I spent a full day on the set with the "Boss" cast and crew when they were filming here this summer, and I walked away with the distinct impression that the series would not fall into some of the same traps that hampered Fox's "The Chicago Code" or so many other cinematic portrayals of the city -- the kind that invariably include a corny line such as "That's how we do it in Chicago" spoken in a mangled Chicago accent.
None of that nonsense here. The show's creators--writer Farhad Safinia and Kelsey Grammer, who stars as a mayor white-knuckling his way through a career-changing crisis--talked about capturing a snapshot of Chicago and its power structure that goes well beyond the clichés and into the kind of hardcore political wrangling about which we normally only learn when a scandal is exposed. Having watched a number of episodes so far, I have to agree with my colleague Steve Johnson's review, which is a good read, by way. Go read it! Grammer has serious drama chops, people. For more background on how the series developed, check out my piece.
Starz has renewed the series for a second season, which is very good news for local crews and actors. I didn't have room to mention all the Chicago actors who turn up in the series, but it's an impressive list: Karen Aldridge, James Vincent Meredith and John Judd (all three of whom you can currently see in "Clybourne Park" at the Steppenwolf), as well as David Pasquesi, , Ricardo Guitierrez, Kevin Gudahl, Craig Spidle, Christian Stolte and Carmen Roman. If you are a regular theatergoer, you will recognize many of these faces.
Some other interesting tidbits. If you were of an age and inclination to watch "Beverly Hills, 90210" in the 90s, you might recognize Kathleen Robertson, who plays a mayoral aide in "Boss." Robertson is very good looking, and it's the one aspect of the show that seems like Hollywood casting. Turns out I was wrong. "I had the chance to interview and talk one-on-one with people who were formerly in the Daley administration," Robertson told me, "and they're cute girls. Rahm, Daley, they hire--from what I've been told--it's not uncommon to see very good looking women (working in their inner circle)."
And then there's this: Another "Boss" cast member, Jeff Hephner, was originally cast to play the lead in another Chicago-shot TV series, "The Playboy Club," before producers decided he wasn't right for the role and replaced him with Eddie Cibrian. ("Playboy" was canceled earlier this month.)
-- Nina Metz