EXCLUSIVE: Slavery continues to be in the cultural zeitgeist. FX has joined the trend with The Code, a limited series exploring American slavery from Kelsey Grammer‘s Grammnet NH Prods. It is based on the book Song Yet Sung by The Color Of Water author James McBride, which draws from the life of famous abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Born a slave, she escaped and, with the help of the hard-bitten white watermen of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, fostered an intricate escape network of secret routes and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad that she used to smuggle more than 300 slaves to the North. The Code centers on Liz, a black woman making a desperate dash to freedom, on the run from a torn white waterman and able slave catcher, who takes on one last job — only to find himself in a war against a notorious female slave stealer. As Liz makes her way through the dark and forbidding swamplands of Maryland’s Eastern Shore using the black codes of the underground, the complexities of slavery play out in full force, pitting slave against slave, white against white, and plantation owner against plantation owner. McBride will adapt his book and co-executive produce with Brian Taylor, with Grammer, Brian Sher and Stella Bulochnikov executive producing.
FX has been interested in tackling the subject of slavery in a limited series and actively pursued a Roots remake, a project that ultimately went to History. The topic of slavery is very much on people’s minds through a string of popular movies including last year’s Django Unchained, this year’s Oscar hopeful 12 Years A Slave, and with Lee Daniels’ The Butler also touching on the subject. ABC is developing a limited series about James Madison’s slave servant. Taylor, Grammnet’s former head of development, acquired rights to the project and brought McBride to FX through his friendship with the author. McBride is repped by CAA, while Grammnet is repped by UTA.
Edi Patterson has been cast as a regular in Braddock & Jackson (working title), FX/Lionsgate’s 10-episode comedy series starring Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence as Chicago lawyers from vastly different backgrounds who develop a … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Remember when Nicolas Cage was supposed to join the ensemble of action stars of Millennium Films’ The Expendables 3? Well, guess what, that role is going to Kelsey Grammer. Grammer is near a deal to play … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Forget the affable Frasier Crane; Kelsey Grammer is embracing his inner bad guy. After his Golden Globe turn as the ruthless politician in Boss, Grammer has just landed the key villain role in Michael Bay‘s next … Read More »
2ND UPDATE, WEDNESDAY 1 PM: UTA has confirmed that it has signed Kelsey Grammer and will rep the actor for film and television as well as his Grammnet production company.
UPDATE, TUESDAY 7 PM: I’ve learned that Kelsey Grammer has indeed signed with UTA, returning to the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It would be the biggest star pairing on a TV series in a long long time. Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence are considering pairing up to star in and produce a multi-camera comedy together for Lionsgate TV and its subsidiary Debmar-Mercury. We hear it started with a November meeting right before Thanksgiving between Grammer, Lawrence and Lionsgate where the two actors showed great chemistry. The pair are repped by different agencies: Grammer by WME, and Lawrence by UTA. But Grammer’s financial settlement with recently divorced wife Camille wasn’t yet finalized and he ordered everybody not to discuss the project until it was. (We hear the concern was that Camille might try to lay claim to the project. She reportedly owned half of Grammnet Productions with its television shows including Girlfriends, Medium, and The Game and worked as a creator, writer, and executive producer within the production company.) That financial settlement finalized right before Christmas and now the project is on a fast track. In the past few weeks, the studio has quietly sent out feelers to writers. In coming weeks, the studio will start meeting with potential creators/showrunners to pin down a concept for the buddy series which sources say may have an “odd couple” feel. Read More »
There won’t be a third season of Starz‘s acclaimed drama Boss starring Kelsey Grammer and created by Farhad Safinia. However, I’ve learned exclusively that there are discussions between the pay cable network and Boss producer Lionsgate TV about possibly doing a two-hour movie that would wrap up the story of Chicago Mayor Tom Kane, played by Grammer. “After much deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to not proceed with (a third season of) Boss,” said Starz in a statement Tuesday. “We remain proud of this award-winning show, its exceptional cast and writers, and are grateful to Kelsey Grammer, Farhad Safinia and our partners at Lionsgate TV.”
Ratings-wise, Boss was soft but relatively steady. The series premiered to 659,000 viewers in October 2011. Season 2, which was ordered before Boss‘ series debut, opened with 317,000 viewers this past August, down 52% from Season 1, but subsequently recovered. It averaged 937,000 viewers over its weekend premiere airings on the Starz flagship channel and around 2.4 million across all platforms per episode. That was down slightly from Season 1 (1.1 million, 3 million). But Boss brought cachet to Starz, earning critical praise. It earned the first major awards nominations for the pay cable network, winning a Golden Globe for star Grammer who probably delivered the strongest performance of his career in Boss. Additionally, the show developed strong following by a small but devoted fan base. Its ratings performance was probably hampered by the fact it didn’t have a strong lead-in as Starz doesn’t have enough original series to go around, and that it aired on low-trafficked Friday night. (Though the network puts emphasis on a series’ cumed weekend viewership). Going into Season 2, the show beefed up the cast with new additions Sanaa Lathan, Jonathan Groff and T.I. while keeping its status as one of the less expensive Starz series. However, unlike Magic City, whose first season did only marginally better than Season 1 of Boss, the Grammer-starring drama was not owned by Starz, with Lionsgate TV controlling international and DVD rights. Read More »
MTV has put in development Blackwood, a drama from Lionsgate Television and Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Prods. It is based on the young adult book of the same name by Gwenda Bond, which was published this past September on the Strange Chemistry YA imprint of UK-based science fiction publisher Angry Robot Books. DC Comic book and television writer Peter Calloway (Brothers & Sisters) will write the adaptation. Blackwood centers on 19-year-old Miranda Blackwood who, when 114 people, including her father, suddenly vanish off Roanoke Island, begins to investigate the mass disappearance, teaming with her high school sweetheart. But she makes a chilling discovery when she uncovers that she’s at the center of not only this mystery, but one that traces back to the first American mystery: the disappearance of 114 people at what would be called The Lost Colony. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Boss star Kelsey Grammer and former Closer star Kyra Sedgwick have been added to the ensemble cast of Reach Me. Entourage’s Kevin Connolly, former Hung star … Read More »
NBC has bought Pariah, a drama project from Lionsgate Television and Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Prods. Written by Kevin Fox (The Negotiator, Law & Order: SVU), the police procedural features characters inspired by the economic theory ‘Freakonomics’ made … Read More »
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. Read More »
Kelsey Grammer is no stranger to the Emmy Awards. He’s won four for his career-defining role of Frasier Crane in the long-running sitcom Frasier. He won another for his moonlighting job of voicing Sideshow Bob on an even longer-running sitcom, The Simpsons. But the actor/producer/director – he’s received Emmy and/or DGA Awards nominations in all three fields – got his start in acting by performing Shakespeare. And he shows he’s much more than simply a comedy star by playing powerful, doomed Chicago mayor Tom Kane in Boss, the very serious drama series on Starz that earned him a surprise Golden Globe earlier this year. As Grammer reveals here, Shakespeare was indeed part of the source material for Boss.
AWARDSLINE: Tom Kane is an extraordinary character, really different from anything that I’ve seen on TV in recent years. He’s really quite Shakespearean.
KELSEY GRAMMER: Well he was a Shakespeare-based kind of character. We wanted to build him a world, at least a minor fiefdom. A kingdom of sorts. A feudal, violent and seething kingdom. That was the kind of guy we wanted to explore. Read More »
American Idol host Ryan Seacrest was already scheduled to appear on Fox’s upcoming 25th Anniversary special. Now the network announced he will host the two-hour special, slated to air Next Sunday, April 22. In a more surprising part of the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Boss executive producers/co-showrunners Richard Levine and Lyn Greene are exiting Starz’ new drama series, which was renewed for a second season last month ahead of its premiere last night. The former Nip/Tuck executive producers shepherded the 8-episode first … Read More »
In a strategy to build interest in the new Kelsey Grammer series Boss, Starz beginning today is making the premiere episode available for sampling to 76 million households across multiple platforms in the runup to the October 21 debut. Grammer plays Tom Kane, hardened Machiavellian mayor of Chicago who finds himself struggling with a potentially debilitating medical problem he desperately wants to keep secret. Connie Nielsen plays his wife and Martin Donovan plays his political advisor. Viewers can watch the full debut episode directed by Gus Van Sant on www.starz.com/boss and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/boss.starz and on-demand or online via multiple cable or telco and satellite outlets. Read More »
Starz has ordered a second 10-episode season of upcoming drama Boss ahead of the series’ October 21 premiere. A couple of years ago, the network did the same with its flagship series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Boss, from Lionsgate TV, … Read More »