In a deal that makes him the highest-salaried actor in TV history, “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer has agreed to stay with the hit Paramount Network Television laffer through 2004 at a record fee north of $1.6 million per episode.
Grammer and Par are close to finalizing details of the pact, but industry insiders peg its value at roughly $75 million. Deal covers 48 episodes during the show’s 10th and 11th season; Grammer was already locked in for the show’s ninth season, which begins this fall.
As part of the agreement, Par will also extend its overall deal with Grammer’s production shingle, Grammnet Prods. Grammnet last season successfully launched the UPN laffer “Girlfriends.”
A Par spokesman, Grammer’s reps at UTA and his lawyer declined to comment or confirm any details of the new deal, respecting Grammer’s oft-voiced wish to have his salary remain private. Deal has also not yet been signed, meaning there’s still a chance for some last-minute minor adjustments.
Meanwhile, insiders said Par is also working on a new long-term deal for “Frasier” star David Hyde Pierce, expected to be closed soon.
The Par-Grammer deal comes three months after NBC and Par pacted to keep “Frasier” on the Peacock through May 2004. Web agreed to shell out roughly $5.2 million per episode (Daily Variety, March 7).
That deal means “Frasier” will match the 11-year run of its creative predecessor, “Cheers.” It also means Grammer will have played Dr. Frasier Crane for nearly two decades.
With Par bringing in more than $374 million from NBC, and millions more in syndie revenue, the studio will still net plenty of profit from “Frasier,” despite the big salary bump.
Grammer’s roughly $1.6 million salary may also be augmented by an advance on his portion of “Frasier’s” syndie revenue, according to an industry insider.
At any rate, Grammer is now clearly TV’s all-time salary leader.
Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen and “Mad About You’s” Paul Reiser and Helen hunt all commanded paydays just north of $1 million in their final seasons of their skeins. The six members of the cast of “Friends” each receive a $750,000 per seg paycheck from Warner Bros. TV, and Drew Carey has just inked a new pact worth the same $750,000 per-seg fee (plus additional backend coin).
While Grammer now boasts TV’s biggest salary, Seinfeld made more from his run on “Seinfeld.” The reason: As co-creator of the series, he was able to command a far bigger chunk of his show’s syndie backend. “Seinfeld” also remains the all-time syndie revenue champ, with revenues in excess of $2 billion.