Picks and Pans Review: Spotlight On...
STARS AND BARS
THERE ARE PLENTY OF ACTORS, SUCH AS Mel Gibson and Robert Redford, who like to direct, and there's a clubful of comics, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Jerry Seinfeld, who have penned bestsellers. But did you know that a growing number of TV stars are writing and singing their shows' theme songs?
Listen carefully. Who is that scatting "Scrambled Eggs" as Frasier's end credits roll by? Yes, it's Kelsey Grammer. And who's that crooning "Eyes of a Ranger" on Walker, Texas Ranger? Indeed it's Chuck Norris, a man who claims to not even sing in the shower: Why do they do it? Norris, for one, says it all started when a songwriter-fan sent him a demo tape of "Eyes" that he liked. "I went to CBS," Norris says, "and asked, 'Who should sing it?' They said, 'How about you?' I thought, if that's the only way to get that dad-gum song on the show, I'll do it. It took 30 takes to do it right."
Shape up, Chuck. Cybill Shepherd needed only three takes to record "Nice Work if You Can Get It" for her hit series Cybill. Small wonder: "I've been singing that song for years," says Shepherd.
Even better-versed is Alan Thicke, star of Hope & Gloria, who has written or cowritten 45 themes—including the ones for Growing Pains and Diff'rent Strokes. Still, it's just a sideline; Thicke claims the royalties can be minuscule: "I think I get 11 cents whenever 'Diff'rent Strokes' plays in Singapore."
For Hudson Street star Tony Danza, crooning his show's theme, "Maybe Today's the Day," was its own reward. "I'm Italian," he says. "We're all singers. Just give me a microphone, a stool, a spotlight and a song."
Fuggedabowdit, says Mad About You's Paul Reiser, who cowrote his show's theme song, "The Final Frontier." "I never even thought about singing it," he says. "People deserve better."