Q & A: Ted Danson

Actor Ted Danson, of "Cheers" and "C.S.I."

Ted Danson has been entertaining audiences for many years - so can you blame us for being pleased when he accepted our invitation to meet with Rita Braver for some Questions-And-Answers?:

We first got to know him as the charming bartender Sam Malone on "Cheers." And now, almost 30 years later, Ted Danson's still got the magic - cast this season in a major role as investigator DB Russell on CBS's enduring crime drama , "CSI."

And he's just wrapped his third season playing man-about-town George Christopher on the hit HBO comedy series "Bored to Death."

George is the kind of guy who'd be game to dress up as Don Quixote - a guy who's a bit like, well . . . Ted Danson!

"He's seen everything, tasted everything. And instead of being jaded, he still has this amazing, eager desire to be delighted by life," said the actor.

Indeed, Danson is DELIGHTED by his life these days.

"Is it fun, you're walking in here, you know this is gonna be a great scene?" asked Braver.

"I know, exactly," said Danson.

At age 63, he's a father figure of sorts. Hanging out with two, much younger characters, played by Zach Galifinakis and Jason Schwartzman.

"A lot of the reviews say that you steal the show," Braver told Danson.

"Have you met my publicist?" he laughed. "She's here, and she planted pretty much each and every one of those comments!"

But show-stealing or not, Jason Schwarztman says he has learned a lot from working with Danson:

"Not only is he talented, but he's just charismatic," Schwartzman said. "And I think people love to be around him."

And no one loves to be around Ted Danson more than actress Mary Steenburgen (she just happens to be his WIFE in real life).

"He's a fascinating human being. He's as deep as it comes and as funny as it comes," she said.

On "Bored to Death," Steenburgen is supposed to be Danson's singing coach, but they don't spend much time singing ...

"Our children are gonna cover their ears and their eyes and run screaming from the room!" Steenburgen mused.

Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson CBS

Their four children - two each from previous marriages - are all out of the house now. So at home in L.A., it's just Ted and Mary, showing us the family album:

"This is me before I had my teeth fixed," Danson said. "I looked like I had swallowed a hand grenade!"

Danson grew up in Flagstaff, Ariz., where his dad was an archeologist. He got into acting by accident, in college at Stanford, when he followed a girl he was trying to date into an audition . . . and ended up trying out, too.

"It was the first time I think I got a laugh onstage, it was like a bam - a light bulb!" he said.

After school he went to New York to act, but then it was on to Hollywood for MORE auditions.

In 1982 he landed the part of Sam Malone on "Cheers": "Standing in a big, long line of people going through the casting door," he recalled. "But it was just one of those wonderful things in my life. It really is what gave birth to my career."

But if you think, looking back, that the show was a natural hit . . . think again.

"The truth is they had nothing to replace us with, and we were dead last one week," he laughed.

But "Cheers" found its audience. And suddenly, 35-year-old Ted Danson was a star, which he says can go to your head: