Northwest Passage: Celebrating 'Frasier''s 100th episode
Ah, September in Seattle. Crisp sea breezes. Hilly streets stained with dew. The bustle of coffee drinkers and fishmongers. It’s the perfect backdrop for a classic Frasier scene — except this one won’t end up on NBC.
On a drizzly afternoon (what, you were expecting the sun?) the cast of the popular psych com is being shuttled to Westlake Park to meet 3,000 crazed fans who have come to cheer the stars as Mayor Norm Rice decrees this Frasier Day. Suddenly, the euphoria on the bus screeches to a halt. Someone has realized that a rather key player is missing: Dr. Frasier Crane himself, Kelsey Grammer. ”So he’s not going to make the rally,” observes David Hyde Pierce, in a tone as dry as that of his snippy shrink, Niles. ”Oh, that’s too funny.”
If not a little too ironic. This turn of events could have been ripped from the show that the cast traveled from L.A. to shoot. In the 100th episode, airing Nov. 11, a typically juicy comedy of errors ensues when Frasier tries to get to a public rally in his honor hosted by, get this, the mayor! ”I can’t believe it,” Grammer later faux-fumes after being rescued at his hotel. ”You people were going to leave me behind. Mean, mean, mean!”
Actually, Grammer isn’t the only one chasing after the Frasier bandwagon, which is only picking up speed with age: The show recently smashed a record by winning the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy all four years it has aired; it resides in Nielsen’s top 10 (up 4 million viewers to No. 8; last season it was 22); and its September launch into syndication (earning the show’s studio, Paramount, about $3 million per episode) has made it the highest-rated new show in repeats this season.
Seattlites seem thrilled with the attention the show has brought to their burg; they also seem in a mighty-forgiving mood: After all, the cast had never traveled here, until now, to film an episode on location. Hordes of gawkers and autograph seekers attended the three-day shoot at some of the city’s familiar tourist sites (Pike Place Market, the Space Needle). Mayor Rice even insisted that the Frasier visit was ”more exciting than when Sleepless in Seattle came here!” Says Pierce, ”This is the first time I’ve ever really felt like Madonna.”
But neither Pierce nor Grammer attracted the most adulation. It was the scrappy Jack Russell terrier named Moose (Eddie) who garnered the loudest squeals as he hung his head outside his limo’s window. That’s right, the dog got a limo. Sighs Dan Butler, the actor behind pugnacious Bulldog, ”We’ll all be signing autographs, but as soon as they see Moose, it’s like, ‘Get out of our way! We want the dog!”’ What’s that famous saying about never working with kids and animals?