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The Sitcom Sultan

Kelsey Grammer keeps riding the wave looking for ways to please his audience through TV, film and stage
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Kelsey Grammer, January/February 2013

(continued from page 5)

His divorces and remarriages have all served as media fodder, particularly his last one: Ex-wife Camille was filming episodes for the first season of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” even as their marriage was unraveling.

Grammer, however, seemingly shook it all off, says Heaton: “He wears his celebrity so lightly,” she notes. “When you’ve been through as much as he has, you know which stuff ultimately is not important. I really learned from that. He’s a very relaxed guy.”

Asked about the optimism implicit in marrying for a fourth time, Grammer smiles and says, “Ahh, yes, Samuel Johnson. But this has been a revelation about true love. I’ve spent more than half my adult life in search of love. Just when I was ready to quit, something came along and surprised me. Kayte has been a continuous revelation. I’ve had different lessons from the past but the one I’m living today is one where I am consciously present, attentive and honest about how I feel and connect. I admire my wife. I enjoy her. And I know she loves me.”

He’s similarly effusive about becoming a father again: “It’s hard to describe why it seems better this time,” he says. “It’s not that there was something missing in the past; all of my children are extraordinary. But I am in a real partnership in raising this child. I was not as hands-on in the past. We have no nannies; we take her everywhere. I prefer to live it that way. “It doesn’t seem like a different experience being a parent this time. But being present can make all the difference, day to day, morning to night, just being there. Quantity is quality for a child. I want to spend as much time as I can with all my kids.”

Which means attending to his own health. Grammer had a scare in 2008 when he had a heart attack in Hawaii, after the cancellation of “Back to You.”

“It meant a new landscape for my physical life,” Grammer says. “The pills and the working out—I’m focused on trying to stay in shape. All I could think when it happened was, ‘Don’t show me anything fancy—don’t show me the light. I’ve got things I need to do.’”

Grammer was nominated for a Tony Award when he starred in a Broadway revival of La Cage Aux Folles in 2010, and is eager to return to the stage, though he says that doing a Broadway musical “is like running a marathon every week.” He still has roles he’d like to play, though some of them are out of reach. “I’d love to play Hamlet but I’m too damn old,” he says with a laugh. “And I’d like to play King Lear, but I’ve still got 20 years to get to that. I’d love to do another musical and be back on Broadway. And I’d love to make one great film.”

One would assume that, after 20 years of playing Frasier Crane (reportedly earning more than $1 million per episode for the final few seasons as star and executive producer of “Frasier”) in two shows that perpetually yield residuals from syndication reruns, Grammer would not need to worry about earning a living; before his last divorce, his fortune was estimated to be in the $100-million range.

But Grammer quickly speaks up to debunk that notion. His divorce from Camille reportedly cost him $30 million. Past marriages and child support, as well as a lifestyle that includes two houses in Beverly Hills (one of which he’s trying to sell) and one in Malibu, a home in Hawaii and a ski lodge in Colorado, among others, require a breadwinner who keeps the machine oiled.

“When you produce at a certain level, you don’t have the option of not doing it,” Grammer says. “You need to keep feeding the beast. There are a lot of things in place that require me to keep working. “But I like to work. When I was a kid, I was inspired by John Smith at Jamestown, who said, ‘No work, no food.’ I think that’s the natural order of things. I just believe in it.”

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