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Fox picks up Grammer sketch comedy

The network also renewed ‘Arrested Development’ and announced its new series.
/ Source: Reuters

It didn’t take long for former “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer to find a new role to play on television.

One week after Grammer shed his 20-year TV persona as neurotic psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on the finale of his NBC sitcom, the Fox network said Wednesday it has picked up a new sketch comedy co-produced and hosted by Grammer for next season.

A Fox Broadcasting Co. spokesman said the News Corp. Ltd.-owned network had ordered six episodes of “The Kelsey Grammer Sketch Show,” an American version of a British program from the ITV network.

At the same time, Fox said it has bestowed a one-year renewal on its quirky freshman comedy “Arrested Development,” which emerged as the biggest critical darling of the current season while struggling in the ratings.

Other new shows picked up for the coming season include the blended-family sitcom “Related by Family,” reality show “The Partner” (a kind of legal version of NBC’s “The Apprentice”) and three fresh dramas — undercover cop show “The Inside,” action adventure “Jonny Zero” and medical series “House.”

Fox will reveal the launch dates for those shows and others on Thursday when it unveils its 2004-05 programming schedule for advertisers in New York.

The network previously announced plans to roll out “The Next Great Champ,” a boxing reality show similar to NBC’s upcoming “The Contender,” and the globe-trotting series “Branson’s Big Adventure,” featuring flamboyant billionaire Richard Branson.

Except for a half dozen shows already set for a June launch, Fox is expected to debut most of its new offerings in November and January. Fox adopted this staggered approach because its coverage of the Major League Baseball playoffs and World Series falls in the middle of the traditional fall TV premiere season.

Details of Grammer’s sketch comedy show remained, well, sketchy. But Fox said the actor will serve as its host, with performances delivered primarily by an ensemble of players, much the way comedian Drew Carey presided over his improvisational comedy show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” on ABC.

It was just last Thursday that Dr. Frasier Crane bid a final “Goodnight Seattle” to end the celebrated 11-year run of “Frasier” on NBC.

Grammer’s character, introduced on “Cheers” in 1984, tied the record for the longest-running role portrayed by a single actor in prime time, first set in 1975 by James Arness as Matt Dillon on the CBS western “Gunsmoke.”

At one point, Grammer clinched a reported salary of $1.6 million per episode in a renewal deal that for a time made him the highest-paid sitcom star on television.