It must be hard to walk away from some of the highest-paying gigs in television, but the ''Frasier'' cast is apparently getting ready to wind down in 2004, after 11 seasons. ''I think the indications are that it's going to end after this coming season,'' David Hyde Pierce told Reuters on Sunday. ''That's sort of what we've been told. We shoot one more season and that would be it. We all hate to see it go. We all love it. We want it to go out classy.''
One upshot of the end of '"Frasier'' would be that it would allow Pierce to branch out from playing the prissy, uptight Dr. Niles Crane. ''I'm navigating away from Niles,'' Pierce said during a press junket to promote ''Down With Love,'' the new Renée Zellweger/Ewan McGregor romantic comedy that's an homage to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies of the early 1960s. (Pierce plays the Tony Randall part -- guess that's at least a baby step away from Niles.) ''I recognize the power of being the same character on television for a long time and I recognize that I can't just leap into something completely different and expect people to buy it,'' said Pierce. ''I have to make that transition gradually, though the most frequent suggestion from friends is I should really play a psychotic serial killer.''