passionate.
Fortunately, the response has been mostly favorable. The general agreement is that once you settle into the show – and it’s clear that the actors are doing the same – there’s plenty to appreciate. On Reddit, the main cause for concern is Frasier’s choice of jeans. At the age of 68, the character is now extremely wealthy (thanks to his TV talk show) and has a more modern appearance.
“Reflecting on our previous show, while it had its silly moments, we may have also taken ourselves too seriously,” Grammer states. “We had this mindset of being the best show ever, but I began to question if that was the right attitude. That’s why I brought on new writers who could inject more lightheartedness into the show. The character is now less uptight.”
He is in the company of a younger crowd. As a professor at Harvard, one of his pupils is David (played by Anders Keith), an 18-year-old and clumsy son of Niles and Daphne. At home, there is Freddy (played by Jack Cutmore-Scott) and, next door, Eve (played by Jess Salgueiro), an actress and bartender. Both are attractive, energetic, in their mid-30s and therefore, according to the standards of Frasier, considered immature.
A 2020 article from The New Yorker revealed that when the show Frasier first aired in 1993, the main character was only 38 years old. This means that the sophisticated, sherry-drinking, piano-playing divorced father was not even 40 at the time. When asked about this, actor Kelsey Grammer indicated that he believes society today has a slower pace of growing up. He points to the passing of new healthcare laws, which allow individuals to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26, as a significant event that has influenced this cultural shift. Grammer suggests that 26 is now seen as the new age of adulthood, rather than 18.
He flashes a victorious smile. It is a common tactic for Grammer to smoothly transition into an unpopular viewpoint using charm and persuasion. But has this trend of infantilization diminished the quality of comedy? It is possible. Children tend to find certain, very specific things humorous while adults with more refined tastes may find different things funny. However, the show Frasier remains geared towards the latter audience. This may alienate some younger viewers, but it is uncertain what is truly happening behind closed doors as some five-year-olds claim it as their favorite show while some 30-year-olds have never even seen it.
Rammer has a strong understanding of the shifts in comedy and how they align with the decline of society. These changes, rather than a longing for the past, were the driving force behind the reboot. People desire something humorous that can be universally appreciated without being bogged down by self-deprecating portrayals of ourselves. The most endearing aspect of comedy is when it doesn’t take itself too seriously and offers a warm, affectionate perspective on our imperfections.
Let’s rejoice in our shared humanity and humor. Instead of constantly repressing and consuming ourselves, let’s move forward with joy. Unfortunately, there is very little left that can make us laugh these days. This has made us quite dull, hasn’t it?
According to the speaker, Frasier is a valuable example of how to live. He strives to be truthful, genuine, and full of love. The speaker made it his own goal to give Frasier a satisfying conclusion where he continues to face challenges and strive to be a kind person.
As he approaches 70, the character continues to possess his integrity and optimism, despite his extensive knowledge, sarcasm, and poor decisions. Grammer cautions that insincerity should not be taken lightly. Society may claim to value social justice, but it often appears to be a facade. We must acknowledge that some changes are necessary. While we are preoccupied with micro-aggressions, we have no qualms about openly attacking those with differing opinions. We casually use hateful language as if it were a joke.
This isn’t reactionary hot air. In 1975, Grammer’s 18-year-old sister, Karen, was kidnapped, raped and murdered. He’s just finished writing a book about her, and in doing so “noticed that since that time, the hatred that killed her hasn’t really gone anywhere. In fact, it’s kind of gained ground.”
He believes that this is due to tribalism. Our usual beliefs – Christianity, structured religion, and a fundamental understanding of what is right – are being mocked. We have questioned our traditional roles and are uncertain about our responsibilities as men and women. And when people are unsure, they can be easily controlled. I simply follow the laws of the land and also follow my faith. I am clear on which side I am on.
Grammar – much like the character he has portrayed since 1984 – is unstoppable. He is bold, he speaks in enigmatic terms, and he cannot resist expressing his opinions. Being on the opposite political spectrum from the majority of Hollywood only amplifies this. For instance, when discussing the Sag-Aftra strike, a topic revered by his colleagues, he states that although he supports unions, silencing actors to promote a cause “didn’t seem like the best approach. I just felt that maybe there was something missing in that strategy.” When asked about the evolution of attitudes towards therapy since 1993, after briefly mentioning microdosing mushrooms, he adds: “God is probably the ultimate therapist, without wanting to sound too preachy. I believe having faith puts you one step ahead in today’s chaotic world. Insanity is prevalent everywhere, it’s a global phenomenon. It seems to be ingrained in our governments. It’s a challenging journey to navigate alone.”
When we disappoint God, we always have Frasier to turn to. Our comedic performances have the ability to elevate discussions and reduce offense, rather than constantly causing offense every time we leave the house.
Out of all the popular sitcoms from the 1990s that are still watched frequently, Frasier, which may seem the most exclusive, is the one with the lowest chance of being cancelled in retrospect. Unlike Friends or Seinfeld, it is not regularly criticized for its outdated perspectives on body image, race, or sexual orientation. Instead, it has always been subtly forward-thinking, much like its main character, possibly due to its inclusion of LGBTQ themes.
While the main characters in the original were not gay, a significant number of the cast, writers, and creatives were, which had a strong impact on the show. However, this influence has not been seen in the spin-off yet, although Cristalli argues that their team includes queer individuals. It is believed that a diverse group of individuals is necessary in creating a successful show, rather than relying on a group of straight white men.
The strongest dialogue in the new show is delivered by Nicholas Lyndhurst, who plays Prof Alan Cornwall, a friend of Frasier’s from Oxford who is now lazily working in the psychiatric department. Upon closer examination, the casting choice is not as surprising. There are many similarities between Frasier and Only Fools and Horses (two brothers and an older man living together). Kelsey Grammer acknowledges this, stating “They are remarkably similar,” and that influenced his decision to cast Nick in the role.
Frasier may have brought Niles or multiple lingerie models to the opera, but he never truly had a best friend. However, in 2019, Grammer and Lyndhurst met while working together in the play Man of La Mancha in London. Grammer describes their meeting as a love-at-first-sight kind of friendship, with both their wives also becoming close. Lyndhurst is a wonderful man, and has been going through a difficult time in the past couple of years.
Lyndhurst has taken on his first role since his son, Archie, unexpectedly passed away from a brain hemorrhage in 2020. It seems likely that Grammer would be a very supportive friend. He is now a strong advocate for Lyndhurst. According to him, American viewers often wonder about Lyndhurst’s identity and are amazed by his comedic talent. Grammer jokingly warns other actors to be careful because Lyndhurst will steal the spotlight whenever he can.
Earlier this year, I personally observed this situation. The Paramount lot in Los Angeles is well-maintained and impressive, but it is also a commercial area with 30 stuffy warehouses producing a significant amount of revenue. It was quite unexpected to come across the filming of the season finale, as if walking into a home goods store and discovering they were performing a play by Noël Coward.
The most noticeable aspect while sitting on the bleachers in front of the three main sets is the dramatic effect. Cutmore-Scott describes it as rehearsing a 30-minute play over four days and then performing it in front of a live audience of 200 people, all in one go and in the correct order. This can be incredibly intense and stressful, with a heightened awareness of adrenaline during the first episode.
After ten episodes, the cast seemed more composed. Lyndhurst appeared unfazed, casually improvising in the blooper reel. Typically, each scene was filmed multiple times and lines were adjusted based on the audience’s reaction. The entire process took four hours, which was significantly shorter than the tapings for Friends, which often went on for 12 hours to capture the biggest response from the audience. At times, this approach was too forceful, as seen when two characters kissed and Grammer, who was also directing, urged the crowd to “kill the woos.” The loudest screams came when Roz was revealed, marking Gilpin’s guest appearance.
Gilpin described the experience as surreal, like living a dream. She had missed it greatly and felt a strong bond with her co-star Frasier and Kelsey, who she considers to be like a brother or best friend. Being welcomed back by them was an honor. The return served as a reminder of the warmth generated by multi-camera shows, as the connection between the cast and studio audience somehow extends through the TV and reaches people at home.
Cutmore-Scott concurs. “Single-camera comedies, where you’re performing in isolation, cannot achieve the same sense of community. In this show, the audience is a character. We are completely reliant on their feedback.” Growing up watching Friends – as a British person, he attributes his accent to Chandler – it wasn’t until he worked on Frasier that he realized how invested he was. “Multi-camera comedy allows you to feel as though you are in the room with these characters. At the cafe, gathered around the table together, laughing.” The live audience at the studio is well taken care of, with a host to entertain them between takes and plenty of chocolate. While filming the original, Gilpin explains, “We were very deliberate in not taking too long for costume changes. We wanted to keep the audience engaged.” If any of the cast felt they were going to stumble over their lines, they were told to “just stop. Mess up before you get to the punchline. Let the audience hear it fresh.”
It was impossible not to be charmed. Grammer shed tears during the introductions. Some of his offspring were among the audience. Gilpin brought her spouse and what I initially thought were their girls, but turned out to be her first two followers on Twitter. “Jordan and Caitlyn. They’re absolutely lovely. I was ecstatic that they traveled across the country for this.” Mahoney’s bar even offers real beer: Grammer’s own brand, Faith American IPA. “There are no gimmicks on our show,” he asserts. Gilpin only realized this when filming began. “It was delectable,” she remarks, “but it packed quite a punch. And I’m no stranger to drinking.”
If it’s not already apparent, the entire production, including the alcohol, is under Grammer’s control. The last day of filming also coincided with the start of the writers’ strike, so Grammer not only starred and directed, but also took on the role of showrunner (Cristelli and Harris went to a nearby bar). Watching him manage the entire operation was truly remarkable. “It’s where I was meant to be,” says Grammer. “It’s the natural culmination of 30 years of preparation. I want to involve everyone, but ultimately, I have a significant influence. And that’s okay, because I am fair and have worked hard to get where I am.”
The author, Grammer, proudly embraces his success and that of his character. He is now so rich that he can purchase an entire apartment building without hesitation. “I put in a lot of effort and so did Frasier. We have both worked tirelessly to reach this point. The only lesson to take away from success with great financial gain is that hard work pays off. I don’t think this will be a problem for many people, unless they are unwilling to put in the effort.”
He mentions Jeff Bezos. “You could argue that he’s a bit… but just look at what he’s achieved! I go to stores and people tell me, ‘Why bother getting it here when you can just order from Amazon? It’ll take us three weeks.’ That’s quite impressive. It may have affected some other businesses, but I do believe that small businesses are a crucial part of capitalism. They allow entrepreneurs to establish themselves, make their case, and sell their products. However, if you can’t do that, you won’t survive.”
He warns against assuming that one is entitled to certain privileges. He shares that his own ancestors had to endure great hardships, such as losing children and dying while travelling through the American plains. This does not feel like a privilege, but rather a sacrifice. He believes that this sacrifice may have been passed down to him and is a part of his generational inheritance.
However, there is currently a greater emphasis on inequality compared to 1993. The extravagance of Frasier and Niles was balanced by the fact that they were often the target of jokes. According to Harris, “Martin would always outsmart them, it wasn’t a case of making fun of those who are less fortunate.” The new show has the freedom to make fun of those in higher positions because Frasier’s status provides some protection. “He will be able to recover because he is in a relatively stable position.”
Cristalli agrees, having just viewed the film Shrinking starring Jason Segel as a psychiatrist coping with his wife’s death. She reflects, “With his character, you’d hope for the dinner party to be a success because he’s so vulnerable. But with Frasier, his recent loss of his father makes you anticipate a disaster at the dinner party. It’s like you want to see things go wrong in a dramatic way.”
It is deemed irrational to love Frasier, according to their consensus. Cristalli states, “The character shouldn’t be so endearing.” Despite being the wealthiest person in the room, Kelsey has a certain charm in his demeanor.” Cristalli expresses disbelief, acknowledging that even though he knows the man, there is still a hint of quirkiness. “I am unsure of what he does, but he excels at it.”
The show Frasier is currently available on Paramount+.