The latest episode of Paramount+’s “Frasier,” entitled “Blind Date,” followed as Kelsey Grammer’s titular character competed with his son Freddy (Jack Cutmore-Scott) for the affections of a woman named June (June Diane Raphael) in a 22-page-long scene.
Director Kelly Park told TheWrap that filming the sequence was “one of the highlights” of her career.
“It really allowed me to prove to myself that I am a technical director,” she said. “Kelsey Grammer was wonderful because he collaborated with me and was with me all the way. It was really divine… they just let me play, let me create, and allowed me to delve into what Frasier used to be and bring it back home.”
But directing a multi-camera comedy in front of a live studio audience is no easy feat.
“In the multi-cam world, traditionally what we do is we have two days of taping. There’s a full taping dedicated to taping certain scenes and then you have a live studio audience,” she explained. “With ‘Frasier,’ we do camera blocking on one day and we’re not filming anything and then we wait for the live studio audience to actually shoot everything. So that’s challenging.”
For Park, pulling off the episode was all about pre-planning as much as possible ahead of the live studio audience.
“You have to make sure that your camera crew and your cast is all in sync. It’s all about timing. So really taking that time with your crew and the cameras and setting everything up just right, because once we’re live, we’re live baby,” she said. “You had to be on your A-game all the way. It was a wonderful experience”
Episode 6’s dynamic between Frasier and Freddy was inspired by the lead character’s competition with his father Martin Crane (John Mahoney) for the affections of Ronee Lawrence, portrayed by Wendie Malick, in the original NBC sitcom.
“They just absolutely nailed it. I remember Jack saying he didn’t want to push it too far where he was imitating or mimicking anyone. So he just created his own energy and his own vibe and he was brilliant at it,” Park said. “Kelsey Grammer was so kind and generous with his time and he respected me, and I really, really love that. I can’t wait to do more.”
Park fondly refers to Episode 6 as her “Jimmy Burrows episode,” adding that the “Cheers,” “Frasier” and “Will and Grace” co-creator and director is the greatest of all time. In addition to the original “Frasier,” Burrows directed the pilot and second episode of the Paramount+ revival.
“When I met Jimmy, I had his book in my backpack, ‘Directed by James Burrows,’ and I was like, ‘I’m going to have this wonderful man sign my book,’” she said. “So I walk up to him and say ‘Jimmy’ and he’s like ‘Kelly Park’ and he knew my name, which was amazing. He opens the book and he signs and then it says ‘Kelly, my shoes are not too big.’”
She said Burrows’ message inspired her to continue on her path as a director.
“I’ve got to keep doing this because I’ve got to fit into Jimmy’s shoes,” she joked.
When asked what she hopes audiences take away from the revival, Park said she wants people to “remember how funny and hilarious the original show was.”
“I want them to embrace this guy, that is in his third act, and be on this journey with him again,” she said. “It’s about dealing with family members, about change, about trying to grow,” she said. “It’s so relatable… we all have the same issues and I think people can really connect to it.”
The “Frasier” revival is executive produced by Grammer, Joe Cristalli, Chris Harris, Tom Russo and Jordan McMahon. The series is produced by CBS Studios, in association with Grammer’s Grammnet NH Productions.
New episodes of “Frasier” are released Thursdays on Paramount+.
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