Ethics Dunce: Kelsey Grammer

Kelsey Grammer’s reputation as an arrogant and  self-centered jerk is almost as impressive as his reputation as a talented and versatile actor. Yesterday Grammer managed to confirm the former while on a panel to discuss the recent project that had added to the latter, his Emmy-winning turn as a dying Chicago mayor on the Starz cable series “Boss.”

Grammer was appearing before TV critics and writers at the Summer TV Press Tour 2012, when his cell phone started ringing. Of course, unless he was awaiting imminent notice of an available kidney, it was inexcusable for Grammer to leave his phone on while he was appearing before an audience. Never mind that: the former “Frazier” accessed his inner “Sideshow Bob” and took the call. It was Grammer’s wife.

“Hi, honey. . . . Okay. Cool. . . . I’m [on] stage right now, but go ahead. . . . Oh, that sounds great. . . . But they should bring the truck, so they can to go Universal after that. . . . Call Stan. . . . Okay, 310- ”

…at which point an alert sound technician turned off Grammer’s microphone while he finished the conversation.

The TV writers were stunned at the actor’s rudeness. Afterwards, he did not feel the need to apologize, saying only that “There are some things that are more important than others, and in my world, the well-being of my wife sits on top of the charts.”

Admittedly, when you are on Wife #4, as Grammer is, this sentiment is probably wise. It has nothing to do with treating the people you are with like panhandlers, however. Except in unusual circumstances, it is disrespectful to take phone call when one is talking with someone else, unprofessional to take a call when one is meeting with someone else (unless you warn your colleague first that a call is imminent), and beyond outrageous to take a call when you are appearing in a formal event before an audience. If you don’t know that, however, (or in the case of Grammer, know it but believe that it doesn’t apply to big shot TV stars like you), you also won’t know that you need to apologize if you do any of these things.

If the TV writers had any self-respect, they would have walked out on Grammer while he was taking the call, leaving him in privacy to handle the matter that he deemed important, and not come back. None of them did, however, which is exactly why people like Grammer can continue to be jerks, and do.


Facts: Washington Post

Graphic: Fortress of Turpitude

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

One thought on “Ethics Dunce: Kelsey Grammer

  1. I’ve left this thought before. Los Angeles City College has a well-deserved rep for a fine theatre arts department. The first thing they taught me in Acting 101: the most important people in any play are the audience. That applies to stage, film, ballet, TV, whatever. Any performer who does not respect his audience should find a different job.

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