GQ celebrates ‘Cheers’ anniversary with lengthy story

Ted Danson, playing the role of bartender Sam Malone, keeps Rhea Perlman, playing waitress Carla Tortelli, under control as Shelley Long, portraying Diane Chambers, returns to the set of 'Cheers' during taping of the final episode of the popular series in this March 31, 1993 file photo. (AP Photo/File)
Shelley Long (left), Ted Danson, and Rhea Perlman on “Cheers’’ in 1993.

GQ is running a long oral history of “Cheers’’ in its October issue to celebrate the Boston-based sitcom’s 30th anniversary. Stars such as Shelley Long, Rhea Perlman, Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley, and John Ratzenberger, and producers and writers such as Glen Charles are among the list of folks who discuss the show’s ending, plot twists, romance, and casting choices. Charles says, in one of the more interesting tidbits, “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 mentality. At the time, there was a relief pitcher named Bill Lee, the ‘Spaceman.’ [A starter with the Sox, Lee relieved for the Expos in the early ’80s.] 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.’’

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