Martin Lawrence, Kelsey Grammer team up in 'Partners'

Martin Lawrence in a scene from Partners. (FX Handout)

Martin Lawrence in a scene from Partners. (FX Handout)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:31 PM ET

If you combine Martin Lawrence's fan base and Kelsey Grammer's fan base, Partners could be the biggest show in the history of TV. It's simple math.

“In the best-case scenario, we would hope for that,” Lawrence said with a laugh. “As long as we get enough to hopefully get five years with the people on TV, that would be good.

“His humour and my humour, if it's smart comedy, if it's understandable comedy, if it resonates with the people, it could be anybody's audience. He has a certain brand of comedy and a certain way that he does comedy. I would say he got the white audience and I got the black audience. But you put those two together ... you know it.”

Partners debuts in Canada Aug. 7 on Global, which is three days after its debut in the U.S. on channel-of-origin FX. Lawrence and Grammer star as Chicago lawyers from different backgrounds who form a partnership after meeting in court on the worst day of their lives.

Lawrence's Marcus Jackson is a community activist whose good works can't save his own marriage. Grammer's Allen Braddock is a hotshot who nonetheless manages to get himself fired from his father's firm.

“(Grammer's character) is for the money, he's about getting the money by any means necessary,” Lawrence said. “I'm a morally grounded guy, I do pro bono cases, they cook for me and bring me food, things like that.

“As we mesh our two kinds of comedy together, our characters kind of teach each other. We try to find out what is the right way to be principled and correct, to do the right thing. And ultimately, it's all for our clients.”

Hmmm, that sounds like a pitch from one of those ambulance-chasing lawyer teams that advertises on late-night TV. But since Lawrence's character is the do-gooder in this scenario, we'll take him at his word.

Partners is working on the same business model that Charlie Sheen's Anger Management had when it debuted in 2012. Specifically, 10 episodes will be made, and if those 10 episodes hit certain ratings goals on FX, it triggers a clause by which 90 more episodes will be made, guaranteeing a total of at least 100.

“I was involved with Lionsgate, they were interested in doing something with me,” Lawrence said. “And then I got a call from Kelsey Grammer's people, and they said he had a nice little deal with Lionsgate and what did I think about hooking up with Kelsey to do a show. I said, 'Wow, that's a little different, we are the kind of odd couple here, that might be worth a try.' And once I met Kelsey, I was like, 'We could really make this work.'

“(The first scene together) probably was a little bit cold, feeling each other out or whatever. But Kelsey was so good off the top, man. Some people you could see from afar and think they're good, but it's different when you see somebody up close and you couldn't imagine they were that good. I knew he was good, I knew he was funny, but to work with him and see how truly talented he is, I didn't know all that.”

While Grammer is best known for his TV work on Cheers, Frasier and Boss (not to mention being the voice of Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons), Lawrence hasn't been a regular on a TV show since Martin, which aired five seasons from 1992 to 1997. But in between then and now, Lawrence became a big-time bankable movie star, filling the multiplexes with Big Momma's House and its sequels.

“It's just the right time,” said the 49-year-old Lawrence of his return to TV. “I was able to take some time off and spend it with my family. But everyone was still talking about the Martin show. It's still running (in syndication) and my family was like, 'Hey, we'd love to see you back in TV.' So I thought I'd give it a try. I love the response you get from TV. I love the fact that it's free TV for the people. They can tune in and see you for free.

“I do look at Kelsey and myself and think, 'Yeah, we're bringing people together, this is kind of big.' ”

Like, biggest-show-ever big? Do the math, Martin Lawrence.

“You know what?” a smiling Lawrence said. “From your mouth to God's ears.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 


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