Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
A first unfolded this morning during the TCA session promoting the Starz political drama Boss, which has its second season premiere on Aug. 17. Star Kelsey Grammer took a phone call on his cell phone during the panel. And it wasn’t a case of his cellphone ringing and him shutting it off in embarrassment. No, he took the call and spent some 90 seconds speaking with, as it turned out, his wife. “Wait, let me get this, one second”, Grammer began. “Hello? Oh hi honey…I’m onstage right now but go ahead…Oh, that sounds great…Huh? Oh sure, OK…” On in went, with Grammer making plans and reciting for his wife a phone number. The reporters and critics had a good laugh. But one closed the panel by asking, in all seriousness, why Grammer took the call. “Well, some things are more important than others”, he pointed out. “The well being of my wife sits atop the charts.” That drew some scattered applause.
But Grammer didn’t restrict his comments to the telephone and his family. He also took a little time to speak about his series that didn’t burn up the ratings charts in its first season, prompting one critic to ask what kind of numbers threshold that Starz may be looking for in Season 2 of Boss to guarantee a third season. “I’m confident that whatever Starz’s interest is in the show is because it’s a great story to tell, honestly”, Grammer stressed. “I’m not aware of what the actual numbers are. I just know they’d like them to be higher”. That was creator and showrunner Farhad Safinia’s cue to jump in. “I am completely aware of what the numbers are, and I’m heartbroken”, he admitted. “It’s one of those things where you’d like more people to see what you’re doing…I do hope the audience comes to see it so we can tell the entire story. I think we just have to work on that assumption that we will get to do it”. Grammer also was asked what he’s learned about the Chicago political machine while shooting in the city. “I’ve learned as little as possible”, he admitted. “You know, politics is disgusting. You know, I have been welcomed by the political machine in Chicago at least in terms of the surface. They’re delighted we’re working there. They’re thrilled. But look, they love their city, they love that we’re telling the story”. He added, “The cops in Chicago have told me that I have a withering look just like Mayor Daley”.
Grammer and Safinia also were asked their reaction to the fact that Boss received no Emmy nominations for top drama series or for Grammer’s blistering performance as Chicago Mayor Tom Kane, which has earned him significant critical praise. Safinia called Grammer’s lack of a nom “a travesty. The performance that he’s giving in undeniably great. The only explanation I can come up with is that (voters) didn’t see it”. Grammer claimed not to have been surprised after having also been passed over for a Screen Actors Guild honor this year. “For some reason”, he concluded, “my peers don’t think this is worth recognizing”.