Kelsey Grammer and and Martin Lawrence walk into a courtroom ...
The premise that could very well be a TMZ story is actually the hook of the new FX comedy, "Partners," starring the two TV veterans. In the new series, which premieres Aug. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, the duo star as two Chicago lawyers who form an unlikely partnership after meeting in court.
Grammer understands that his teaming up with Lawrence seemed just as unlikely and confusing--that's part of the fun, he said.
"That's the genesis of it," he told The Times on Sunday during a party hosted by Fox/FX for the Television Critics Assn. press tour. "You couldn't get more disparate worlds and yet it's comedy gold. At least, that's what we hope it turns out to be."
Grammer has already begun trying to build buzz around the show -- that gag about him joining Twitter to fix people's grammar? A ploy to get chatter going.
"Honestly, the show spurred that," the 59-year-old actor said. "We thought, 'What's a cute way to step into Twitter and get a little attention for the show?' We're not talking down to anybody, we're just having fun."
The sitcom marks Grammer's return to comedy after a short turn as a devious Chicago mayor in the Starz drama "Boss." He's best known for his two-decade portrayal of psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on NBC's heavyweights "Cheers" and its spinoff "Frasier"; he followed up the latter with a short-lived comedy series on ABC and Fox before his "Boss" gig.
"One thing I thought was important was that 'Partners' be as smart as 'Frasier' was," Grammer said. "Martin and I are not Frasier and Niles on this show by any means. We're more like Oscar and Felix--but in a way that isn't tired. They use their brains in a more vicious way because they want to win cases."
Grammer describes his Allen Braddock as a "guy who doesn't care if he's doing the right thing."
"That's been a fun departure to explore in the comedy realm," Grammer said. "He is morally challenged on just about every level, except he's faithful to his wife and he tried to be a good father to his stepdaughter, even if it doesn't work."
"Partners" is the latest series from FX to come under the 10/90 model applied to Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management." Under the design, the network has ordered 10 episodes and if the series meets designated ratings thresholds in place for them, the network will order an additional 90 episodes.
"It's totally a different way of doing things," Grammer said. "But it's perfect for the way I love to work. I love to work fast. You know quickly if something's working and if something isn't--and that gives time to fix."
That's not to say it hasn't been a learning experience in the blending of two styles, Grammer said.
"Martin might like a little more rehearsal than I do," Grammer said. "I don't care to rehearse. I don't really like it. I think it makes him more confident and I'm learning that everyone has their own way of doing things. I've been doing this for years, and people have always been saying to me, 'holy ... , are we going to rehearse or not? and I say, 'Probably not.' I think he's discovered my process is not malevolent. It's just a little bit boyish. he's OK now."
But the real question, has Grammer seen an episode of Lawrence's trademark '90s comedy "Martin"?
"I have seen it," he said. "How can you not know Sheneneh? I can't do an impression of her, I'm not that gifted, but I know about it."
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