Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival honored Kelsey Grammer with the Career Achievement Award at the 48th Hugo Television Awards Ceremony on Thursday night, April 19. Chicago favorite and renowned actor in his own right, John Mahoney, paid tribute to Mr. Grammer, who then spoke to the crowd in a brief and moving acceptance speech, despite an unruly crowd.
I have interviewed many artists of the years, some of international acclaim and others still hoping to break through. They all speak of the forces that propel them in their work and Mr. Mahoney and Mr. Grammer, life-long and consummate professionals, both of whom have enjoyed fame over the years, broke through the E Entertainment aspect of the evening to touch on these quintessential points true to their artistic careers.
1. Hard work. Despite the glory and the glitz, there is no way around hard work; that unending process of honing in on your craft, and being vigilant about always refining your skills. Mahoney spoke of Grammer's relentless dedication on the set of Frazier and his perpetual attention to so many details in the production (and his love and talent for impersonations). One can easily see that Grammer is driven to the perfection and excellence of his craft through his long and acclaimed career.
2. Playing to the Top. This is a double-edged dagger. Mr. Mahoney spoke of Mr. Grammer's determination both to play to the height of his own potential, and to play to the height of the audience; to never dumb-down or go for the easy joke. The longevity and popularity of Frazier speaks to the power of this and to the power of Mr. Grammer's craft and skill.
3. Joy. My Grammer spoke of the joy that comes from creating and knowing that you are making a connection for people and with people. Over the many years of Frazier, he said that the resounding message that came back to him was one of love from the viewers and how the show had positively and sometimes dramatically influenced their lives. In addition, he mentioned his own sense of love for being a part of something that he knew created this goodwill and happiness for others, and how this fueled his continuous dedication to his work and his own love for his career and being a part of a larger whole. From here, the cycles of positivity and productiveness perpetuate and Grammer spoke of his triumph and blessings in a life of both hardship and grace.
Grammer is perhaps best known for his role as Frazier Crane in Cheers and Frazier. However, he also won the Golden Globe award for playing fictitious Mayor Tom Kane in Starz's new series Boss, and he continues to be the voice of Sideshow Bob (winning an Emmy in 2006) on The Simpsons. This would be enough for most artists, but Grammer has played many other roles on TV, in films and on stage, earning a Tony Nomination in 2010 for Best Performance as A Leading Actor in a Musical for his role as Georges in La Cage Aux Folles on Broadway. Again, most would stop here, but Grammer is also a director, executive producer and the creator of Grammnet, a production company that has produced countless TV shows, including the Emmy-winning Medium for NBC.
It was hard not to leap to one's feet clapping for such a long and illustrious career at the end of Mr. Grammer's short acceptance speech on Thursday night which was delivered with tenderness, grace and humility, as well as a few salient points regarding his artistic career. I am so proud to have him here in Chicago filming for the second season of Boss. Well done, Mr. Grammer. Standing ovation, indeed!