"...betrayal starts from within..."
SouthSide would like to make it very clear - she's withdrawing her candidacy for Mayor of Chicago.
After watching an advanced screening of the premiere episode of the new Starz drama - Boss, she came to realize having that kind of power makes the job of being a Chicago mayor very strenuous because you have have to watch you back at all times. The ever famous "...keep your friends close and your enemies closer..." applies yet also add those closest to your inner circle - family and top mayoral staff to the mix. This should give you some idea of what this wonderfully written drama called Boss, starring Kelsey Grammer and Connie Nielsen, is about.
It's about the life - political and private of fictional Chicago Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) who has this powerful God-like appearance and control whether it be over his staff, city council members, businessmen, etc. Yet that domineering control and power has flaws - a disconnection with his own wife, Meredith (Connie Nielsen) and his estranged daughter, Emma (Hannah Ware). However, there's one thing both his wife and daughter don't know (yet), Mayor Kane is dying from a degenerative disease that will slowly but certainly detiorate the senses, bodily functions, motor skills - basic brain functions as well as it will cause hallucinations as so diagnosed by his private doctor in the opening scenes of Boss. Taking medication might prolong his life (and probably his political career) but eventually he'll require 24 elder care when that stage of the disease worsens. However, life must go on ...he had a city to run and control even though anguishing over the tough news delivered about his health.
Also in this episode we meet the other major players connected to Mayor Tom Kane's tangled web which include Meredith (Connie Nielsen), his wife ...tough and power-hungry like her husband but they're both estranged to each other in private (i.e. sleeping in separate in bedrooms); Emma (Hannah Ware), an Espicopal minister who runs a health clinic on the Westside but also has a secret of her own; Kitty O'Neil (Kathleen Robertson), Mayor Tom Kane's personal aide and advisor who's all businees during the day but becomes something else when she's "off the clock"; Ezra Stone (Martin Donovan), Mayor Tom Kane's "eyes and ears" of what's happening within City Hall and his private life as the political advisor; IL Governor McCall Cullen (Franis Guinan) who's running for re-election but knows Mayor Kane well enough to realize the man is the Devil is disguise and wants him out of office; Ben Zajac (Jeff Hephner) Mayor Kane's choice to run against Governor Cullen during the primary election and Kitty's hot stairwell tryst; Sam Miller (Troy Garity) a reporter for the fictional Chicago Sentinel newspaper who could expose Mayor Tom Kane's flaws especially his health with a stroke of a pen and Darius Morrison (Rotomi Akinosho) a gangbanger/drug dealer who knows Emma's little secret. Chicago White Sox fans should be on the lookout for a familiar face in this primiere episode ...and no, it's not former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
Be forewarned, Kelsey Grammer's Mayor Tom Kane character isn't suppose to be loveable like his comedic side as Frasier Crane on the hit series Frasier. This chararcter is meant to be feared as well as revered ...he can be downright prime evil (if needed) towards his friends, staff, and enemies yet a God rewarding those who play by his rules. And it's a given that you better play by his rules or suffer dire consequences. Kelsey Grammer deliciously embodies the essence of two former Chicago Mayors (Richard J and Richard M Daley) and current Mayor Rahm Emanuel into his Mayor Tom Kane character. For example, there's a scene during the premiere episode in which Mayor Tom Kane viciously berates an elder Hispanic community leader for after what his nephew Mucco did - acting too prematurely to the press/media over the discovery of an acient Native American burial ground at construction site (O'Hare expansion project - a Richard M Daley reference). Grammer delivers this one particular scene with such venomous fervor that this reviewer literally felt every ounce of his anger that forced the man to humbly cower before his feet (in front of the Hispanic man's son) while gripping him by the ear. If that scene alone doesn't garner Kelsey Grammer a Golden Globe nomination, then SouthSide will personally create one just for him. There are other powerful scenes in which he welds his domineering control over people from convincing character Ben Zajac to run as a gubernatorial candidate against Governor McCall Cullen after telling Cullen he had Cook County in the bag to sending a tiny "reminder" to his private doctor about her oath after it's known Chicago Sentinel reporter Sam Miller paid her a visit trying to dig up something about Mayor Kane's health. SouthSide had an awesome "happy" moment when Grammer's character ordered all 50 ward alderpersons to hand over their electronic devices (i.e. iPhones, iPads, mobile phones, blackberries, etc) telling them there will be NO Facebooking, Twittering, text in or out until they all agree on the proposed city ordinance. Now that's a Chicago mayor and power in action ...hypothetically of course.
SouthSide hadn't forgotten the true star of this drama series - the City of Chicago, itself. The Boss doesn't utilize one central city location ...the production team encompasses ALL areas of Chicago from an empty hog butching warehouse (on the Southside) to a recognizable Episopal Church on the Westside and other familiar places such as Millennium Park and The Palmer House. This reviewer gives kudos to the director and producers for not making up Chicago places or changing anything from the face of SouthSide's beloved hometown - that's the real dipictions of the mayor's 5th floor office (with pictures of former Mayor Daleys on the wall), the real city council room, rooftop garden on City Hall ...and even Noble Square School - where SouthSide attended when she was a kid. Also more kudos for doing an extensive research on Chicago and its mayoral history which is at one point incorporated into the premiere episode when Mayor Kane convinces (in a subtle way) Ben Zajac to run in the primary. SouthSide found it quite interesting how the hispanic community leader precisely explains how ethnic groups can come together and work for the same common goal - political recognition under Mayor Kane's administration - as one except the Blacks. As he puts it "...it's like ice dancing..." Can't get much clearer than that about the Black community and politics in Chicago.
Even though the first episode of Boss has a slow start - just to get you familiarized with the main players of this series, SouthSide has a good feeling the storyline will definitely heat up and keep you returning every Friday for episodes 2 thru 8 with a cliffhanger (she's told) will usher in the second seaons of Boss. Lots of plots and subplots as you're taken deeper into the tangled web that Mayor Tom Kane weaves around those close (and not so close) to him.
Tune into your Starz cable channel starting Oct 21 at 9p (CST)/ 10p (EST) for Kelsey Grammer as Boss.
Until next time, support your local scene,