The directors of big shows like “Friends,” “Will & Grace,” and “Cheers” have uncovered some of the biggest secrets on set.
Jon Claire was almost cast as Chandler Bean in ‘Friends’, but FedEx ruined his shot.
This pretty pink The star recorded an audition in London and arranged for an overnight trip to Los Angeles. But, as TV director James Burrows reveals in his new book, the carrier lost the package and the producers never even saw Claire audition — clearing the way for Matthew Perry’s casting.
This is just one of the stories Director James Burrows, released on June 7, tells the story of the TV guru’s six-year TV career.He has directed over 50 pilots and has been associated with some of the greatest sitcoms of all time, including friends, will and grace, taxi and cheerswhich he co-created.
Here are some of the most surprising stories in the book:
Burrows had to convince David Schwimmer to play the role of Ross Geller, which was written specifically for him.
“David initially refused friends work because he was going through a tragic experience on another show,” Burrows revealed of the actor, who previously worked in Monty with Henry Winkler.
“He was hesitant to commit to a tenure of at least five years, which all sitcom actors have to do… He was concerned that the show would not be collaborative and that his ideas would not be welcomed. We assure him that this kind of The experience will be different and it will be an ensemble.”
To help build camaraderie between the sextets, Burrows borrowed a Warner Bros. business jet to bring the then-unknown actor to Las Vegas for a while.
Burrows was convinced the show would be a hit, telling them: “This is the last time you’ll be anonymous. Once the show airs, you’ll never be able to go anywhere without being hunted down.” “They didn’t believe me, “He says. “They didn’t have any money either, so I gave each of them a few hundred bucks to gamble.
“I spent $1400. If the math doesn’t seem right, it’s because LeBlanc doesn’t know how to play craps and he loses $200 in seconds, so I give him another $200. They go back to LA , the show premiered, they’ve never been anonymous since, and they each wrote reimbursement checks for the money I gave them.”
‘LaVine and Shirley’
Burrows wrote that there has been “tension” between co-stars Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams “from the beginning.” Penny is the sister of Garry, the show’s creator and producer, as well as their father, Anthony, and sister, Ronny – which apparently makes Williams feel like a strange woman.
“Cindy felt the show was too Marshall-heavy and she counted how many lines she was assigned to deal with Penny,” Burrows wrote. “The two started having issues and it went public. When I was on set, my fans and all the writing staff I loved got fired.”
Burrows was impressed by the surreal comedian Andy Kaufman who played the gentle mechanic Latka. At one point, Kaufman’s alter ego, Tony Clifton — a vulgar casual singer character — was scheduled to appear in an episode before the producers thought it better.
When they let Kaufman’s manager know, he said it was fine, but “Tony” insisted he had to be “fired in front of everyone, with a whore on every knee,” according to the book.
“Tony” didn’t get fired well and started yelling, “a big fight ensued and everyone was yelling.” Burrows wrote that co-stars Tony Danza and Judd Hirsch loved it, but Jeff Conaway was annoyed by Kaufman’s theatrical performance.
Burrows also revealed that Danny DeVito found a way to earn extra money on set while playing the grumpy taxi dispatcher Louie De Palma.
“Danny developed a small handicraft industry, taking bribes from companies, including me, to reveal when the names of family and friends would be released. [his character] Taxis are being dispatched,” he wrote. “He has a nice side business. “
Meanwhile, Danza is known on the soundstage as a rogue – stealing the security’s golf cart and “Fonzie’s motorcycle.” happy time put”.
Burrows wrote that on the first season of the show about the Boston bar, they tried to grab a legend as a guest: Lucille Ball as Diane Chambers (Shelley Lang)’s mother. Burrows and Charles’ brother went to the star’s home in Beverly Hills to discuss the role.
“[We] Sitting in the living room with Lucy and her second husband, Gary Morton, who got married after her divorce from Desi Arnaz,” Burrows recalls.
“We pitched the idea to her. Gary interjected. Lucy interrupted, “Gary, remember where you are. When we left her house, we tried to determine if Lucy meant “remember where you were in that story” or “remember where you were before you married me.”
Either way, “Lucy Rejected Us,” the role was played by British actress Glynice Johns.
Meanwhile, the character Fraser Crane, played by Kelsey Grammer, was supposed to only appear in four episodes.
But the moment they saw Grammer’s face on the audition tape, “we all started laughing… He drove out of New York and lived in his car in the Paramount parking lot for a while.” The actor eventually ended up laughing. Playing this role for nearly 20 years, in both fields cheers And his own show, Fraser.
When Woody Harrelson was cast as the lovable but goofy bartender Woody Boyd, he was largely unknown. Burrows recalls how the joie de vivre of the actor’s youthful life reinvigorated the cast after Nicholas Colasanto, who played pub owner Coach, died of a heart attack.
“Woody brought foosball, water guns and saliva balls to the set, turning middle-aged actors into funny monsters chasing each other…” Burrows wrote. “That actor is uninhibited.”
Burrows wrote that he once asked Harrelson if he could skip the bar instead of walking around it.He was able to” this became a seminal moment for the character and the performance. He did it so cutely that it angered everyone else, especially Teddy. Period
During the rehearsal, Teddy tried to jump over the railing. It’s not a good time for both Ted and the bar. “
Jay Thomas was a stand-up comedian and disc jockey when he played Boston Bruins goalie Eddie LeBec in “Cheers,” and had a crush on waitress Cara Totley (Riya Pablo). Mann) developed a love affair. When a caller on his radio show asked him how he was feeling on “Cheers” one day, Thomas replied: “It’s brutal. I have to kiss Rhea Perlman.
“That’s it. He insulted Rhea, which means he insulted us all,” Burrows wrote. “He traveled through the family. Jay was unceremoniously fired. Since he was no longer on the show, Eddie had to go too. In our world, you don’t sleep with fish; you die one A violent and comic death.”
Writers cast Eddie as a penguin in a traveling ice show when he was killed by a slow-moving Zamboni machine.
“The Bob Newhart Show”
Burrows revealed that when he piloted “The Bob Newhart Show” in 1972, they found it a little too long. A producer approached the comedian and said, “Bob, can you stutter a little less?” Newhart’s response was, “That stutterer paid for my house in Beverly Hills.”
“Will and Grace”
Burrows revealed that it came down to Sean Hayes and Alexis Arquette as Jack McFarland.
“Jack is based on a man in New York who slept with everyone,” he wrote. “By choosing Sean who looked rather innocent and sweet, we didn’t go to the dark side, so the character became more appealing.
Bob Odenkirk had signed on to play Grace’s boyfriend Nathan — but seeing the “Better Call Saul” star on the first table is over. At the time, the actor was best known for the hit drama “Mr.” The show,” and producers worried he wouldn’t be able to perform, so Woody Harrelson took the role. Years later, Oden Kirk told Burrows that he and his wife had just had a baby at the time and that he was exhausted .
In recent years, Burrows has added a “fun clause” to every sitcom contract he’s signed, allowing him to unilaterally quit a project if he doesn’t like himself. It’s only been used once, on NBC’s short-lived “Men Are Underperforming.”
It’s based on a British show about two sweet men who do terrible things. Burrows explained that the original show worked because the main characters were so lovable that the audience forgave them for their bad behavior. But, he added, the US version’s first mistake was hiring “Saturday Night Live” alum Rob Schneider — who “was neither sweet nor knew how to play a sweet character, so it became a A show where vicious guys do vicious things.
“No one can relate to it. Rob and Ron [Eldard, his co-star] Never been on. Sometimes, producers would say, ‘Rob is in his trailer, he’s not going to come out. Can you talk to him? The vitriol got so bad that during the taping, in front of the audience, the actors ‘walked through the show’ and said their lines without emotion,” Burrows wrote. No replaces Ron, but people find it very difficult to work with Rob. I am done. “
For him, Burrows says in the book, the fun lies in a harmonious work environment, not yelling or tantrums.
“I still believe that in business and art, kindness is the most important currency you can trade…I believe my success is due to the way I make everyone on the lifeboat feel like they’re keeping everyone else alive.”
This article originally appeared on New York Post and reproduced with permission.