CHEERS was filmed on Stage 25 at Paramount Studios in Hollywood.
The set was designed by Richard Sylbert, an Academy Award winner.
It was patterned after the Bull & Finch bar in Boston. But the B&F is much smaller, and the bar itself is up against the back wall. The decor, Tiffany lamps and stained glass is true to the B&F.
Director James Burrows had a lot of input into the design which is why it was so easy to shoot in it. You could bring cameras way up into the set, get many different and interesting angles, and even get shots all the way down the hall.
If you look closely, you’ll notice a line that runs down the center of the bar. It’s on a hinge and actually the right half can swing around, allowing room for the right wall to swing back revealing Sam’s office.
There are lights underneath the bar pointing up. It was hard in the first few episodes to see Ted Danson’s eyes.
Nick Colasanto always had a tough time memorizing the script. There were dozens of his lines hidden underneath the bar.
The bar was functional. The CHEERS set was the best ever for show parties.
Whenever an outside set is needed the pool room set is struck.
There is a fourth wall section that was used a couple of times in the first season.
The audience bleachers sat 200. They were raised so even the front row could see over the cameras. To one side was a platform where a small band would play between scenes.
The beer served on tap was warm 3.2 beer. Do not envy George Wendt having to drink that swill every week.
The set was huge. If we wanted to pack the bar we needed 500 people. For our routine customers we used 30-40 extras. Anything else and the bar looked empty.
The guy who had the hardest job on the series was the prop master. Imagine keeping track of all the glasses, drinks, bowls, trays, pretzels, 5.457.432 lemons that Ted cut up every episode, etc.
The phone on the bar would move from end to end depending upon where it was needed.
The Wurlitzer jukebox was not functional. The piano was.
The set was lit differently after the first couple of episodes. Brighter, more inviting. If you have the DVD of the first season, notice the difference between the pilot and episodes later in the year.
The photo over the bar that is supposed to be Sam is really Boston Cy Young winning pitcher Jim Lonborg.
The wooden Indian at the front door was named Techumsa.