By Curt Wagner
6:59 AM CDT, July 2, 2012
When "Boss" returns for its sophomore season Aug. 17, Chicago Mayor Tom Kane, his political allies and enemies will reveal more of themselves. But don’t think it’s going to be a touchy-feely affair.
"Everybody's still kind of diabolical, but we're glimpsing parts of them that show a human side—good, bad or otherwise," new showrunner Dee Johnson says in this exclusive "making of" video from Starz.
The video offers a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of "Boss" in Chicago, which is just about wrapped up now. It features star Kelsey Grammer, who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Tom Kane, as well as new cast members Sanaa Lathan and Jonathan Groff and returning cast members Kathleen Robertson, Rotimi, Jeff Hephner and Hannah Ware.
They all talk about how the new season will delve deeper into the characters after Season 1 set up the fictional Chicago portrayed on the show, an idea that Johnson and I talked about this summer.
"The one thing we really sort of sat down collectively and decided we wanted to do as a writing staff is to basically try to understand who these characters really are and sort of put them through some paces to arrive at that conclusion," she said. "We really wanted to explore these characters further, scratch beneath the surface."
As the new season begins, Kane remains as powerful as ever, but he's feeling the neurological symptoms of his debilitating brain disease. He's going it alone, too, after losing his longtime advisors Ezra Stone (Martin Donovan) and Kitty O'Neil (Robertson).
He doesn't quite trust his new aide, Ian Todd (Groff), who is on loan to him from an alderman's office, and he still doesn't confide completely in his wife Meredith (Connie Nielsen), who learns about his illness from their daughter, Emma (Ware), whom Kane allowed to be arrested to save his political skin.
I've watched the first two episodes of the new season already and the above preview only hints at what's going down in fictional Chicago. Executive producer Johnson, who wrote the season premiere, "Louder Than Words," found writing for the series to be a challenge.
"It's a complicated show," Johnson said. "It sort of has that operatic quality and there are a lot of story threads and so to that end, it's not the easiest show I've had to write for, but it's deeply satisfying at the same time."
Johnson, a veteran of such dramas as "The Good Wife" and "ER," said she's had fun living vicariously through Kane, a man who enjoys absolute power.
"How often do you really get an opportunity to do that in a semi-realistic way? The character of Tom Kane is so king-like and that's what's really fun about being able to write for him," she said. "In this character we're able to really use language in a way that you aren't in a lot of other television shows. He does give speeches, so as a writer you're able to kind of use different muscles in the course of writing dialogue for this character.
"He has such a facility for language and he can be such a powerhouse and he can curse a blue streak and be equally compelling in any one of those aspects of his personality."
"Boss" returns at 8 p.m. Aug. 17 on Starz.
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