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 … Read More »
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 partnership after they unexpectedly meet in court on the worst day of their lives. Patterson, repped by UTA and Parallel Entertainment, will play Verushka, a sexy Russian woman who co-owns the massage shop next door. She is part of the Groundlings and was a guest writer on SNL last season.
Tongayi Chirisa, who co-starred in CBS’ Jim Gaffigan/Peter Tolan comedy pilot last season, has been recruited for the retooled version. Originally only star Gaffiganwas slated to return; he will now be joined by Chirisa. Co-written by Gaffigan and Tolan, the project, inspired by Gaffigan’s real life, stars the comedian as the happily married and harried NYC father of five as he is in real life. Chirisa, repped by Domain and New Wave, plays Father Nicholas Ngungumbane, a Catholic priest from Zimbabwe, recently relocated to New York and thrilled to be living in the United States, who tries to convince Jim to come to church more often.
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 the role of Bonaparte, an ex-mercenary who helps the Expendables in their mission. While Grammer was long identified for playing the mild-mannered shrink-turned-radio host Dr. Frasier Crane, he has transformed into a Hollywood tough guy. Most of that came from him playing a ferocious powerbroker in the recently canceled Starz series Boss. Michael Bay was a fan of that show, which led to Grammer being cast as the villain in Transformers: Age Of Extinction.
Related: Harrison Ford In For ‘Expendables 3,’ Bruce Willis Out
Grammer joins an Expendables 3 cast that includes Sly Stallone, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and Wesley Snipes. Grammer also worked recently with Stallone in the John Herzfeld-directed Reach Me, so he certainly was on Stallone’s radar, and Sly is the catalyst for all that happens with this action film franchise. Grammer also has a new series in the works with Martin Lawrence for Lionsgate, which releases the Expendables films. Grammer is repped by UTA and Category 5′s Brian Sher.
Related: … 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 Transformers film, which also stars Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci. I’m told that Grammer will play Harold Attinger, a counter intelligence guy. Now, Grammer has been in big films before–he played The Beast in X-Men: The Last Stand–but he moved to UTA a couple of months ago, hoping to get more feature opportunities and the agency certainly came through. He’s also managed by Brian Sher. The film begins production in July, from a script by Ehren Kruger. Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Ian Bryce, Tom DeSanto and Don Murphy are the producers.
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 agency that once represented him.
EXCLUSIVE MONDAY 6 PM: Kelsey Grammer has left WME where he had been for the past two and a half years. The Emmy-winning actor has not landed anywhere officially yet after meeting with a couple of agencies, but we hear he plans to sign with UTA. (The agency had no comment). Grammer recently starred in and executive produced Starz’s drama Boss, which earned him a Golden Globe. He also is in discussion with Lionsgate on a 10-90 deal for a buddy comedy starring him and Martin Lawrence, who is at UTA. Before signing with WME in 2010, Grammer was at CAA. He was previously repped by UTA for a long time.
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 Thomas Jane, Tom Berenger and Cary Elwes have also joined the John Herzfeld-directed film. Reach Me follows several characters whose lives cross and smash into each other due to a self-help book and its football coach author. Sylvester Stallone, Elizabeth Henstridge, Danny Aiello, Terry Crews, Omari Hardwick and rapper Nelly also appear in the film, which is currently shooting. Herzfeld, who previously directed 2 Days In The Valley and the Robert De Niro starrer 15 Minutes, wrote the script for Reach Me too. Rebekah Chaney and Cassian Elwes are producing the film. Seraphim Films Productions is financing Reach Me with Paradox Entertainment. Jane is repped by CAA and Media Talent Group. Elwes is repped by APA and Kritzer Levine Wilkins Griffin Entertainment. Connolly is repped by CAA and 3 Arts. Berenger is repped by Evolution Entertainment. Sedgwick is repped by UTA and Impression Entertainment. Grammer is repped by WME.
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 popular by authors/economists Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner. In Pariah, the Mayor of San Diego appoints a rogue academic with no law enforcement background to run a task force using Freakonomics-inspired alternative methods of policing. This causes an uproar within the police department as the morally conflicted, conspiracy-minded academic solves crimes by conducting his controversial experiments on citizens of the city. Grammer and Grammnet’s Stella Stolper and Brian Sher will executive produce, with Levitt and Dubner attached as producers. The project extends Grammnet’s relationship with Lionsgate — the two companies also co-produce the Grammer-starring Starz drama Boss. Grammnet, whose head of development Brian Taylor has spearheaded Pariah, and Levitt & Dubner are repped by WME. Fox is with Gersh.
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 announcement, Fox announced Kelsey Grammer among the latest talent additions to the special. While he has had a recurring role on The Simpsons, on Fox is is best known as the star of the network’s sitcom Back To You, which was controversially cancelled in 2008 after one solidly-rated season. Shortly thereafter, Grammer suffered a heart attack, which he attributed to stress caused by the cancellation. His appearance on the special is the latest sign of mending fences by Fox entertainment president over the demise of Back To You, which also alienated the series’ creators Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd who famously took their followup project, Modern Family, to ABC. Levitan is back at Fox this season with the pilot Rebounding, which he executive produces. In addition to Grammer, also joining previously announced talent on the anniversary special are House star Hugh Laurie and In Living Color‘s Tommy Davidson.
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 season of Boss alongside series’ creator/executive producer, Apocalypto co-writer Farhad Safinia. Safinia didn’t have TV experience before creating the show but I hear he proved a quick study during production of the first season. Search is under away for a new writing executive producer to join Safinia as well as the series’ other exec producers — director Gus Van Sant, star Kelsey Grammer, Brian Sher and Stella Bulochnikov — for Season 2. Boss, from Lionsgate TV, stars Grammer as a ruthless Chicago mayor who has a secret that threatens to topple him. The series has received mostly favorable reviews, especially when it comes to Grammer’s performance.
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, stars Kelsey Grammer as a ruthless Chicago mayor who has a secret that threatens to topple him. Boss was created by feature writer Farhad Safinia (Apocalypto), with Gus Van Sant making his TV debut directing the first episode. Production on Season 2 is slated to begin in early 2012. Starz originally picked up Boss straight-to-series by Starz last year. “The first time we read Farhad’s script, we knew we had to make Boss,” the pay cable network’s president and CEO Chris Albrecht said. “With each episode, the story grew richer, and the cast continues to turn in breakthrough performances.” There has been buzz about former Frasier star Grammer’s performance, which has been compared to those of other sitcom leading men who have transitioned to playing dark characters on cable dramas like Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston and The Shield‘s Michael Chiklis. Co-starring opposite Grammer on Boss are Connie Nielsen, Jeff Hephner, Hannah Ware, Kathleen Robertson and Troy Garity. “It’s nice to get this vote of confidence,” Grammer said. “Good thinking, I love this show.” Grammer executive produces Boss with Safinia, Van Sant, Brian Sher, Stella Bulochnikov, Richard Levine and Lyn Greene. It is kind of ironic that Hephner is getting a … Read More »