"With Hank, nobody really liked that, and it wasn't very funny," Grammer, 56, told reporters with a chuckle at the Television Critics Association conference Friday to promote the upcoming Starz political drama Boss. "So we thought we'd do something different."
Grammer said he had a bad feeling about Hank early on, but remained optimistic that the show could be nurtured and find "a nice groove." According to him, the ABC series' biggest problem was that "we didn't have people in place that could expand on what was basically one idea."
Grammer says he wasn't afraid to pull the trigger himself and call the president of Warner Bros. Television (which produced the show), when he realized that problem couldn't be reversed. "I said, 'Peter [Roth], how 'bout we put a bullet in this thing?'" Grammer recalled. "And we did about three days later. It was dead on arrival."
What might have been a touchy subject for some actors — the cancellation of a network series — was anything but for Grammer, who laughed about the show's quick demise after five episodes. Looking back, Grammer attributes the failure of Hank, and his 2008 heart attack, to his latest "remarkable" chapter. "After my heart attack, which was three years ago, I spent the next several months looking at my own life. I just decided I didn't want to have that story be my last story. So I decided to make changes in my career and my personal life," Grammer said, also referencing his much-publicized divorce from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Camille Grammer after 14 years of marriage.
"[Hank] was the catalyst for the most extraordinary journey of my life on a professional and personal level."
Boss stars Grammer as Tom Kane, the mayor of Chicago who learns he is suffering from a degenerative brain disorder and only has years to live in the midst of his gubernatorial campaign. The political drama is a stretch from his Frasier days, but Grammer says the transition to drama was a natural one since he started out in classic theater. "It's always been in my mind to play a more serious role," he said. "That was my first love you might say."
Despite Grammer's now less-than-stellar track record in the wake of Hank, Boss creator and executive producer Farhad Safinia believes the new series will make viewers forget the past. "I think when people watch the first episode, the first opening shot, I just think it's going to wipe that slate clean," he said. "I think Kelsey's performance in this show is mesmerizing."
Boss premieres this fall on Starz.