TCA 2011: Kelsey Grammer gets a new show, a new outlook on life
Things have been a bit rocky the last few years for Kelsey Grammer, who gained fame and fortune with his portrayal of neurotic psychiatrist Frasier Crane on "Cheers" and "Frasier."
Grammer suffered a heart attack, his post-"Frasier" series have flopped and he was shown in a less-than-flattering light as the deterioration of his marriage to his fourth wife, Camille, played out on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."
But Grammer was noticeably upbeat and reflective about his life and career as he appeared at a Television Critics Assn. gathering to discuss his new Starz series, "Boss," in which he plays a ruthless Chicago mayor. The role is a significant departure for Grammer, who has mostly starred in network comedies.
Taking on a corrupt government official "was almost supernatural," said Grammer. "It was a presumptive joy to come to work every day." He compared the role to Iago in "Othello," whom he described as one of Shakepeare's greatest evil characters, one that audiences love to hate. Doing the show "is probably the greatest time of my life, creatively."
But "Boss" is also a key element in his plan to change his life. Grammer said that after his 2008 heart attack, "I decided I needed to make a life change." He and his representatives "cast an imagninative net over the next 30 to 40 years" to determine what changes he could make to his life and career.
Part of the change apparently involves candor. Grammer said his last network series, "Hank," in which he played a Wall Street executive who loses his job and moves his family to a small town, "wasn't very funny," a one-joke concept that was not well-developed. The ABC series was canceled after a few episodes after Grammer contacted Peter Roth, the head of Warner Bros. Television, which produced the show, and asked, "Peter, how do we put a bullet in this thing?"
In addition to the new series, Grammer married flight attendant Kayte Walsh earlier this year,
Farhad Safinia, executive producer of "Boss," said Grammer is a revelation in the new series. "The first shot of him will wipe the slate clean.... It's a remarkable piece of work."
— Greg Braxton
Photo: Kelsey Grammer in "Boss." Photo credit: Starz.