Starz has a lot of confidence in their upcoming political drama Boss, starring Kelsey Grammer - so much so that they've ordered a second season even before the first one gets going.
Such a brazen move is rare in the world of television, where pennies are pinched a lot more often than in the municipal politics Boss portrays. Early critical buzz for the show is high, but not extremely high. Starz executives must have seen some amazing television to place so much faith in a freshman drama.
Boss stars Grammer as Tom Kane, the ruthless and uncompromising mayor of Chicago. When his health begins to fail, Kane fears for his career and hides his neurological disorder from his constituents, his staff and his family. Other notable players include Connie Nelson (Gladiator) as Kane's wife and Martin Donovan (Weeds) as his political adviser.
Boss is a major departure for Grammer, who's known for his comedic roles on Frasier and in movies like Down Periscope. The politically-conscious actor is serving as an executive producer on the new series alongside writer Farhad Safinia (Apocalypto). The dark drama explores the seedy underworld of Chicago's high society, with an emphasis on the fragility of Grammer's character.
It's not unheard of for a network to order two seasons of a show before it begins. Two years ago Starz ordered the second season of Spartacus a few weeks before the series premiere. Many big-budget shows get a full season commitment even before a pilot is finished (like Terra Nova) and multi-season renewals of dependable ratings hits like The Big Bang Theory are common.
That said, committing heavily to a show before audiences get a chance to have their say is gutsy. Lionsgate president Kevin Beggs said as much when praising Starz' decision to renew the production studio's project:
This early vote of confidence from our partners at Starz is extremely gratifying and reflects the tremendous work of all those involved with Boss on both sides of the camera. Kelsey’s dramatic turn in this series is a powerful and radical departure from his previous television roles and we can’t wait for viewers to be drawn into his fascinating world.
Of course the decision carries its share of risk as well. Production on the second batch of episodes may begin just a few weeks after the first season ends - a disaster if the show's audience fails to materialize, like Camelot earlier in 2011. Season 2 will begin filming early next year, which may have it ready for a summer 2012 premiere.
Boss premieres October 21st on Starz.
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