Hollywood's go-to good guy intellectual is branching out. Kelsey Grammer is getting his own cable series in Boss, wherein he plays a conflicted Chicago mayor. Starz has released the first teaser for Boss ahead of its fall premiere, which introduces us to Chicago mayor Tom Kane (Grammer) as he manages the city by whatever means necessary. He has to deal with the typical snakepit of American politics, a collapsing marriage and his own deteriorating health - Kane is suffering from an as-yet unidentified degenerative mental condition.
Kane needs to keep the wheels of Chicago spinning while keeping the secret of his failing health under wraps. The greatest danger to his political career is his estranged daughter Alice (Hannah Ware, Cop Out) who may or may not know the truth.
While Grammer remains a reliable character actor, he hasn't had a breakout hit since Frasier. Both Back To You on Fox and Hank on ABC died in their first season. He's been taking one-off guest parts and supporting roles in movies like X-Men: The Last Stand and Swing Vote. With a decidedly dramatic role on a cable show, Boss may be just the think to allow Grammer some much-needed flexibility.
Starz certainly wouldn't object. Even with dramas like Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Camelot, they're running a long third behind HBO and Showtime. Boss will be Starz' first original series that isn't a period piece, allowing for a viewership with more contemporary tastes. And given the notoriously questionable nature of Illinois politics, no one could accuse the series of being less than topical.
Judge for yourself in the teaser below:
Starz also revealed a poster for Boss, keeping with the teaser's dark tone:
Speaking of politics, it'll be interesting to see how Grammer handles the show. The actor is a well-known conservative, even going so far as to proclaim that he's interested in running for a congressional seat. Compare this with the typically liberal Chicago political scene and his role as an executive producer for Boss, and some heavy-handed rhetoric is (unfortunately) not out of the question.
The combination of an imposing leader and a debilitating illness will be familiar to fans of The West Wing, where Martin Sheen's President Bartlett suffered from multiple sclerosis for several seasons. The series is being written by Apocalypto scribe Farhad Safinia.
Boss is currently scheduled for an October premiere on Starz.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelCrider