School may be out for summer, but overachievers looking to get a head start on the upcoming academic year can tune into the new dramedy “Greek,” the first episode of which premiered Monday night on ABC Family. Set at fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University, the hour-long show follows the dormitory hijinks, romantic entanglements and hard-partying pursuits of a group of quirky students, many of whom belong, as the show’s title suggests, to a fraternity or sorority. At the center of this social vortex is blonde Zeta Beta Zeta member Casey, played by Spencer Grammer. Equal parts perkiness, ambition and sarcasm, Casey proves a more complex character than the average airhead sorority girl. And Grammer — daughter of Kelsey and a self-described “total dork” who loves the Discovery Channel — turns out to be no ordinary famous progeny.
BLOOD TIES: Born and raised in Los Angeles, Grammer always had ambitions to perform, what with her actor father and Broadway dancer mother (Doreen Alderman, Kelsey’s first wife, whom he divorced in 1990). Grammer attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and is eight classes shy of completing her theater major at Marymount Manhattan College. But her first acting endeavor came much earlier, at the age of eight, when she starred as “a glorified extra” on an episode of “Cheers.” “It really wasn’t like I said anything,” she explains. “I just sat on this chair and licked my lips like you do when you’re a kid.”
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WORLD VIEW: Prior to “Greek,” Grammer had just finished a six-month stint on the soap opera “As the World Turns,” in which she played Dr. Lucy Montgomery. A 23-year-old seems awfully green to be practicing medicine, even fictionally — a fact not lost on Grammer. “I went through an accelerated program,” she laughs. “It was a challenge for me, being so young. And you know, you always end up killing somebody, so people hate you, even if it’s an accident.”
CLOSET ENCOUNTERS: Grammer has happily traded in her scrubs for the prepped-out duds she sports as sorority powerhouse Casey. Her 15-hour-plus shooting schedule leaves the dress lover little time to indulge in shopping excursions (she has a soft spot for Diane von Furstenberg). So she uses the “Greek” closet for last-minute wardrobe crises. “Sometimes I’ll borrow stuff for an audition,” she admits. Such forays don’t come without their perils, however. “But then I feel weird wearing the clothes I wore on the show. What if somebody saw me and they were, like, ‘You were wearing that outfit in the last episode’ and I’d have to be, like, ‘No I wasn’t….I don’t know what you’re talking about.'”
FATHER KNOWS BEST: Though she’s treading her own thespian path, Grammer has certainly benefited from some kindly counsel from dad. “He always used to say that in an audition you should give them a moment of truth. I try to apply that to my acting career now. I mean, I always want to be truthful to the character, no matter what I do. Sometimes it might be the wrong choice, but I hope that it’s honest.” Grammer will be taking another piece of fatherly advice when she heads off on vacation in August after “Greek” wraps. “My dad always says it’s really important that you take care of yourself,” she says. “Sometimes you just have to take the time or you go crazy or have, like, drug problems.”