Ted Danson just may be the most popular actor in America. Along with starring as the randy Sam Malone on the highly rated television show "Cheers," he also stars -- with Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg -- in the holiday movie smash "Three Men and a Little Lady." All this success and he has the best breath in Hollywood to boot.
"You've got to try this stuff to believe it," says Danson, ensconced in an L.A. hotel suite where he's promoting the sequel to the blockbuster "Three Men and a Baby." He holds out a bottle of all-natural mouth deodorizer drops. "This stuff packs quite a kick. . . . I'm using it to keep awake. This morning, I flew in from Boston where we celebrated the 200th episode of 'Cheers,' and I am dead tired."
That said, he eyes the whirring tape recorder in front of him wearily. "Ask away," he says. "I'm so zonked I'll talk about anything." And he does.
Q: If you were stranded on a desert island, what are three things you'd need to live comfortably?
A: A good caterer. A batch of old British comedies for my VCR -- that I would just happen to have with me. And guilt-free sex.
Q: You are a serious environmentalist. In your opinion, what is the most disturbing environmental tragedy occurring today? (Pause) Does this sound like a Miss America question?
A: (Laughs) No. The Mid-East crisis, I think. We are so dependent on oil for our energy when we do not need to be that way. And now, as opposed to changing our ways for smart environmental reasons, we are willing to put peoples' lives in danger. Yes, Saddam Hussein is a crazy person. But that ain't why we're there.
Q: What was your reaction when you saw the photo of you with your pants down that ran in Entertainment Weekly?
A: That was a cast picture of the Cheers gang -- we were together to commemorate the 200th episode -- and we were all angry that photo was taken. They were told not to take pictures at that point. I was just joking around trying to make our director laugh and someone from the magazine snapped me without me knowing it. What comes across in my view is this unbelievably arrogant thing. Believe me, I'm not an exhibitionist.
Q: How did you get up enough nerve to show your bald spot to all of America on the Emmy awards this year?
A: My official statement is, "I had no idea I've been wearing a hairpiece all these years. My friends should have told me." No, I hadn't worn my rug for two months because I had some time off. I wore a hairpiece for the first time when I did "Cousins." It was thinning in the back so they put a piece in and it was great. Loved it. But during my vacation I had no desire to put it back on at all. It's much easier to walk around without it. People give me more distance. They probably think I don't know I'm not wearing it!
Q: What would you rather give up -- the fact that women consider you incredibly good looking or 15 points off your IQ?
A. My sexy image is because of the writing on "Cheers." Men, you want to be considered sexy? Get on a really popular show where your part is written as sexy, have beautiful women hired to stand around and say you're sexy, and lo and behold -- you're sexy. And if you keep your mouth shut and don't deny it, it sticks.
Q: Which would Ted Danson be attracted to in real life -- the Diane type or the Rebecca type?
A: I can't answer that. That's like talking about your ex-wife in front of your current wife. Sorry.
Q: Is the rumored feud between you and Shelley Long for real?
A: No. But I . . . Let's put it this way -- seeing the 200th episode, I started to feel really bad. I am sorry I did not have the emotional security to turn around and tell her when she left the show that she was magnificent. I think she carried the show for the first couple of years. And so I was worried after she left what the show would be like without her. I should have acknowledged her work in a better way and I regret that I didn't.
Q: If you could land the cover of Time magazine, what would your dream caption be?
A: Ted Danson -- Nobel Peace Prize Winner.