After years of playing the TV wife of a sports scribe and having two Plain Dealer writers in her real-life family, Patricia Heaton is taking a turn in the anchor’s chair: Heaton, the daughter of former Plain Dealer Browns beat reporter Chuck Heaton and the sister of current Plain Dealer “Minister of Culture” columnist Michael Heaton (see reviews of their new books below), plays uptight TV anchorwoman Kelly Carr in the new Fox sitcom “Back to You.” The Emmy-winning actress, still seen as Debra Barone in syndicated reruns of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” talks about working with “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer and the secret to picking the next great role.
You and Kelsey Grammer have the same agent. But how did you end up on a sitcom together? Our agent had been suggesting that we try to find something to do together. [Creators] Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, who know Kelsey and have worked with him, came to him with this project. I got the script while I was doing a play in New York. Kelsey had requested that I take a look at the part, and I loved it.
Why did the part appeal to you? It was a real departure from what I had been doing. That’s key if you’ve done the same role for many years and you’re imprinted in people’s minds in one way. The trick is to find something that’s different enough — that’s challenging for you, that would be interesting to do — but also has enough qualities that are natural to you so that it’s not such a huge stretch for the audience to believe you as this new character.
So what’s it like to work with Kelsey Grammer? It’s funny, because the characters he mostly portrays are persnickety, uptight persons. But in real life, he’s laid-back, easygoing, really professional but doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s just found that perfect balance.