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18 Things You Might Not Know About Frasier

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Gale Adler/Paramount

The character of psychiatrist Frasier Crane was added to Cheers during the series’ third season as a temporary release for some of the Sam and Diane relationship tension. Dr. Crane was only supposed to be around for a few episodes, but thanks to a combination of good writing and Kelsey Grammer’s performance, Frasier became a series regular by Cheers's fifth season. He was so popular that he was eventually spun off into his own series, which premiered on September 16, 1993—and lasted an amazing 11 years. Here are some fun behind-the-scenes facts for all you Frasier fans.

1. THE ORIGINAL IDEA FOR THE SHOW HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH FRASIER.

Kelsey Grammer and the creative team behind Frasier (David Lee, David Angell, and Peter Casey) originally thought that any use of the Dr. Crane character would encourage unfair comparisons to Cheers, so their initial ideas involved Kelsey playing a paralyzed media mogul cared for by a street-smart nurse in a Manhattan penthouse. Paramount hated the idea and convinced all concerned that it would be unwise not to capitalize on the built-in Cheers audience.

2. THEY WANTED TO SET THE SHOW AS FAR AWAY FROM BOSTON AS POSSIBLE.

Once it was agreed that Grammer would continue as Dr. Crane, the creators still wanted to distance themselves from Boston and the whole "crossover syndrome." They knew that the network would insist on having former Cheers characters make guest appearances if the show was set anywhere in Massachusetts, so they moved Frasier across the country to Seattle. The gourmet coffee scene was just taking root in that area, which provided a central meeting place for the characters. The creators didn't want Frasier Crane to work in private practice, since that had already been done on The Bob Newhart Show. Grammer's resonant voice seemed natural for radio, so the concept of a call-in psychiatry show seemed natural.

3. LISA KUDROW COULD HAVE PLAYED ROZ ...

Future Friends star Lisa Kudrow originally won the role of Frasier’s producer, Roz Doyle. But during the third day of rehearsals prior to filming the pilot, the producers realized that while Kudrow was certainly funny enough, she just wasn’t forceful enough to match Grammer when he went all out. They needed a female “alpha dog” to play the part, so Kudrow was out and second choice Peri Gilpin was in. The character was named after Roz Doyle, one of the producers of Wings who died of breast cancer in 1991 at age 49.

4. ... AND ROSIE PEREZ WAS ALMOST DAPHNE.

Rosie Perez was this close to being psychic home health care worker Daphne. Grammer was pushing for the character to be a Latina, while the producers had their eye on Jane Leeves. Grammer’s main objection to the British Leeves was that the show might too closely resemble Nanny and the Professor, a warm and fuzzy family sitcom of the 1970s that starred Juliet Mills as an English nanny with psychic abilities. Grammer agreed to Leeves as the choice when his initial table reading with the actress went exceptionally well.

5. KELSEY GRAMMER SANG THE SHOW'S THEME SONG.

Composer Bruce Miller was given the challenging assignment of writing a theme song for the series that didn’t specifically mention psychiatry, radio, or the name “Frasier.” Lyricist Darryl Phinnesse came up with the cryptic phrase “tossed salad and scrambled eggs” as a metaphor for the “mixed up” patients that Dr. Crane saw regularly. Miller originally envisioned Mel Tormé singing the theme over the closing credits, but the producers preferred to employ Grammer’s golden throat.

6. THE SHOW'S DESIGNERS SPENT MAJOR MONEY FURNISHING FRASIER'S APARTMENT.

“So what do you think of what I’ve done with the place?” Frasier asked his father, Martin, in the pilot episode. “You know, every item here was carefully selected. The lamp by Corbu, this chair by Eames, and this couch is an exact replica of the one Coco Chanel had in her Paris atelier.” The show’s set designers spent almost half a million dollars to give Frasier’s apartment its “eclectic” look. The Coco Chanel replica sofa was covered with 24 yards of Italian suede for an estimated cost of about $15,000. The Eames chair was rented, but the Pastoe curved sideboard was purchased for $3,200 and the Wassily chair had a $1,395 price tag. Martin’s eyesore of a recliner was also on the pricey side, since the prop department couldn’t find an appropriately ugly chair at any second-hand store. The chair was eventually covered with tape and covered with fabric purchased from an exclusive shop that specialized in deliberately tacky 1970s-era textiles.

7. THE FIRST CUT OF THE PILOT WAS SIX MINUTES TOO LONG.

After seven passes, it still came in sixty seconds more than it should and the creative team decided they couldn’t cut any more. NBC agreed and said they would find the extra time—not by cutting a commercial, but by taking 15 seconds from the other 4 shows on that night.

8. JANE LEEVES WORKED WITH AN ACCENT COACH.

Leeves grew up just north of London, England, but since her character was from Manchester she used an affected Mancunian accent (which received a lot of criticism from fans when Frasier aired in the U.K.). Leeves worked with a voice coach to ensure that her accent would be understood by American viewers. John Mahoney, on the other hand, grew up in Manchester but emigrated to the U.S. when he was 19 years old. He concentrated on losing his accent shortly after settling in Illinois so that he would “blend in.”

9. THE CAST MEMBER WHO RECEIVED THE MOST FAN MAIL ISN'T THE ONE YOU MIGHT EXPECT.

When Frasier first started topping the Nielsen ratings every week, which cast member received the most fan mail? Eddie the dog. Leeves once wryly observed that when Entertainment Weekly used Frasier as a lead story in 1993, Eddie was the only cast member to appear on the cover. Eddie was portrayed by a Jack Russell Terrier named Moose, who'd originally been adopted by a family that wasn't aware of the breed's rambunctious nature. Moose had relentless energy—he dug holes in the back yard, chased anything in his path, chewed furniture and even climbed trees to escape his enclosure. His family gave him up to a rescue organization, which is where professional trainer Mathilde de Cagny discovered him. She decided he would be a good working dog because of his boundless energy and desire to always be doing something. Moose turned out to be an apt pupil, and learned to follow commands immediately. During the doggie auditions for the show, the producers were looking for a pooch that could stare endlessly at Kelsey Grammer (a running joke on the series), and Moose performed flawlessly, staring at Mathilde's outstretched index finger offstage until he was "released."

10. WHEN HE RETIRED, MOOSE WAS REPLACED BY HIS SON.

Moose retired at the age of 10 (after the end of Season 7) and his son Enzo took over the role of Eddie. Moose had been bred with the idea of achieving a look-alike replacement when it became obvious that Frasier would have a long run. Enzo had two siblings, a sister named Miko who was too small to play Eddie, and Moosie, who had noticeably different markings. Peri Gilpin, who played Roz, fell in love with Moosie and adopted him.

11. THE FRASIER WRITERS SOMETIMES WORKED SUBTLE HOMAGES TO CHEERS INTO THE SCRIPTS.

One famous example was the recreation of a scene where Sam and Diane were embroiled in a vicious argument that almost ended up in fisticuffs but instead resulted in a passionate embrace. Of course, when Frasier used the same tactic during a shouting match with financial analyst Julia Wilcox, he ended up being accused of sexual harassment.

12. MOST OF THE CHEERS CAST MADE APPEARANCES ON THE SHOW.

Most of the main Boston tavern regulars made appearances on Frasier. Lilith, logically, visited the most since she was Frasier’s ex and Frederick’s mom. Sam, Diane, and Woody all found themselves in Seattle for varying reasons, and a business trip to Boston in Season 9 enabled the Crane family to see the rest of the Cheers gang in one fell swoop. Noticeably absent, however, was Rebecca Howe, played by Kirstie Alley. Alley had contacted co-creator David Lee when Frasier was in the planning stages and informed him that as a Scientologist she did not believe in psychiatry and as a result would not be able to make an appearance on the series. Lee responded simply, “I don’t recall asking.”

13. THE EPISODE WHERE NILES CO-HOSTED HIS BROTHER'S SHOW WAS RE-WRITTEN WHEN GRAMMER WENT TO REHAB.

On the evening of September 21, 1996, Kelsey Grammer flipped his Dodge Viper (a gift from NBC) not far from his driveway in Agoura Hills, California. He wasn’t severely injured, but the resulting DUI arrest spurred him to check in at the Betty Ford Clinic. Frasier was on hiatus for the following three weeks due to the Major League Baseball playoffs, and the episode 4.05 (“Head Games”) was quickly rewritten to feature Niles hosting his brother’s radio program while Frasier was away at a convention. Grammer filmed his bit for the intro at a later date and it was tacked on to the show before broadcast.

14. THE PRODUCERS CREATED NILES SPECIFICALLY FOR DAVID HYDE PIERCE.

There wasn’t any particular plan in place to give Frasier a brother until the assistant casting director approached the creators with a photo of David Hyde Pierce in hand and asked, “Doesn’t he look like Kelsey did 10 years ago?” Startled by the physical resemblance, the creative team dug up some tapes of a short-lived Norman Lear-produced political sitcom called The Powers That Be, on which Pierce portrayed a shy, suicidal Congressman. A meeting was arranged with the actor and he was offered the newly created role of Niles Crane after a brief interview.

15. THE WRITERS EXPLAINED AWAY JANE LEEVES' PREGNANCY IN AN INTERESTING WAY.

Leeves was expecting in real life during Season 7, and her burgeoning baby bump was explained on the show as weight gain from Daphne’s sudden compulsive overeating as a method of dealing with her relationship with Niles. She was sent away to a spa for a few episodes and returned svelte (after daughter Isabella was born).

Roz’s pregnancy in Season 5, however, was strictly a plot device—an attempt by the writers to give the character a story arc of her own. Gilpin wasn’t with child, and she had a lot of explaining to do to friends and family members who thought she’d neglected to tell them about her impending motherhood. The entire Roz’s baby storyline was a misstep in retrospect, Gilpin and the producers agreed, and the infant remained behind the scenes for the most part because Grammer didn’t want the hassle of the tightly restricted work schedule of child actors.

16. EVEN THOUGH HE WAS RETIRED, MOOSE HAD ONE LAST CURTAIN CALL.

Moose was 14 when Frasier came to an end. The dog's fur had turned snow white and he was almost completely deaf, but his trainer carried him out onstage after the final episode taped so that the pooch could take his bows with the rest of the cast. David Hyde Pierce commented that it was one of the most moving moments of the evening, watching Moose recognize and react to the applause one last time.

17. KELSEY GRAMMER PLAYED FRASIER FOR A VERY, VERY LONG TIME ...

Counting the time he spent on Cheers, Kelsey Grammer played the character of Frasier Crane in prime time for 20 consecutive years, a record TV-land hadn’t seen since James Arness played Marshall Dillon on Gunsmoke for the same length of time. Grammer's publicist invited Arness to join Kelsey on The Today Show in 2004, but according to Grammer, Arness rejected the idea with a brief expletive that rhymes with “duck shoe.”

18. GRAMMER IS THE FIRST AMERICAN ACTOR TO BE NOMINATED FOR THE SAME CHARACTER ON THREE DIFFERENT SERIES.

Cheers and Frasier are obvious, but Frasier Crane also made an Emmy-nominated guest appearance on Wings.

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Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked
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Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"
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14 Fascinating Facts About Saturday Night Fever
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

We can tell by the way you use your walk that you're a fan of Saturday Night Fever, the 1977 blockbuster that made John Travolta a mega-star and brought disco into the mainstream. (Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of opinion.) To enhance your appreciation of what was the highest-grossing dance movie of all time until Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) and Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike (2012) beat it, here's a groovy list of facts to celebrate the film's 40th birthday. Put on your boogie shoes and read! 

1. THERE WAS A PG-RATED VERSION OF IT, TOO.

Saturday Night Fever was an instant hit when it was released in December 1977, quickly becoming one of the highest-grossing movies of the year. What's especially impressive is that it did this despite being rated R and thus (theoretically) inaccessible to teenagers, the very audience that a disco movie would (theoretically) appeal to. And so in March 1979, the film was re-released in a PG version, with all the profanity, sex, and violence either deleted or downplayed. This version took in another $8.9 million (about $30 million at 2016 ticket prices), bringing the film's U.S. total to $94.2 million. Both versions were released on VHS and laserdisc, though the R-rated cut didn't become widely available on home video until the DVD upgrade. 

2. IT WAS BASED ON A MAGAZINE ARTICLE THAT TURNED OUT TO BE SEMI-FICTIONAL.

"Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night," a detailed look at the new generation of urban teenagers by British journalist Nik Cohn, was published in New York Magazine in June 1976. The central figure in the article was Vincent, "the very best dancer in Bay Ridge," whose name was changed to Tony Manero for the movie. But years later, Cohn confessed: "[Vincent] is completely made-up, a total fabrication." The styles and attitudes Cohn had described were real, but not the main character. Cohn said he'd only recently arrived in Brooklyn, didn't know the scene well, and based Vincent on a Mod he'd known in London in the '60s.

3. THE BEE GEES HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

Most of the film had already been shot when music producer-turned-movie producer Robert Stigwood commissioned the Bee Gees to write songs for it. The brothers, only modestly successful at that point and hard at work on their next album, didn't know what the movie was about but cranked out a few tunes in a weekend. They also repurposed several songs they'd been working on, including "Stayin' Alive," a demo version of which was prepared in time to be used in filming the opening "strut" sequence. (You'll notice Travolta struts in sync with the music.) So if the movie's signature songs didn't come until later, what were the cast members listening to when they shot the dance scenes? According to Travolta, it was Boz Scaggs and Stevie Wonder. 

4. THE SOUNDTRACK ALBUM BROKE ALL KINDS OF RECORDS.

With 15 million copies sold in the U.S. alone, Saturday Night Fever was the top-selling soundtrack album of all time before being supplanted by The Bodyguard some 15 years later. It's also the only disco record (so far) to win the Grammy for Album of the Year, and one of only three soundtracks (besides The Bodyguard and O Brother, Where Art Thou?) to win that category. It was the number one album on the Billboard charts for the entire first half of 1978, and stayed on the charts until March 1980, long after the supposed death of disco.

5. THE MOVIE EXTENDED DISCO'S LIFESPAN BY A FEW YEARS.

Disco had been popular enough in the mid-1970s to land multiple disco tunes on the Billboard charts, but by the end of 1977, when Saturday Night Fever came out, the backlash had started and the trend was on its way out. But thanks to the movie (and its soundtrack), not only did disco not die out, it achieved more widespread, mainstream, middle-America success than it ever had before.

6. IT HAS SOME ROCKY CONNECTIONS.


Paramount Pictures

First connection: It was supposed to be directed by John G. Avildsen, whose previous film was Rocky. Ultimately, that didn’t work out and Avildsen was replaced with John Badham a few weeks before shooting began. Second connection: Tony has a Rocky poster on his bedroom wall. Third connection: Saturday Night Fever’s 1983 sequel, Staying Alive, was directed by ... Sylvester Stallone.

7. TRAVOLTA WAS ALREADY SO FAMOUS THAT MAKING THE MOVIE WAS A HASSLE.

Saturday Night Fever made Travolta a movie star, but he was already a teen heartthrob because of the popular sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, where he played a delinquent teenager with the hilarious and timeless catchphrase "Up your nose with a rubber hose." Still, nobody was prepared for how Travolta's fame would affect the movie, which was to be shot on the streets of Brooklyn. As soon as the neighborhood found out Travolta was there, the sidewalks were swarmed by thousands of onlookers, many of them squealing teenage girls. (Badham said there were also a lot of teenage boys holding signs expressing their hatred for Travolta for being more desirable than themselves.)

Co-star Donna Pescow said, "The fans—oh, my God, they were all over him. It was scary to watch." Badham said, "By noon of the first day, we had to shut down and go home." Since it was nearly impossible to keep the crowds away (or quiet), Badham and the crew resorted to filming in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn. 

8. THE WHITE CASTLE EMPLOYEES WEREN'T ACTING WHEN THEY LOOKED SHOCKED. 


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In the brief scene where Tony, his boys, and Stephanie are loudly eating at White Castle, those were the real burger-flippers, not actors. Badham told them to just go about their business. He also told his actors to cut loose and surprise the White Castlers in whatever way they saw fit. The shot that's in the movie appears to be a reaction to Joey standing on the table and barking, but Badham said it was actually in response to something else: "Double J (actor Paul Pape) pulling his pants down and mooning the entire staff of the White Castle."

9. THE FEMALE LEAD GOT THE PART THANKS TO A SERENDIPITOUS CAB RIDE.

Casting the role of Tony's dance partner, Stephanie, proved difficult. Hundreds of women auditioned, but nobody seemed right. Meanwhile, 32-year-old Karen Lynn Gorney was looking for her big break into show business. As fate would have it, she shared a cab with a stranger who turned out to be producer Robert Stigwood's nephew. He mentioned that his uncle was working on a movie, and Gorney replied, "Oh, am I in it?"— her standard joke whenever she heard about a film being made. The nephew wound up submitting Gorney as a candidate, and the rest is history. 

10. TRAVOLTA’S GIRLFRIEND DIED DURING FILMING.

John Travolta stars in Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Paramount Pictures

Travolta met Diana Hyland on the set of the TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, in which she played his mother. (She was 18 years older than him.) They had been dating for six months when Hyland succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 41, after filming just four episodes of her new gig on Eight Is Enough. Travolta was able to leave Saturday Night Fever and fly to L.A. in time to be with her before she died, then had to return to work. 

11. THE COMPOSER HAD TO SCRAMBLE TO REPLACE A NIXED SONG.

For Tony and Stephanie's rehearsal scene about 30 minutes into the movie, Badham had used the song "Lowdown" by Boz Scaggs, going so far as to shoot the scene, including the dialogue, with the song actually playing in the background. (That's usually a no-no, for exactly the reasons you're about to read about.) According to Badham, no sooner had they wrapped the scene than Scaggs' people reached out to say they couldn't use the song after all, as Scaggs was thinking of pursuing a disco project of his own. Badham now had to have the actors re-dub the dialogue (since the version he'd recorded was tainted by "Lowdown"); what's more, he had to find a new song that would fit the choreography and tempo of the dancing. Composer David Shire rose to the occasion, writing a piece of instrumental music that met the specifications, and that’s what we hear in the movie. 

12. THEY MADE UP A DANCE BECAUSE THE CHOREOGRAPHER DIDN'T SHOW UP.

In another rehearsal scene 55 minutes into the movie, Tony and Stephanie do the "tango hustle," which looks like a combination of both of those dances. This was something Travolta and Gorney invented as a matter of necessity: the film's choreographer didn't realize he was supposed to be on the set that day, and the actors didn't have any steps prepared. The tango hustle, alas, never quite caught on.  

13. TONY’S ICONIC WHITE SUIT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE BLACK.

Travolta and Badham both assumed Tony's disco outfit would be black, as men's suits tended to be at the time. Costume designer Patrizia Von Brandenstein convinced them it should be white, partly to symbolize the character's journey to enlightenment but also for practical reasons: a dark suit doesn't photograph very well in a dark discotheque. 

14. TONY’S SUIT WAS LATER SOLD FOR $2000—THEN FOR $145,500.

Von Brandenstein took Travolta to a cheap men's clothing store in Brooklyn (swamped by teenage fans, of course) and bought the suit off the rack—three identical suits, actually, so they wouldn't have to stop filming when one became soaked with Travolta's sweat. Two of the suits disappeared after the movie was finished; the remaining one, inscribed by Travolta, was bought at a charity auction in 1979 by film critic Gene Siskel, who cited Saturday Night Fever as one of his favorite movies. He paid about $2000 for it. In 1995, he sold it for $145,500 to an anonymous bidder through Christie's auction house.

In 2012, after a lengthy search, curators at London's Victoria and Albert Museum found the owner (who still preferred to remain anonymous) and persuaded him to lend it for an exhibit of Hollywood costumes. It is now presumably back in that man's care, whoever he may be. (P.S. Badham says on the 2002 DVD commentary that the suit is on display at the Smithsonian, a tidbit repeated by NPR in 2006 and Vanity Fair in 2007. But they must be mistaken. The suit’s sale in 1995 and rediscovery for the 2012 museum exhibit are verified facts; the suit isn't in the Smithsonian's online catalogue; and finally, a 2007 Washington Post story about the Smithsonian lists the suit as one of the items the museum director wanted to get.)

Additional sources:
John Badham DVD commentary
DVD featurettes

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