‘Frasier’ Reboot Found Its Showrunners Through a Twitter Feed by Writer Who Was ‘Basically Nobody’

Joe Cristalli’s involvement stemmed from a parody Twitter account he started after the original NBC sitcom went off the air

Kelsey Grammer in the 2023 reboot of Frasier
(Chris Haston/Paramount+)

Warning: This story contains spoilers for the Frasier revival on Paramount+

In 2004, “Frasier” bid farewell to audiences. But that didn’t stop Joe Cristalli (“Life in Pieces”) from pursuing a dream of writing for the NBC sitcom.

“I started a Twitter feed [called Frasier for Hire] that was all about getting a job to write on Frasier, which is obviously insane because the show had been off the air for 10 years,” Cristalli, who is now the co-creator, co-executive producer and co-showrunner for Paramount+’s revival, told TheWrap. “But I basically was just doing Frasier jokes, kind of like the Modern Seinfeld guy, just these are dialogue snippets of what would be on the show now. And I did that to no acclaim for like three years. I think I got somewhere in the ballpark of 2,000 followers.”

A door opened when star Kelsey Grammer revealed publicly that he was interested in doing a reboot of the show.

“I made my agent send that Twitter feed to his producers. Also, I obviously had a Frasier spec that I had just written because it was timely and people were asking for it. So I had her send the spec and the Twitter feed, which I will say to no acclaim,” Cristalli continued. “I thought they were pretty good, like there’s some good stuff in there, and they also saw that there was some good stuff because they brought me in for a meeting.”

However, Cristalli’s initial idea ended up being rejected.

“They very rightly said we’re not gonna give you the reins to Frasier. Who are you? You’re basically nobody,” he said. “So that’s when I called Chris [Harris] who’s been doing this a lot longer than I have and said I have an idea.”

Together, Cristalli and Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”) developed a new pitch, which Grammer and his producers landed on after rifling through 30 versions of other pitches.

“For the last like 5 or 6 years, we’ve basically been crafting the pitch and the script and getting it ready with obviously many thumps and stops and starts along the way,” Cristalli added.

When it came to stepping back into Frasier’s shoes, Grammer was adamant that a revival would need to answer the important question that would be on audiences’ mind: Why now?

“Even before we came along, [Kelsey Grammer] knew that the central reason was going to be his relationship with his son, much like the original series was about Frasier being the son of Martin … that was never in question,” Harris said. “One of the most glaring, interesting things about the original series was that they brought Freddie in about once a year for an episode but other than that, besides a few phone calls, you barely ever heard him. So this was an area where it felt like we had the most story to tell and there was a story to tell because Frasier, as you can imagine from the original series, envisions himself as a good father.”

But as Frasier learns in the revival’s pilot, “a lot’s been lacking,” Harris said.

“He hasn’t been the father that he envisioned himself as or hopes to be, especially in light of his own father’s passing which makes everything hit home a little bit more,” he added.

Jack Cutmore-Scott plays Freddy, who Cristalli describes as a “fun combination of Martin and Frasier.”

“He’s got this Ivy League pedigree but he’s also blue-collar,” he added. “When Frasier and Martin would jab at each other, Martin could give it right back to him, but not on the intellectual side that Freddy can. So he can stand toe to toe with his dad a little bit more on certain things. We always thought that it would be fun making Frasier more the patriarch but still being the one that’s getting needled the most.”

Jack Cutmore-Scott as Freddy Crane In Frasier, episode 1, season 1
Jack Cutmore-Scott as Freddy Crane (Chris Haston/Paramount+)

Another new character is Freddy’s roommate, Eve, played by Jess Salgueiro, who Harris said serves as a “really nice sounding board” that can go between Freddy and Frasier’s world, while also carrying her own “emotional heft.”

“They both need to feel comfortable expressing stuff they can’t express to the other person. Freddy is going to have something he wants to say to his dad that he’s only be able to say to Eve and vice versa with Frasier. So we needed somebody that felt really emotional at her core but also very breezy,” Harris explained. “Even though she’s ostensibly a stranger to Frasier, he feels comfortable opening up to her even in the pilot. So I think that’s a product of how good of an actress Jess is because her part just kept getting bigger as we did the pilot. She just kept evolving it and would add in stuff and she became so delightful. It’s like, ‘all right, she needs more space, we need to make more room for her’ and you feel it as the episodes go on.”

Jack Cutmore-Scott as Freddy Crane and Jess Salgueiro as Eve in Frasier
Jack Cutmore-Scott as Freddy and Jess Salgueiro as Eve (Chris Haston/Paramount+)

While the revival is notably missing Frasier’s brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce), it does include his and Daphe’s (Jane Leeves) son David (Anders Keith).

“We were not trying to do a 1 to 1 replacement. I think that will be an instinct to many people when they’re watching it to say ‘Oh, that’s a little bit Niles or that’s Daphne.’ I don’t think that would be fair to the old show or the new show but obviously that’s an instinct even in several of the reviews. You can feel people trying to find the old characters in the new,” Harris said. “Obviously, we see David as a hybrid of his two parents. He’s got a lot of the neuroses of Niles. He’s got a lot of the empathy and humanity of Daphne and he’s also his own character.”

Harris noted that David is “not fully formed yet.”

“We talked about him almost being not quite at the adult stage of his metamorphosis yet because he’s a college freshman. So this is someone who’s awkward in his own body and not quite sure who he is yet,” he continued. “And we definitely have had fun seeing glimpses of his father, glimpses of his mother, but we ultimately want him to feel like his own character.”

Kelsey Grammer as Frasier Crane, Anders Keith as David and Jack Cutmore-Scott as Freddy Crane
Anders Keith as David (Chris Haston/Paramount+)

In addition to Cristalli, Harris and Grammer, the “Frasier” revival is executive produced by Tom Russo and Jordan McMahon. The series is produced by CBS Studios, in association with Grammer’s Grammnet NH Productions.

The first two episodes are directed by James Burrows, a legendary TV director known for his work as co-creator, executive producer and director of “Cheers,” the original “Frasier,” “Will & Grace” and “Friends.” 

The first three episodes of Paramount+’s “Frasier” are available to stream now, with new episodes premiering every Thursday.

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