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Sam Malone: He's a Magnificent Pagan Beast

I just edited the title to using caps, because other than that, it's perfect!

 

I follow Ken Levine, absolutely LOVE his blog, but I hadn't seen this one yet, so thanks for the direction!  Peeps, if you want to follow a blog with hella good information about the writers end of things, Ken Levine is the one of the best blogs out there.  He has been around the writing circuit for decades. 

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Nice blog piece by Ken Levine.  I understand Ted Danson thinking that Sam Malone would not wear well as he aged.  I think the character had already reached that point in the final seasons. 

 

I also think Shelley Long deserves a lot of credit for making Danson a better actor.  They may have had chemistry in their try-outs, but I think there are instances early in S1 where she really carries the load and he's a step or two behind.  He did catch up, thank goodness -- the later episodes of season 1 are among the best comedy ever on TV, IMO.

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Nice retrospective piece in GQ with interview snippets:
 

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Danson: It took me at least two years to feel, "Oh. I know how to play this now. I get it." Because there was an ease and an arrogance to Sam, and I was not a womanizer; I didn't date a lot. If I kissed somebody, I was basically married from that point on. [But] I maintain that I got Sam because I was teamed with Shelley. She was really unique. You can't imagine anyone else playing Diane. She was Diane.

 

 

In case you didn't know, three actress/actor teams were considered for the parts of Sam and Diane.

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The first parts to be cast were reformed alcoholic and unrepentant babe hound Sam Malone—who was originally conceived as a "Stanley Kowalski type"—and Diane Chambers, the newly dumped know-it-all who, in the pilot, is reduced to waiting tables at Cheers. Burrows and the Charles' brothers subjected the finalists—Shelley Long, Ted Danson, former football player Fred Dryer (Hunter), William Devane (Knots Landing), Julia Duffy (Newhart) and film actress Lisa Eichhorn—to a grueling month of auditions, with Long and Danson the ultimate winners.

Of course, Fred Dryer and Julia Duffy both made guest appearances in Cheers' first season before going on to long runs in Hunter and Newhart, respectively.   Dryer even came back a few times as sportscaster Dave.  I've never found William Devane remotely attractive and can't even picture Lisa Eichhorn.

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I recall reading somewhere that Sam was also originally envisioned as a former football - not baseball - player. So I'm not surprised that Fred Dryer tried out, having played for the NY Giants and L.A. Rams. I read the sport was changed to baseball after Danson was cast.

I guess no one could see Ted's Sam as a former football star.

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Yes, Sam was supposed to have played for the Patriots. The Charles brothers also mentioned that Fred Dryer was funny but they didn't feel he could have handled the acting job week after week, and of course, after seeing the chemistry between Ted and Shelley, they felt they had to go with them.

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10 hours ago, WendyCR72 said:

I recall reading somewhere that Sam was also originally envisioned as a former football - not baseball - player. So I'm not surprised that Fred Dryer tried out, having played for the NY Giants and L.A. Rams. I read the sport was changed to baseball after Danson was cast.

I guess no one could see Ted's Sam as a former football star.

That's right in the article I linked to above:
 

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Glen Charles: Shelley was everybody's choice right away, but there was controversy about Ted. He was clearly not a football player, and not only physically. He didn't bring that attitude, that mentality. At the time, there was a [Red Sox] relief pitcher named Bill Lee, the "Spaceman." He was kind of nuts, as we found out a lot of relievers are. So [changing Sam's profession] gave us a very offbeat athlete—one with a lot of intelligence. He wasn't the sloth that scratches his armpits, which had been our original impulse. It made his treatment of Diane early on kind of intentional: He was trying to bug the hell out of her.

 

 

Though it didn't take them long to dumb Sam down considerably.

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I have to admit, I can't imagine how Cheers would have gone with football as Sam's past career. I liked the baseball/Red Sox aspect of the show -- it's the reason I became a Red Sox fan.

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Baseball has more, hmm, what's the word--"romanticism." You can wax poetic about baseball, it's associated with long, hot summer days and there is a romantic aspect to that. I can't even picture the show if Sam had been a football player.

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