Fall TV Preview

Kelsey Grammer Reveals Why He Ditched Comedy to Become Starz's New Boss

Dr. Frasier Crane he is not.

Kelsey Grammer joined his costars and fellow executive producers at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills on Friday to promote his new TV series, Boss. The Starz drama (premiering Oct. 21) features Grammer in a decidedly different role, playing a ruthless Chicago mayor who is diagnosed with a debilitating disease.

Drama King | Explaining his venture into such new territory, Grammer explained that after decades of playing comedy roles, he decided he was ready for a move to drama. “I took a break [from TV] for a while, and there were a lot of reasons I did,” he said. “I decided I needed to make a life change. You are all familiar what’s been going in my personal life.” After suffering a heart attack three years ago, Grammer took stoke of his life and came to the conclusion that “I didn’t want that story be my last story.” And the five-time Emmy winner is very happy with his decision to get back in the game. “He’s an exciting character to play,” said Grammer of his Boss politico. “It’s been probably the greatest time of my life, creatively … I have said some of the most extraordinary language I’ve said in my life doing this role.”

The Cold Hard Truth | Another push that steered Grammer into drama? The failure of his 2009 ABC sitcom, Hank. “Nobody really liked that,” he offered candidly. “It wasn’t really funny.” Grammer even went so far as to call up Warner Bros. TV boss Peter Roth and ask, “‘How do we put a bullet in this thing?'” he related. ” And we did. About three days later, it was dead on arrival.”

Political? Incorrect! | Although Boss revolves around politics, executive producer Farhad Safinia maintained “this is not a show about policy or party ideology. It’s about how people treat each other” — including all the backstabbing and backroom secrets. Grammer emphasized that this show isn’t The West Wing either. “Nor do I believe the viewing public would be able to accept this as possible until the last few years,” he continued. “I think this [show] is quite apt now.”

Big Screen Supporter | Filmmaker Gus Van Sant (Milk), who directed the Boss pilot and will serve as an executive producer, cited “Kelsey’s amazing power as an actor and Farhad’s writing” as the reasons why he took on the TV gig. “The overall sub-theme of people … and their conflicting agendas started to remind me of my daily life and the agendas I’m thrust into, and how our lives are these busy days of setting agendas,” he added.

Watch a promo below, then tell us: Will Kelsey Grammer’s Boss get your TV remote’s vote when it premieres Oct. 21?