If we didn't know better, we'd say Kelsey Grammer had an objection to the legal profession. How else to explain his new TNN series Gary the Rat, about a rodent who works as a Big Apple attorney. "I think anyone that's ever lived or worked in Hollywood has had a bad run-in with a lawyer," laughs the Frasier star, who voices the title character and serves as a producer. "Unfortunately, the stereotype about [lawyers] is not very favorable, so we thought we'd take advantage of that and use it for the good of entertainment."
Grammer's opinion of legal types was hardly enhanced by a New York judge's recent decision to grant filmmaker Spike Lee an injunction preventing TNN from renaming itself Spike TV. (Late yesterday, Lee settled, giving TNN permission to use the Spike TV name.) "I think it's ridiculous," scoffs the Emmy winner. "Obviously, it's gotten a little traction in Manhattan. If they ever take it to a court outside the five boroughs, people will think, 'Who is he kidding?'"
Airing Thursdays at 10:30 pm/ET as part of TNN's new animation block, Gary the Rat originated on the Web as a series of 13 three-minute shorts. The extended 30-minute format "allows us to be funnier and really establish character," says Grammer, who compares the popularity of Gary to a certain cartoonish TV shrink. "[Gary and Frasier] play up to the audience a little bit more; they're smart."
Speaking of Frasier, Grammer insists his long-running comedy will sign off next May after 11 years although NBC has yet to issue a final verdict. Meanwhile, the Cheers alum wouldn't rule out the possibility that some of the sitcom's supporting cast might follow in his footsteps and headline a spinoff of their own. "I suppose David Hyde Pierce and Jane Leeves could maybe have [their own show]," he says of the duo, who play Niles and Daphne. "But you'd have to come up with a whole new angle for them. Creatively, it's possible."