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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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  • Kelsey Grammer's Personal Troubles Threatened The Show
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    Kelsey Grammer's Personal Troubles Threatened The Show

    In 1996, Kelsey Grammer checked into the Betty Ford Center. His struggles with substance abuse previously made headlines, but this time, they threatened the show. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Fraiser had an unscheduled production delay to accommodate Grammer's rehab. 

    Grammer decided to get help after crashing his Dodge Viper in Malibu: "After I rolled the Viper, that's when I realized I'd done something." He added, "I've done something I'm really ashamed of, and I'm embarrassed about, and I gotta get some help."

  • The Cast Staged An Intervention For Grammer
    Photo: NBC

    The Cast Staged An Intervention For Grammer

    As Kelsey Grammer's drug use reportedly spun out of control, the other cast members stepped up. They staged an intervention for Grammer, consulting with therapists on what to say. Co-star John Mahoney said of the intervention:

    It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life because basically, it's kicking a dead horse. It's going to somebody's house whom you love, who's down, and just beating him down even further for his own good. And it was... horrifying.

    Fellow cast member Peri Gilpin also recalled being afraid at how Grammer would respond: "It was terrifying, only because we didn't know what we would be met at the door with."

     In the end, Grammer checked into the Betty Ford Center. 

  • David Hyde Pierce Thought The First Script Was Terrible
    Photo: NBC

    David Hyde Pierce Thought The First Script Was Terrible

    After being cast as Frasier's younger brother, Niles, David Hyde Pierce had second thoughts. Pierce recalled, "When I got the script, I read it and thought, 'This is terrible.'" The actor worried that the similarity between Niles and Frasier would ruin the show.

    "They've written two of the same character," he thought at the time. But Pierce was back on board after the first table read: "I saw how two peas in a pod were an asset and not a shortcoming."

  • Kelsey Grammer Originally Didn't Want Jane Leeves On The Show
    Photo: NBC

    Kelsey Grammer Originally Didn't Want Jane Leeves On The Show

    When the Frasier creators decided that Martin Crane should have a live-in nurse, they originally wanted to give the role to Rosie Perez. When they floated the idea to NBC president Warren Littlefield, he suggested Jane Leeves.

    At first, Grammer wasn't sold on the idea. "I was nervous about a British-accented housekeeper," he explained, thinking it would seem too similar to Nanny and the Professor, a 1970s sitcom. 

    Grammer and Leeves met to read together. Grammer insisted on a closed-door meeting between the two of them, and it only took a moment for Leeves to win him over.

  • The Show Was Almost About A Disabled Media Mogul
    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."

  • Peri Gilpin Had To Fight For The Role Of Roz
    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.