You may know him as Frasier or even Side Show Bob. But funny man Kelsey Grammar has put aside his wine glass and big floppy shoes to give us Tom Kane, the ruthless and powerful Mayor of Chicago. So if your looking for the usual good hearted high brow comedy we’ve come to expect from Mr. Grammar, look else where, because the Boss ain’t #$&*ing around.
We open on Tom Kane, as he sits patiently listening to his doctor describe the rare neurological disorder that will take his mind and eventually his life. After hearing this disturbing news he calls his estranged daughter but it unable to reach her. As we delve further into his personal life we find that his marriage to Meredith Kane (Connie Nelson) is a sham, maintained only for appearances. Tom Kane has no one.
For reasons as yet unknown, Tom has turned on his political ally, Governor McCall Cullen, in favor of State Treasurer Ben Zajac (Jeff Hephner). On the surface Zajac appears to be a family values, church going man who works in the interest of the people. However, we quickly learn that there are skeletons in his closet as he begins an affair with Kitty O’Neill (Kathleen Robertson), Tom’s political adviser.
When Native Art work is found in a construction site, a man named Moco takes it upon himself to report it to the local news. Unfortunately for him, this project has been in the works for 22 years and Mayor Tom Kane has been at the forefront for the expansion of the O’Hare International Airport. And now his plans are threatened by this act of show and tell. Tom calls a meeting with the Hispanic Council Member overseeing the project and delivers a devastating and terrifying speech chastising the man for this failure. The Councilor gets the message and vows to make amends. He does so by delivering the ears (yup actual human ears) of the man who spoke to the reporters. The Mayor attempts to deal with this issue by adding an amendment to a garbage bill that would give him sole authority over the archaeological artifacts. But he meets opposition and is unable to pass the bill.
For those of you most familiar with Kelsey Grammar as Frasier, the lovable quirky therapist, you will be quickly relived of that sentiment as Tom Kane is a ruthless, corrupt and monstrous man whose sole aim is maintaining and augmenting his power. There is nothing likable about Tom Kane. Even his illness garners little sympathy as we see him abuse his position in ever self aggrandizing maneuvers. And yet we are left with the unassailable impression that Tom Kane is definitely an effective leader. And maybe even a good Mayor.
Farhad Safinia the creator of Boss and the writer of this episode strives to present a grittier, more realistic approach to politics by showing us the darker side of democracy. There are no good guys or even bad guys, just human beings each working to their own advantage. In the end this episode is highly entertaining and beckons the viewer to continue watching. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and go watch Boss, you won’t regret it.
Farhad Safinia, creator/executive producer of BOSS, and some guy named Kelsey Grammer talk about what they’re learning. And as writers we find it…impressive:
‘Boss’ Season 2: Kelsey Grammer, Farhad Safinia on Exploring ‘Original Sin – by Lesley Goldberg
THR sat down with the star and executive producer to discuss how Kane’s illness will impact the pace of the story, how long they envision the series running and the shocking story line that kicks off in Friday’s premiere.
The Hollywood Reporter: How does Season 2 compare to the first run? What did you learn?
Farhad Safinia: The storytelling is taking on a new shape. Season 1 was focused in terms of its structure; I told it like a movie. The eight hours had a beginning, middle and end and you had to be patient to wait for the plots that we put in the first few episodes to pay off. It’s a risky endeavor for a TV show. We are not like The Sopranos or The Wire or Mad Men in a way in which we’re looking at a window into a particular life that is open for the moment and then is going to get shut. In our case, we have an arc of change in our storytelling because we promised the audience that we’re watching the final few years of this man’s life. So from season to season we either have to keep to that promise or the audience is going to get upset with us. I couldn’t go back in Season 2 and repeat the same tone and vibe of the first season in a way in which shows like ER can without people getting upset.
Kelsey Grammer: It’s specific to what has gone on in [Kane’s] mind. I think you’ll find that in the latter half of the season there’s another shift. A lot of what felt like the old show you started to see again in the last two or three [episodes] of last season.
Safinia: The plot structure and plotting that we’re following is very much a mirror of Kane’s state of mind in a way. I think that worked for us very well. Even in Season 1 there was some shift. I remember during the course of the season people were asking us, “My God, Kane doesn’t seem to have even suffered from any illness for two or three episodes; is [his disease] going away, is it coming back?” I think that’s because that is the nature of the disease: where you can have a long run with nothing and then suddenly it comes back and looks like it’s going to take you out there and then. When we start Season 2, we’re in a place where [Kane] had effectively decimated his inner circle. He is seemingly in control again because of the radical moves that he pulled in terms of what he did with Ezra Stone [Martin Donovan], what he did with his daughter [Hannah Ware], what he did with Kitty [Kathleen Robertson], and so on. But his mind is nowhere good. He is desperate in a way. That desperation we are marrying with a structure of storytelling that’s more hectic. That will change midseason again for a plot point that we can’t quite tell you why. But hopefully the pace will shift again, as the pace of his disease shifts and changes.
The disease is moving a lot quicker than anticipated, was the decision to speed things up based at all on the underperforming ratings? Safinia: Not at all. The network and the studio have been behind what we want to do and have never once said anything about any of those things. We don’t have shifts in storytelling tone to reflect the fact that our story is changing fundamentally because our central character is changing. Tony Soprano ends The Sopranos effectively unchanged in my view. That’s why they can just cut to black. In our case, we’re not like that. We are watching a five-year drop. So, we have to have those changes reflected in our how we’re telling our story. There is a bigger fragmented nature in Season 2. The story lines seem to spin out of a gravitational control. Things that seem to be irrelevant at first suddenly become relevant in a horrific way. That aspect is exactly what’s going on in Kane’s mind, too. We didn’t have the right numbers but we had critical acclaim for Season 1. They think the formula works, let’s just try to build an audience. We opened it up, telling you that Kane’s dying and that you can’t go into Season 2 and repeat what you did because people need to see something new.
Yes, he’s had some funky personal problems, but all my dealings with Chris have been professional and positive. In everything we’ve done together, he has shown himself to be a man of great taste, which is all I think we should expect from a guy sitting in big room in a tall building looking down at the city and giving notes.
Which means I’m interested in everything Chris has to say, including this:
At the top of Starz’s portion of the TCA summer press tour, the network’s president and CEO was asked about the decision to end the costume drama Spartacus after the upcoming third season. Albrecht said he joined Starz when the network was editing the first season of the show. “When I saw the ending of the first season, I said: ‘Uh-oh’, Spartacus just exited the franchise; it exited the Upstairs, Downstairs aspect of gladiators and Romans living together”. With the gladiators taking to the hills and the Romans in town, “we had to tell two distinct stories, and that is never the ultimate way to do a TV series”, Albrecht said. The series also had to deal with the departure of beloved original star Andy Whitfield. “Ultimately, rather than trying to string the story with one more argument, one more villain showing up, we decided to follow the historic trajectory and bring Spartacus’ story to an end. Better leave viewers wanting more than diminish the overall impact of the franchise”.
Spartacus creator Steven S. DeKnight, who is under an overall deal at Starz, is already working on his next project for the pay cable network. “Steven just returned from Hawaii where he shot ‘proof of concept’ for a show he’s developed”, Albrecht said. That show is sci-fi drama Incursion, which Albrecht described as “Band of Brothers meets Halo” and involves a lot of creatures.
Albrecht also gave an update on Starz’s upcoming series. Da Vinci’s Demons, which is currently in production, is eyed for the end of first quarter or second quarter of 2013. The series stars Tom Riley as young Leonardo Da Vinci. The Michael Bay-produced pirate drama Black Sails is currently in pre-production in South Africa where standing sets are being erected with the goal to also build one or two boats. The series is looking at a launch in early 2014, possibly inheriting the Spartacus slot.
Marco Polo is “taking more time than the producers thought”. The series is still in the planning stage as “the challenge to make the series in China has proven as formidable as we feared”.
Noir, which just hired a third writing team, “ran into some creative challenges but…I’m very confident Noir will be on, just not sure when”, Albrecht said.
For us, the cool part of this news is that Joe Straczynski’s got a project that sounds amazingly cool, and, like, we know him. Well, almost know him. Close enough!
by TeamTVWriter Press Service
As part of STARZ overall deal with “Spartacus” creator Steven S. DeKnight, STARZ is developing “Incursion,” an epic science fiction action-thriller that follows a squad of soldiers caught in a war against a hostile alien race. Each season the battle will be fought on a new, exotic planet as humanity punches deeper into enemy territory. Grittily realistic combat, darkly complex characters and intrigue on a cosmic scale will permeate the tale of fighting men and women facing the pressures of war and an enemy unlike any ever seen. In addition to his international acclaim on “Spartacus,” Steven has worked on such well-regarded series as “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, “Angel”, “Smallville,” and “Dollhouse.
J. Michael Straczynski is the wildly successful writer and producer whose credits include such fan classics as Thor, Underworld: Awakening, “Babylon 5,” and The Changeling. He has teamed with horror master Roy Lee, whose credits include such hits as The Ring, The Strangers and The Woman in Black in developing “Vlad Dracula” with veteran producer Rob Tapert, whose credits include the international Starz hit series, “Spartacus,” iconic “Xena: Warrior Princess,” Evil Dead and The Grudge. The project is a unique spin of the classic tale, blending the historical facts of the 15th century Prince of Wallachia, with the fictional Dracula whose story is known around the world and continues to fascinate audiences. “Vlad Dracula” traces his evolution from a revered ruler to the world’s most feared vampire, and his slow downfall as he struggles desperately to hang on to his humanity, his wife and his kingdom.
Managing Director of Starz, Carmi Zlotnik said “Steven DeKnight, J. Michael Straczynski, Roy Lee and Rob Tapert are legendary talents, having created some of the most groundbreaking and iconic television series with incredibly passionate fan bases the world over. We are thrilled to work with such sophisticated auteurs and producers as we grow the slate of unique Starz original series.”