Starz “BOSS” Brings Big Screen Entertainment to the Small Screen: Starring Kelsey Grammar!
Don’t you just love watching a great movie with a fabulous cast and a significant story to tell? I do– and I often find that LionsGate (or Miramax) is often behind those movies. How about on the small screen? Starz has been incredibly successful with Spartacus and Camelot but most were featuring one or two key stars with the main cast being up and coming actors. While the story lines were interesting, they were often predictable (you know that Arthur isn’t going to die in season 1 right?) A collaboration of Staz with a LionsGate production that features a name-brand cast with an incredibly complex, rich, juicey plot/story to tell that will remind you of the bits and pieces of “24”‘s intricate plotlines along with an even more stellar cast and deep characterizations.
Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) sits like a spider at the center of Chicago’s web of power; a web built on a covenant with the people. They want to be led, they want disputes settled, jobs dispensed, and loyalties rewarded. If he achieves all this through deception and immorality, so be it. As long as he gets the job done, they look the other way.
Yet despite being the most effective mayor in recent history, a degenerative brain disorder is ripping everything away from him. He can’t trust his memory, his closest allies, or even himself.
Kane’s wife Meredith (Connie Nielsen) knows nothing. Theirs is a marriage of convenience. Kitty O’Neil (Kathleen Robertson), Kane’s political aide, has her suspicions but stays silent. Kane’s chief of staff, Ezra Stone (Martin Donovan), has no illusions about the stakes involved and doesn’t ask questions. And State Treasurer Ben Zajac (Jeff Hephner) is too concerned with his own political ambitions to notice anything unusual.
Only Emma (Hannah Ware), Kane’s estranged daughter, has a chance of learning his secret. This is going to be the toughest term yet for the Boss.
Having debuted this past Friday evening at 10 PM on Starz network, you need to put this on your TIVO/DVR so you don’t miss a single episode. This is one of those series that hooks you in like ER, “24” and others of that sort of serial drama where the characters each have a long plot-line to unfold and it’s clear that most have significantly hidden agendas and are often up to no good. The most interesting part is that this series is closer to the truth than you realize (particularly since it’s based in Chicago where the Daley machine was known for controlling Chicago and other politicos. Recent scandals like former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich’s conviction of corruption makes this particular story poignant, real and gritty.
The cast of characters who are incredibly well-played by each actor and with a richness of talent and understanding of their character’s nuances.
MAYOR TOM KANE (Kelsey Grammer)
Male, mid 50s, tough when it’s called for and charismatic when necessary, he’s a career politician and a good one at that. As the mayor, Kane is no stranger to the glad-handing, backroom politics for which Chicago is famous – he knows the game and runs it well. Several terms at the city’s helm have made him the most powerful man in Illinois, but not without sacrifice: his cold but mutually understood relationship with his wife, Meredith, and his tenuous relationship with his estranged daughter, Emma, are casualties which Kane must endure. Kane’s reign of power is threatened when he learns he has a debilitating disease he must hide in order to maintain control.
MEREDITH KANE (Connie Nielsen)
Female, late 40s, immaculately groomed, professional, confident, formidable, a woman whose unassailable public persona seems too embedded to allow her to have or reveal emotion, Meredith is Mayor Kane’s wife. Polite but no longer emotionally engaged with her husband, Meredith goes to his public outings without question, and handles her own end of their business–like spearheading an independent educational organization that’s funding the city’s failing schools–with steely, unwavering commitment.
KITTY O’NEIL (Kathleen Robertson)
Female, mid 30s, tough, supremely organized, Kitty is Mayor Kane’s right hand woman, who manages his schedule, makes sure he’s where he should be, has a working knowledge of the most arcane details of his agenda, and even writes his speeches. Having worked for Kane for eight years, Kitty is unfazed by the frequent brutality in his manner, and can witness the most shocking show of temper on the Mayor’s part without losing her composure. Kitty works closely with Ezra Stone, Kane’s senior advisor, and like him conducts herself impeccably to make sure she deserves the Mayor’s trust–because clearly his enmity would be terrifying.
EMMA KANE (Hannah Ware)
Female, 30, no fuss, small, simply attired, with a sense of unending determination even though she seems chronically tired, Emma is the daughter of Chicago Mayor Tom Kane; she’s also the rector of the Calvary Episcopal Church, from which she organizes/operates a free health services clinic for the poor. Emma seems to have a troubled relationship with her father, and is accustomed to not being able to connect with him, literally and figuratively. Despite her obvious good works and sense of mission, Emma seems to be a bit lost, possibly searching for something, possibly struggling with a drug habit, which makes her reach out to a friendship with an unexpected young man.
BEN ZAJAC (Jeff Hephner)
Male, 40, impeccably handsome, a Chicago native from a working class background, Zajac is the state’s Treasurer, having left a lucrative private sector law career to pursue public service, about which he is infectiously passionate; he’s also ambitious. He’s clearly about to become a major player on the Chicago political scene.
EZRA STONE (Martin Donovan)
Male, 50s, lean and fit, Stone is Kane’s “grey suit” (senior advisor), who is grey in demeanor and greyer in moral outlook. A Yale graduate, smart and savvy, much trusted by the Mayor, Stone is a seasoned politico who helps the Mayor achieve his agenda, whether it’s pushing through an unpopular ordinance or organizing the support of an unexpected gubernatorial candidate. Stone also comes through for the Mayor in a much more personal way, no questions asked.
GOVERNOR MCCALL CULLEN (Francis Guinan)
The governor of Illinois, a seasoned, driven politico facing a bitter campaign, Cullen hates having to play along with the Mayor’s apparent unwavering support of his bid for re-election, but he’s clearly aware that Kane is going to drop him down a manhole pretty soon. A man with, if possible, an even worse temper than Mayor Kane, Cullen is unbelievably abusive to his long-suffering aide.
DARIUS MORRISON (Rotimi Akinosho)
Darius is a kind young man who brings his elderly, ailing uncle to Emma’s free clinic for help with his emphysema. Muscular, ambitious and intriguing, Darius is a smart, enterprising and thoughtful young man striving to break free of the confines of his immediate world – one fraught with primal dangers. Maybe that’s why Emma is drawn to him.
DR. ELLA HARRIS (Karen Aldridge)
Female, 40s, strong, serious, the mother of an 8-year-old son, Dr. Harris is a neurologist. She has integrity and takes her doctor-patient confidentiality role seriously. However, she’s shaken to her core when she’s given a frightening reminder from one of Kane’s henchmen about the need for secrecy.
SAM MILLER (Troy Garity)
Male, 30s, a Tribune reporter with a reputation for fearlessly pursuing the truth, Miller is politically savvy with a journalist’s nose for the real story. Currently working on an in depth piece about Mayor Tom Kane, Miller follows Meredith Kane on one of her stumps for the private company funding the failing inner-city schools. Miller has no idea that he’s about to be a pawn in Kane and Stone’s master plan for revealing their gubernatorial candidate.
ALDERMAN MATA (Ricardo Gutierrez)
Male, 50s-60s, an Alderman on the Chicago council, political boss of the 30th ward, basically a thug in a suit, Mata’s a brutal politico who believes in pissing down the ladder: after a vicious chewing out by Kane for letting one of his underlings, construction company owner Moco Ruiz, make an unauthorized TV appearance, Mata ends a golf game with Ruiz by having his henchmen teach him a lesson he will never forget. Mata is responsible for muscling through an ordinance in council designed to help out Kane in his struggle to expand the airport.
ALDERMAN ROSS (James Vincent Meredith)
Male, 40s, African-American, a strong alderman in the predominately African-American wards of Chicago’s South Side. He sees Kane’s stronghold over City Hall and organizes a faction against him. Having been established as Kane’s rival, he positions himself to work against him whenever necessary, including voicing his strong indignation at a certain ordinance proposal that he deems contemptible and outrageous.
MOCO RUIZ (Joe Minoso)
Male, 30s, Hispanic/Spanish speaking, one of Mata’s “guys,” not too astute, Ruiz is the owner of the construction company that got the bid to work the airport expansion, which includes the exhumation of graves at a cemetery. When Ruiz learns that an ancient Native American site has been discovered in the process of the exhumation, he takes it upon himself to publicly go on TV to discuss it, an act with enrages the Mayor, who reads the riot act to Ruiz’s boss, Mata. Ruiz pays a terrible price for his indiscretion.
Episode 2 Trailer/Preview
Episode 101: “Listen”
After the discovery of a serious medical condition, Mayor Tom Kane must set things in motion for the upcoming gubernatorial primary while attempting to reconnect with his distant wife and estranged daughter.
Episode 102: “Reflex”
A new political force enters the race with only a few weeks until the primary. When the City Council stands in Kane’s way, Kane and his crew will have to flex their political muscles to stay on top. Meanwhile, Meredith gets some unsettling news that adds to her growing suspicions that her husband’s keeping something from her.
Episode 103: “Swallow”
As Zajac’s campaign gains momentum, Kane has problems adjusting to his new medical reality. An embarrassing media storm catches Governor Cullen off guard while Miller stumbles upon a story that seeps much deeper than he imagined.
Episode 104: “Slip”
Kane finds himself starting to lose control, both politically and personally, as his supporters begin to question their confidence in him. Zajac ventures into uncharted territory while campaigning as Miller continues to dig for answers.
Episode 105: “Remembered”
After long-buried information resurfaces, Kane and his camp find themselves battling the media for control of public perception. With the primary just around the corner, they’ll have to pull out all the stops to contain the situation and keep the upper hand.
Episode 106: “Spit”
Kane takes an unannounced break from City Hall as his political image hits an all-time low. The election looms and he’ll need to enlist the help of others to weather this storm. Kitty, at an emotional impasse, makes a bold move while Meredith, increasingly suspect of Kane’s behavior, seeks opportunities of her own.
Episode 107: “Stasis”
Just days away from the election, Kane slowly regains control over City Hall. Though a swift political move will help identify his adversaries, will doing the unthinkable improve his public image in time?
Episode 108: “Choose”
Election Day. The race is close, and while the candidates campaign, Kane and Stone must do their part to turn the gears of the political machine. Emma’s world is turned upside-down while Meredith must go to great lengths to prove her allegiance to Kane.
This is a TV show that will defnitely come up for Emmys and other awards. The gritty feel, the rich dialogue and the true-to-life plotlines are incredible. You need to see this show. I saw episode 1 and 2 and loved them both. Wish I could see them all immediately. It’s a show to have on your DVR because it’s some of the finest acting around.
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