Kelsey: Goodbye Frasier, Hello Max?

01/14/2004 6:41PM

As the old entertainer Jimmy Durante used to say, "Everybody wants to get into the act." These days, the act everyone seems to want to get into is the Mel Brooks Broadway show "The Producers."

Not only have original stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick returned to the show -- and set box-office records by doing it -- but the current (fictitious) storyline on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has Larry David and Ben Stiller preparing to step into the roles of boisterous and crooked theatrical producer Max Bialystock and his meek accountant co-conspirator Leo Bloom.

But now, says The New York Times, the next star to play Max -- for real -- is likely to be Kelsey Grammer, who thanks to an NBC announcement earlier this week is about to be out of a $1.6-million-per-epsiode job as the star of "Frasier," which has been canceled. (The show will fold its tent in May, after 11 years.)

The producers of "The Producers" confirmed to The Times on Tuesday that they are in talks with Grammer, 48, to replace Nathan Lane when Lane and Broderick complete their scheduled 14-week return engagements on April 4. (No word on Broderick's replacement, but David Hyde Pierce, who plays Frasier Crane's brother on "Frasier," would seem ideal, if a bit obvious.)

If Grammer clicks as Max, it should alleviate the bitter taste left by his last appearance on Broadway, in the title role of a 2000 production of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" that was all but laughed off the stage. The critics sensed too much of the pompous Seattle psychiatrist in the murderous Scottish king.

The production lasted 10 days.

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