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Star of ‘Frasier’ Leaves for Rehab : Kelsey Grammer’s Departure Forces Emmy-Winning Sitcom Into Hiatus

TIMES STAFF WRITER

“Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer is checking himself into the Betty Ford Center for treatment of substance abuse--an action that will delay production of his Emmy Award-winning NBC series.

It remains unclear what the production delay will mean for the program, which has won the Emmy as best comedy series three consecutive years and just began its fourth season. Two new episodes of “Frasier” have aired thus far, and the network indicated that two or three others have been completed. The show airs in one of the most competitive time periods on television, against ABC’s ratings powerhouse “Home Improvement.”

In any case, NBC is scheduled to preempt its Tuesday lineup for at least two--possibly three--consecutive weeks beginning next week while the network televises major league baseball playoff games.

An extended delay in production, however, could mean that the network might have to offer other programming or “Frasier” repeats during the November ratings sweeps--a key period to network affiliates, since results that month are used to determine local advertising rates.

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Grammer’s decision follows a single-car accident Saturday evening in which the actor crashed his Dodge Viper near Mulholland Highway in the unincorporated Malibu Lake area.

Grammer, 40, took a blood-alcohol test that night, and the California Highway Patrol initially recommended that he be charged with drunk driving. A spokeswoman in the district attorney’s office said Wednesday there was no word yet on test results or whether the actor would be charged.

Paramount Television, which produces “Frasier,” issued a statement Wednesday that read, “Earlier this week, actor Kelsey Grammer was involved in an automobile accident in which he sustained minor injuries. As a result, he has postponed a planned trip to New York and an appearance at the Friars Club. Mr. Grammer has voluntarily admitted himself to the Betty Ford Center. ‘Frasier’ is currently on hiatus and will resume production in October.”

Grammer sustained cuts on his head in the accident. No other passengers or vehicles were involved, and Paramount initially said Tuesday that he would recuperate at home.

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The Betty Ford Center is located in Rancho Mirage and normally puts its patients through a four-week program. The studio’s statement said Paramount, NBC and Grammer’s friends “support his decision and wish him a speedy recovery.”

Grammer is a two-time Emmy winner as lead actor in a sitcom for “Frasier,” which was spun off from NBC’s long-running comedy “Cheers.” The star has been plagued, however, by off-screen turmoil, including admitted substance abuse, two divorces, a defamation suit filed by an ex-girlfriend and a New Jersey grand jury investigation into a teenager’s allegations of sexual misconduct, which failed to produce an indictment.

Grammer’s sports car was a gift from NBC as a reward for “Frasier’s” success.


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