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"Frasier" star to play Gary the Rat online

Kelsey Grammer inks a deal with MediaTrip.com to create "Gary the Rat," as well as a series of other animated comedy strips for the Webcaster.

    HOLLYWOOD--"Frasier's" Kelsey Grammer, who has already lent his voice to "The Simpsons," has decided to become a little more animated, inking an exclusive deal with MediaTrip.com to create "Gary the Rat," as well as a series of other animated comedy strips for the Webcaster.

    Kelsey Grammer In his first project for the Web, Grammer will produce the series, as well as future dot-com content, through his Paramount Studios-based production company, Grammnet.

    "Gary the Rat" follows the life of high-powered Manhattan attorney, Gary (voiced by Grammer), who wakes up one day as a 6-foot rat and finds he has become even more appealing to his clients.

    It also features Johnny Bugz, Gary's nemesis exterminator, as well as other supporting roles currently being cast. "Gary the Rat" was created by writer-producers Mark and Rob Cullen.

    Thirteen episodes, each about three minutes, have been produced. More will be created should the series take off among Net viewers.

    Viacom's Paramount Network Television receives a first look at "Gary the Rat" after its bow in the fall to potentially turn the Web strip into a traditional TV show.

    "The goal is to make the episodes as funny as we can and get the next order," Grammer said. "We also want it to be a step up from what's out there now and try to broaden the Internet viewing audience."

    MediaTrip, which serves as the official online partner for Joe Roth's Revolution Studios, will also create an interactive arena for the show dubbed "The Bug Cave" and build around the characters and plot lines, featuring games, contests and other content. A feline character named Boots will host the area, providing acerbic commentary on Johnny's weekly foiled assassination attempts on Gary.

    "I'm very excited about 'The Rat,'" Grammer said. "It's one of the best characters I've come across in years, and I think he has a very fruitful future."

    Grammer said that creating "Gary the Rat" was a way to entertain in a new medium.

    "The idea of staying current in my mind is very important to me as an artist," Grammer said. "I'm not a dinosaur anymore, but I'm certainly not fluent with a lot of what's going on. I'm thrilled about working on the cutting edge of entertainment."

    Grammer recently completed work on New Line's "Fifteen Minutes," starring Robert De Niro and Edward Burns. He also recently received his 10th Emmy nomination for his role in "Frasier."

    Story Copyright © 2000 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.