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Dark Behind-The-Scenes Stories About 'Frasier'

Fraiser was one of the most popular shows on television in the 1990s and early 2000s. During its run from 1993 to 2004, the show brought home 37 Emmys and garnered millions of weekly viewers. But behind the scenes, the show wasn't always smooth sailing. Star Kelsey Grammer struggled with addiction in the show's early years, forcing his co-stars to stage an intervention. After a traffic incident, Grammer eventually checked into rehab and forced Fraiser into a production hiatus. 

The show almost didn't make the air at all after the Paramount president declared the original idea for the Cheers spinoff "one of the worst ideas I've ever heard in my life." Casting problems meant that the network fired Lisa Kudrow, the first actress hired to play Roz, before the show's initial read-through. And star David Hyde Pierce declared the pilot script terrible. Here are the behind-the-scenes stories that shaped Frasier, including the truth about Moose, the dog hired to play Eddie.

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  • Photo: NBC

    The Show Was Almost About A Disabled Media Mogul

    In 1992, as Cheers was wrapping up, NBC hoped for a spinoff show. NBC president Warren Littlefield recalled, "I'd talk to anybody who would listen and say, 'Hey, Cheers spinoff - is there anything we want to do here?'"

    Peter Casey, a writer on Cheers, came up with an idea: "We wanted Kelsey to play this Malcolm Forbes-type character who had this magazine empire. He was a motorcycle enthusiast who was in an accident and was paralyzed from the waist down."

    But when he pitched it to NBC, the network was horrified. President of Paramount TV John Pike said, "I was absolutely speechless." He told Casey, "You know, whatever it is you want to do, I'll get it on the air. But this is one of the worst ideas I've ever heard in my life. It's not funny."

  • Photo: NBC

    Peri Gilpin Had To Fight For The Role Of Roz

    Frasier producers felt stumped when it came to casting Roz Doyle, the character named after the eponymous Wings producer who passed away from cancer in the early '90s. Casting director Jeff Greenberg revealed that they had auditioned hundreds for the role:

    I brought in wonderful actresses of every size, shape, and age: Allison Janney, Patricia Clarkson, Hope Davis, Janeane Garofalo, Salma Hayek. The last two left standing were Lisa Kudrow and Peri Gilpin.

    Gilpin and Kudrow competed for the role. Gilpin recalled, "Lisa and I went on at least five auditions together for Roz."

    Initially, the show cast Kudrow, which was before she became a household name, thanks to her role as Phoebe on Friends. But during early rehearsals, producers changed their minds and replaced Kudrow with Gilpin.

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    Kirstie Alley Didn't Join The Show Because She Didn't Believe In Psychiatry

    The creators of Frasier distinguished their series from Cheers by setting the show in Seattle - it was a long way from Boston. But once Frasier was on the air, the show regularly brought in guest stars from Cheers, including Bebe Neuwirth as Lilith. 

    There was one major exception. Cheers cast member Kirstie Alley said she didn't want to be on Frasier due to her Scientologist beliefs. The show centered on psychiatry, and Alley reportedly didn't want to support a show that promoted something that conflicted with her religion.

    Creator David Lee responded to Alley's declaration by saying, "I don't recall asking."

  • Photo: NBC

    Kelsey Grammer Reminded The Other Actors Who Got Top Billing

    Kelsey Grammer wasn't shy about admitting he did Frasier for the money. When the network tried to convince Grammer to do the show, he ultimately agreed, saying, "I trust your instincts, and I really do want to be very, very wealthy."

    In the first season, when it became clear that Frasier was a hit, Grammer also reminded his castmates who took top billing on the show. David Hyde Pierce remembered saying to Grammer, "Does this mean I'll never have to work again?"

    Grammer responded, "No, it means I’ll never have to work again."