'Everybody Hates Chris' Brushes Up on its Grammer


Although he's executive producer of two shows on The CW -- "Girlfriends" and its spin-off, "The Game" -- former "Frasier" star Kelsey Grammer is doing a bit of moonlighting as director of the second-season finale of yet another CW comedy, "Everybody Hates Chris," based on the childhood experiences of comedian Chris Rock.

"I was actually going to do some shows on 'The Game' and a couple of 'Girlfriends,'" Grammer says, "but something came up this year, and I couldn't get to a lot of directing. I'm not the boss on 'Everybody Hates Chris,' I'm just a freelance director."

In "Everybody Hates the Last Day," airing Monday, May 14, with the end of the school year approaching, Chris (Tyler James Williams) plots revenge against his classmate and nemesis, Caruso (Travis Flory), who's tortured him for the last two years.

Meanwhile, Chris' parsimonious father, Julius (Terry Crews), insists on fixing Mr. Omar's (Ernest Thomas) clogged sink instead of calling an expensive plumber, but disaster ensues. And, Chris' graduating brother, Drew (Tequan Richmond), runs around in his cap and gown over his mother's (Tichina Arnold) objections.

Asked if the cast and crew were thrilled to have him there, Grammer says, "I believe they were. In fact, I've been on television for a long time, and it apparently has been noticed by some people in my profession, so there was an atmosphere of respect and welcoming and a very collaborative spirit when I first got there.

"I don't think it's atypical, though. These guys are really good at what they do, very intelligent."

In particular, Grammer was impressed with series co-creator (with Rock) Ali LeRoi, saying, "I think Ali is certainly one of the better writers I've ever worked with. He's open to suggestion, which is great. I've dealt with different kinds of people throughout my life, different styles of writers or producers, and he is as quick on his feet as anybody I've ever worked with, and I've worked with some good ones.

"He is just plain funny. He gets funny, that's what it is, and he's willing to throw away stuff that isn't working. It's a real pleasure to work with him."

Apparently, one of Chris' plots for revenge involves a few dozen cats, but it wasn't as many as Grammer might have wanted.

"The only thing I regret in my show is there weren't more cats. I just wish they'd hired more cats, because then I was going to rip off a shot from 'The Shining,' having them spill out from the sides in the hall. We didn't have enough money to go ahead and computer-generate the whole thing."

In the past, youngsters had TV moms and dads they could look to as role models, whether it was Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham from "Happy Days," Charles and Caroline Ingalls on "Little House on the Prairie," the Huxtables of "The Cosby Show," the Abbotts of "Everwood" or the Rev. and Mrs. Camden on "7th Heaven."

Grammer appreciates that "Everybody Hates Chris" is another show that features a flawed but loving family.

"Isn't that nice?" he says. "I don't know what your value system is, but I didn't come from an intact nuclear family, but I also always wish I had. My wife and I are doing our damndest to make sure our kids have it. I think it's a value, and it's positive. I love how they've outlined and, I guess, commemorated the power of that mother and the power of that father.

"They are tough, and they're in love with their kids. They love each other. It's a wonderful thing."

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