Harris: Joining us now on the guest line is the man you’ve known for many years as Sam Malone on Cheers and now one of the co-stars of Ink, Monday nights on the CBS television network. Here’s Ted Danson…good morning, Ted!
Danson: Well hello, how are you?
Harris: You know we had your lovely bride Mary Steenburgen on here a few months ago as your show was just kicking off on CBS. I told her that you guys should be moved to a later time slot, so this week they move you to a later time slot and the ratings go up. Congratulations!
Danson: Please keep connected with us here. [laughs] Tell us what to do next. [laughs]
Harris: Well, I’ll try to do that. But when we talked to Mary it was November or so when Clinton got re-elected and we were talking to her about whether you guys would be coming in for the inaugural again, because Mary and Bill Clinton go all the way back to Arkansas and I know you’re friends with them. You guys have come in and stayed in the Lincoln bedroom, haven’t you?
Danson: This does seem to be the issue of the day, doesn’t it? [laughs]
Danson: I have indeed.
Harris: I have nothing wrong with you guys coming in and staying in the Lincoln bedroom, because you’re friends of the President.
Danson: Absolutely, but I feel guilty. I think I should donate some money or something in hindsight.
Harris: No, no! That’s where you get in trouble!
Danson: Oh. All right.
Harris: Don’t do that. But what’s it like staying in the Lincoln bedroom?
Danson: It’s an honor…
Harris: But you’re a star already. You’re used to star service. Do you get bigger-than-star service at the White House or do they think, “Well, he’s the President and you’re just the TV guy.”
Danson: I think that if I was in there on my own I would have felt that way, but because I come in with Mary and they have a sit on kitchen counter tops and talk into the wee hours kind of relationship from way back for 15 years. It really does feel like I am… ummm…they love Mary, Mary loves me so they are very inclusive. So it feels much more like you’re visiting family friends than it does…..
Harris: He’s not hugging you all the time is he?
Danson: Uh, no, I’m hugging him a lot.
Harris: So it’s kind of like a brother-in-law relationship with the President?
Danson: Big brother. I mean the first time he met me he embraced me up and down, it was very intimidating. There I was, about to ask Mary to marry me and he was giving me the once-over. And it was kind of confusing you know. Big brother is the president of the United States. Will I be, you know….
Harris: There’s some people who would say that’s the same thing — Big Brother and President. Anyway, how are things going on the show? Like I said, the ratings are up. How is it to work all day long with your wife? I like going away to my job and then coming home and having my home life. You guys see each other all day long. Is there any point where you just say, “Mary, go to your trailer and I’ll go to my trailer and I’ll see you later?”
Danson: I don’t know. We’re very lucky. We have spats on the floor which are very funny when people watch us argue. All the network executives kind of freeze in their tracks and go, “Please, God, let them stay together for at least 100 episodes.” [laughs]
Harris: Don’t argue until you get into syndication.
Danson: Please, please. The alternative is one person goes off and works in Houston the other person goes off to London and you’re on the phone to each other and somebody is paying you to kiss somebody else. It’s very bizarre being an actor. This is a luxury working together.
Harris: Is there more pressure on you now because it’s you and Mary who are the stars of the show, as opposed to Cheers where you were the star of the show but you had a much bigger ensemble and entire shows could focus on somebody else?
Danson: The pressure isn’t on my brain, but on my mouth. I realized Sam Malone said very little, he spoke in little sentences. [laughs] Which is much more comfortable for me for some reason. I sit up a little straighter around Diane English and study my words.
Danson: We used to never study or memorize lines. We’d get a half a page out, throw a spit ball and look at our lines. Hence it was very chaotic on Cheers. But not so here. You actually have to learn your lines which I find totally bizarre.
Harris: Are you going to be on Frasier again with your old Cheers buddy Kelsey? Or is he going to come on with you on Ink?
Danson: I have no idea. We do tend to get around. Kirstie was on the show last week on Ink, she came in and played Mary’s sister. And I guess a couple of months ago I went over to Rhea’s show, Pearl, and did a little guest shot.
Danson: You know, why not, if it’s the only way we get to hang out together and go play on each other’s show.
Harris: By the way since you brought it up I have to ask. How weird is that since you’re married to Mary now, and Mary used to be married to Malcolm MacDowell who is the co-star of Rhea’s show…..
Danson: And Rhea, who I spent 11 years with.
Danson: Yeah, it’s very strange.
Harris: Kind of incestuous isn’t it? [laughs] Is there ever going to be a Cheers reunion kind of thing? I don’t mean a Cheers visits the Harlem Globetrotters meets Gilligan’s Island kind of thing or any thing like that. Is there ever going to be a reunion, you think?
Danson: Well, if we do, to keep in the spirit of that kind of laid back, off the wall humor, I think we should wait until we’re in our 70’s I think [laughs]. You know, falling apart. Then it would be kind of funny. Get us all back in a bar again.
Harris: Did you think you would ever live to the day when Woody Harrelson would be nominated for a Academy Award Ted?
Danson: Doesn’t that just burn your butt? [laughs] I refuse to talk to him any more. He’s getting to high-falutin for me. [laughs]
Harris: And what about the other thing people know you so well from, the movies, The Three Men. Is it going to be The Three Men and a Clone?
Danson: Yeah, why not? [laughs] I think that’s funny. Cloning, wow. Who would have thought?
Harris: Do you think it’s possible?
Danson: There should be a list of people who can and cannot clone themselves.
Harris: All right, who would you say should be or shouldn’t be on that list?
Danson: First on my list would be…[laughs]…no, I’m sorry, never mind.
Harris: No, you brought it up. Come on now.
Danson: I’m over my head now.
Harris: [laughs] All right, let me ask you this. Kirstie Alley or Shelley Long — who should be cloned?
Danson: Oh, let’s clone them both.
Harris: Oh, Mr. Diplomat! Okay, what about this question — who can eat more, George Wendt or Bill Clinton?
Danson: I haven’t seen Mr. Clinton eat, um, I don’t know.
Harris: You’ve had lunch or dinner with him at the White House.
Danson: Come on, you guys, um, who can eat more? George is a good eater.
Harris: Yeah, I would have guessed that too. Although it would be close.
Danson: George really does know good food, he knows where to put it.
Harris: [laughs] Well, listen, I know you guys got off to a turbulent start with Ink at the beginning of the season, so congratulations on the success. We hope it runs for a long time because we’re kind of tired of carrying you guys at CBS-TV here at CBS Radio.
Danson: Well, I know, but I think we might have turned something around here on Monday night. I think it actually works.
Harris: Good, keep it up, and say hi to Mary for us.
Danson: And when you have any advice, please phone us.
Harris: [laughs] I will.
Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Nicci Murphy.