In "Cheers" oral history, Danson describes a harrowing trip to Catalina
Starring on the classic sitcom "Cheers" brought lots of joy to Ted Danson — but ditching work once led to what he calls "the worst day of my life."
In a fantastic oral history of the NBC series in the new GQ, Danson says he once played hooky with Woody Harrelson, George Wendt, and John Ratzenberger.
"Shelley [Long] and Rhea [Perlman] were carrying that week’s episode, and the guys were just, ‘Let’s play hooky.’ We’d never done anything wrong before. John had a boat, so we met at Marina del Rey at 8 A.M. We all called in sick, and Jimmy [producer James Burrows] caught on and was so pissed."
"Woody and I were already stoned, and Woody said, ‘You want to try some mushrooms?’ I’d never had them, so I’m handed this bag and I took a fistful," Danson continued. "On our way to Catalina, we hit the tail end of a hurricane, and even people who were sober were getting sick. Woody and I thought we were going to die for three hours. I sat next to George, and every sixty seconds or so he’d poke me and go, ‘Breathe.’ And I’d come back to life.”
Danson and Harrelson weren't the only ones who overindulged, according to producer Dan Shannon, now an executive producer on "Modern Family." He said Kelsey Grammer would "ooze into the studio, his life all out of sorts."
"Jimmy would say ‘Action,’ and he would snap into Frasier and expound in this very erudite dialogue and be pitch-perfect," Shannon said. "And Jimmy would yell ‘Cut!’ and he would ooze back into Kelsey — glazed-over eyes, half asleep, going through whatever he was going through. It was the most amazing transformation I’ve ever seen.”
Long also talked to the magazine about how the show kept the will-they-or-won't-they dynamic alive between her character, Diane, and Danson's Sam.
"Our audience was so tuned in to every move, because the flirting between Sam and Diane during the first season was totally outrageous," she said. "There was talk about 'Would it be right to advance the relationship, or could that condemn the relationship?' I put my two cents in — big surprise — and said, 'In a real relationship, you take two steps forward, one step back. So just because we take two steps forward and get all the benefit from that doesn't mean we can't go back or to the side.' Ultimately, that's what worked."