Dr. Frasier Crane, he's not. And that's exactly how Kelsey Grammer wants it now.
A four-time Emmy winner for playing his most popular part to date (with an additional Emmy for his recurring Sideshow Bob voice role on “The Simpsons”), the actor launches a huge and highly effective image change as the powerful and troubled mayor of Chicago when the Starz drama series “Boss” debuts Friday.
Tom Kane rules the Windy City in his own imperious way, and if he has faced challenges before, he gets his greatest one in the show's opening scene. His neurologist (Karen Aldridge) informs him of his progressive brain disorder, prompting his worry that he'll soon lose everything personally as well as professionally.
Not that his personal life isn't already frayed: He's estranged from his wife and daughter (Connie Nielsen, Hannah Ware). At the office, Kane relies on his chief of staff (Martin Donovan). His aide (“Beverly Hills, 90210” alum Kathleen Robertson) and the ambitious state treasurer (Jeff Hephner) are among others he deals with often.
Along with filmmaker Gus Van Sant (“Good Will Hunting”), who directed the premiere, Grammer is an executive producer of “Boss.” So is series creator Farhad Safinia, with whom Grammer says he began working “sometime after my marriage at the time (to ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' co-star Camille Grammer) was falling apart. This character's life was falling apart, and it was meant to be derivative of some Shakespearean stuff.
“Basically, he's Lear,” Grammer says. “That being said, we don't want to pigeonhole it so that people say, ‘Oh, they're trying to make a “King Lear” story.' It's a tragedy about a man who is not necessarily a tragic figure at first but will become that as he learns to love. That's my idea of where this character is going.”